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Dietary Changes That Can Have Positive Effects on ADHD Symptoms

Dietary Changes That Can Have Positive Effects on ADHD Symptoms


When parents suspect their child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a diagnosis has already been made, they may want to learn about strategies to reduce symptoms without medication. Making changes to the child's diet, for example, could have significant positive effects.


Some youngsters respond very well to natural methods and never need to take stimulant medicine, the conventional medical treatment for ADHD. Others can take a lower dose than is typical. Effective natural methods can help a child concentrate, focus, and manage a tendency toward impulsive behavior.


Expert Insight


Many practitioners in various healthcare fields have found that ADHD symptoms decrease dramatically with a change in diet. Nutritionists, dietitians, alternative health practitioners, and doctors specializing in integrative medicine are examples. 


Processed Food


The standard American diet is characterized by a great deal of processed food. The routine inclusion of these products in a child's diet is generally much higher compared with eating habits of decades ago. Not all processed food is unhealthy, but much of it contains substances that can worsen ADHD symptoms. 


When choosing processed food, parents should be careful to select products with no artificial dyes. Although research has not shown that synthetic food coloring additives cause ADHD, symptoms can be aggravated by these substances. That's according to a 2015 report by Scientific American


The European Union requires food products to carry a label indicating whether certain artificial colors are included. If so, a warning about negative effects on attention and activity is required. Some European countries have banned those synthetic substances in food products.


Sugar and Yeast


Too much sugar can be associated with worsened ADHD. Some practitioners believe excessive yeast in the body can cause problems with attention and hyperactivity, and sugar provides energy for the growth of a yeast known as Candida albicans. This is different from the substance used in bread baking. Instead, it's a naturally occurring fungus in the body.


Normally, Candida only causes problems when there is overgrowth of the yeast. This can happen with antibiotic usage, as those drugs kill friendly bacteria in the digestive system. With the absence of friendly bacteria that keep Candida in check, this yeast proliferates.


Parents may want to cut back on sugary foods in their youngster's diet. In addition, switching to high-fiber bread and eliminating foods like white bread and pastries could help.


Children will likely rebel at full eradication of sweets and baked goods, but parents can learn about healthier choices. In many recipes, a large amount of sugar could easily be removed without having a negative effect on flavor. People eventually discover that the muffins and quick breads they were previously accustomed to now taste unpleasantly sweet. 




When the child does plan to eat high-carbohydrate types of food, adding a form of protein is important. This prevents surges in blood sugar that cause bursts of energy followed by steep drops in energy. Maintaining a more stable blood glucose level is desirable for preventing ADHD symptoms.


Unsweetened yogurt is an ideal choice because it not only provides healthy protein and calcium, but it also supports friendly bacteria that keep yeast levels in check. If parents suspect problems with Candida, they may want to provide probiotic supplements for their youngster.


Other protein and carbohydrate combinations also keep blood glucose levels from spiking. Parents can provide their children with favorite combinations from these groups. Many youngsters like eating cereal and milk, for example, but it's important to look for cereal products without large amounts of added sugar. Cheese and crackers are another possibility.


Keep a Food Journal


Parents might track what a child eats with a journal. They probably can't record every item consumed because of time spent at school and other places. Children may not be compliant with always writing down what they eat. Nevertheless, this diary can give the family indications of whether certain foods and beverages are connected with unwanted behavior.


Concluding Thoughts


Several dietary strategies can have positive effects on ADHD symptoms. Eliminating synthetic food colorings may help, as can limiting sugar intake. Combining protein with high-carbohydrate foods prevents blood glucose from spiking and plummeting. Parents also might track what a child eats in a diary to see whether certain items seem to cause negative behavior. With a variety of modifications, children may experience a remarkable reduction in ADHD symptoms.

S.J. Merens

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