Elimination diet results in significant improvement of ADHD symptoms

Friday, February 18, 2011 by: T.M. Hartle
Tags: elimination diet, ADHD, health news

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(NaturalNews) Alternative practitioners have been advocating a dietary approach for ADHD children with the understanding that chemical food additives, intestinal permeability and processed foods have a dramatic impact on brain function. The medical community has been slow to recognize this connection despite the fact that numerous studies have been conducted on the dietary correlations with ADHD symptoms. A study published in The Lancet earlier this month revealed that a restrictive elimination diet can result in dramatic improvement in ADHD symptoms.

The study followed 100 children with ADHD; the children were assigned to either the restricted elimination diet or a typical American diet, although parents were advised to feed their children healthy food. The children in the elimination group consumed rice, vegetables, white meat, fruit and water. This diet was designed to eliminate the most common allergenic foods identified to have an impact on ADHD children including eggs, soy, wheat, dairy, and corn.

In the first phase of the diet 78% of the children in the elimination group experienced significant improvement in their ADHD symptoms. The researchers took these results even further by reintroducing the allergenic foods back into the children's diet, resulting in 63% of the children having a dramatic relapse in ADHD symptoms. The relapse in symptoms occurred regardless of whether the children had antibody levels against these allergenic foods. The researchers concluded that the restricted diet could be useful in the treatment of ADHD regardless of IgG blood test results.

Alternative practitioners have long understood the physiology behind intestinal permeability and ADHD symptoms which coincide with the results seen in this recent study. According to the Neuroscience website, intestinal permeability occurs when the mucosal layer of the intestinal wall is damaged and unable to prevent bacteria, antigens and undigested food particles from entering the blood stream. Symptoms of intestinal permeability include difficulty concentrating, allergies, mood variations and memory problems. The correlation between allergenic food elimination and improvement in ADHD symptoms is synonymous with the understanding of intestinal permeability or 'leaky gut syndrome' and its effect on brain function.

Intestinal permeability can be caused by a diet low in fiber and high in processed foods, antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs, chlorinated water and exposure to other unnatural foods and environmental toxins. Science is beginning to expose the reality that our health and the health of our children are intimately connected with our environment and lifestyle choices. Unfortunately the medical community has been slow to put down the prescription pad in favor of dietary modification and a healthy lifestyle in the treatment of ADHD.


The Lancet Volume 377, Issue 9764 , Pages 494-503, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62227-1
"Effects of a restricted elimination diet on the behaviour of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (INCA study): a randomised controlled trial"
Authors: L. Pelsser, K. Frankena, J. Toorman, H.F. Savelkoul, A.E. Dubois, R.R. Pereira, et al

About the author

T.M. Hartle has a Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition as well as a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. She is a student midwife who teaches pregnancy nutrition courses to midwives and childbirth educators throughout the country. She has a certificate in the Essentials of raw culinary arts from Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and is the Owner and Chef of The Peaceful Kitchen.

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