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Another View: Diet & ADHD

May 21st, 2014 05:00:00 am

Another View: Diet & ADHD

Once again, the New York Times weighs in on ADHD; this time regarding diet. Usually, I find their articles helpful, but everyone misses the boat now and again. It's not that they didn't have good information; they fell into the trap of regurgitating information that was a little, well, obvious: food makes a difference in behavior.


WebMD came out with this months ago, and I wrote a blog in response titled "I'm So Excited.” As in, “I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it,” that Pointer Sisters' song that everyone knows by heart. It was a little tongue-in-cheek. Millions of dollars and years of education have been spent before someone came out to officially say, “hey, we're thinking that maybe what you feed a child makes a difference in how they act, learn, and behave.”


What a novel idea, right? Any parent who pays close attention could tell you that their son or daughter is definitely influenced by the food they eat. Not only parents, anyone who has borne witness to the aftereffects of birthday cake could testify to the shift in behavior, which is different for every child. 


Dietary Approaches

A number of diets have been suggested for people with ADHD. Several well-conducted studies have failed to support dietary effects of sugar and food additives on behavior, except possibly in a very small percentage of children. Still, various studies have reported behavioral improvement with diets that restrict possible allergens in the diet. Parents may want to discuss with their doctor implementing an elimination diet of certain foods that would not be harmful and that might help.

Additives and foods that parents and studies report as possible triggers of behavioral changes include:

  • Any artificial colorings (particularly yellow, red, or green)

  • Other chemical additives -- for example, BHT or BHA

  • Milk

  • Chocolate

  • Eggs

  • Wheat

  • Foods containing salicylates, including all berries, chili powder, apples and cider, cloves, grapes, oranges, peaches, peppers (bell & chili), plums, prunes, tomatoes


I wrote about the impacts of artificial colorings, chemical additives, dairy, sugar and wheat back in 2000, and I was pooh-poohed by so-called respected sources. People thought that a correlation between food and behavior (specifically ADD/HD related issues) was ridiculous. But more and more studies are now saying exactly that.


However, I challenge the last point on the list above: “Foods containing salicylates, including all berries, chili powder, apples and cider, cloves, grapes, oranges, peaches, peppers (bell & chili), plums, prunes, tomatoes”.


There is a lack of transparency in where the research is being done, who is doing the research, and (most importantly) who is funding the research. I can get behind triggers like artificial colorings and chemical additives, but I have a hard time believing that all natural produce like berries, oranges, peppers, and tomatoes could cause behavioral changes. I'm not a scientist (thank goodness), but I wonder if it's could be the pesticides on these foods that are triggers, instead of the foods themselves. The fact that the source of these studies isn't listed in the article has me suspicious. Usually, companies fund studies to make themselves look good, or make the competition look bad. Who's behind this?


Between food processing, agriculture, and pharmaceutical companies, over $300 million has been poured into Washington via the legalized bribery system we call “lobbying.” That's a lot of money to control funding, block legislation, and secure the companies' interests—all at the cost of our children's health. How? Money is made through repeat buyers—that is, addicted children. Diets are contributing to health issues, but instead of changing habits and patterns, companies convince us that it's easier and more convenient to medicate. Although it is in the best interest of the consumer to know what's in our foods and what it can do to our health, it clearly is not in the best interest of the corporations aiming to make money. But what about healthcare? $40 million from hospitals and health care providers was poured into Washington, because they make more money off of us when we're sick. ADD/HD has become a medicated epidemic in this country (10,000 toddlers are medicated), corporations like Monsanto block every attempt for consumers to know what's in their food, the amount spent on ADD/HD drugs soared from two billion dollars to nine billion dollars in twelve years, and the paper trail leads right back to Washington.


It's no wonder I was pooh-poohed when I began talking about the health, behavior, and diet connection fourteen years ago.


Image source: wikipedia


1. http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/other-treatments.html

2. http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-treatment-care

3. http://www.mydrkevin.com/i-m-so-excited/blog-157/#.U3qBOFhdVgY

4. http://www.today.com/health/thats-nuts-10-000-toddlers-get-drugs-adhd-2D79684452

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