In a study of 100 children with ADHD, scientists from Radboud University in the Netherlands found that a restricted diet led to significant improvements in the symptoms of some ADHD sufferers.
Previous studies have suggested that in some children, ADHD might be an allergic or hypersensitivity disorder that could be triggered by any type of food that can cause allergic reactions.
ADHD is estimated to affect around 3 to 5 percent of children worldwide. Children with ADHD are excessively restless, impulsive and distracted, and often have difficulties at home and in school. There is no cure, but the symptoms can be kept in check by a combination of drugs and behavioral therapy.
To investigate, researchers divided children aged four to eight years diagnosed with ADHD into two groups and given either an elimination diet or a general healthy diet for five weeks.
The elimination diet was restricted to rice, water, white meat such as turkey, and some fruits and vegetables that are generally considered as unlikely to cause allergies.
Foods such as wheat, tomatoes, oranges, eggs and dairy products were kept out of the diet as they are often linked with allergies or food intolerances.
After five weeks, children who reacted well to the restricted diet went into a second phase in which different groups of foods were gradually added to their diet and their symptoms monitored to see if they worsened. The foods were different for each child, based on blood results.
Researchers found that in the first phase, 64 percent of children in the diet group had significant improvements in their ADHD symptoms, and showed a decrease in challenging behavior.
The study was published in The Lancet medical journal.
For more information on ADHD, visit ADHD Canada and The Centre for ADHD/ADD Advocacy, Canada.
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