Diet has not been showed to cause attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and it cannot account alone for the symptoms of ADHD. However, diets can play a crucial role in physical and mental health. In particular, symptoms of ADHD children can be improved by the nutrition from diets.
ADHD and nutrition
ADHD is the common psychiatric disorder in children that often results in the alarming impairment of the child’s social and family. In general, the children will show the symptoms as hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention. In particular, some students can suffer the comorbid oppositional defiant disorder. The parents and teachers of those ADHD children will meet more difficulty in controlling them especially when the academic performance tends to decrease. At that time, the doctors and family turn to nutrition. The intake of daily food can have huge impacts on the severity and frequency of the ADHD symptoms.
The relationship between the daily foods and child psychiatric disorders has been proved in many researches. There are two main flows of researches investigating the impacts of the foods on ADHD children. One is additive research studies; the other is the restricted elimination diet (RED) studies. The additive research includes eliminating or supplementing few food components as colorings or preservatives. This research shows that the additives do not cause the ADHD symptoms on children although they create a smaller effect on the behavior of ADHD children. Consequently, avoiding additives cannot have clear impacts on ADHD treatments.
RED research involves changing the patient’s diet totally and rube out a wide range of foods. The study found that a five-week RED may be a positive beneficial on the behavior of the ADHD children.
2. Nutrition effects
Balance blood sugar
The evidences which support the good effects of nutrition on ADHD symptoms are abundant but the research in this field is limited. Evidence supports that the elimination or reduce of artificial food colors in foods can make it more nutritional and cut down ADHD related behaviors. Limit the intake of sugar and increase iron intake are also proved in several modification.
One study carried in hyperactivity children have consistently reveal that those ADHD children tend to eat more sugar than their peers and the decrease in the amount of sugar halves disciplinary actions in young offenders. Some ADHD professionals claim that the issues do not lie in sugar itself but from where it comes, the absence of the well-balanced diet overall and abnormal glucose metabolism. One research of 265 hyperactivity children announced that more than ¾ of them show abnormal glucose tolerance, which means that their bodies is not likely to control the sugar intake and keep the balanced blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates, sweets, chocolate, fizzy drink and juices can cause the trigger wild fluctuations in the level of activity, concentration and behaviors, which are the symptoms of ADHD.
There are some notices that the parents should remember when prepare meals for their children. First of all, the different children will react differently to foods. With one kind of food, some children can have allergic reactions which can trigger the symptoms of ADHD. The parents of ADHD children should talk to the doctor before make any changes to the diet.
Increase vitamins and minerals
Many ADHD children are diagnosed with certain key nutrients. Zinc and magnesium are the most common deficient nutrients in ADHD children. Especially, the symptoms of the lack of the minerals are close to the symptoms of ADHD. For example, the low amount of magnesium can cause excessive fidgeting, anxiety, restlessness and learning difficulties, which can be seen as the ADHD symptoms.
Avoid allergy food
The link between hyperactivity and food sensitivity is the most established and worthy of pursuit in ADHD children. The food allergy can be devided into two main groups. The first one is the classical, severe and immediate allergy which relate to the peanuts and shellfish. The ADHD children can suffer the allergy involving antibody called IgE. This type of allergy appears early in life since the reaction is so immediate and severe. The second group includes the IgG antibody. This allergy has a different way of affecting. The symptoms of these allergies are diversity and take hours to diagnose. The hyperactivity children have tendency to have food allergies more than other children. The research carried by Dr. Joseph Ballantine from Georgetown University in Washington DC claimed that over a half of hyperactivity children from 7 to 10 are positive for food allergies. They can be sensitive with additives and preservatives. They can reduce the ADHD symptoms by eliminating the foods which contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
The ADHD children can change their behavior when using the wheat, corn, yeast, soya, peanuts and eggs.
3. 15 best foods for ADHD children
Apples: the experts of ADHD found that apples own a great source of complex carbohydrates, which are recommended to use for the ADHD children. The right foods can make the children have a sound sleep and apple an keep ADHD symptoms at bay.
Goat’s cheese: the protein amount in goat’s cheese is significantly higher than other foods. Nevertheless, many ADHD children have problems with cow’s milk; they can get allergy or intolerance, which can trigger the symptoms of ADHD. The parents of ADHD children should check carefully whether their ADHD children can have an allergy to cow’s milk or not before feeding their children.
Pears: like apples, pears hold a good source of complex carbohydrates. If the children with ADHD do not like apples, the parents can choose pears. Eating pears can make the children have better sleep at night.
Tuna: the researches have proved that Omega 3 fatty acids can decrease significantly the symptoms of ADHD in children while tuna has an overwhelming source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The parents can be used as wraps, sandwiches and pasta salads. This is the very effective way to control the symptoms of ADHD at school.
Eggs: the amount of protein in eggs is higher than other food. Protein can help to keep the diets balanced and control the symptoms of ADHD children. Eggs can make the children with ADHD focus on tasks and increase the effecting time of ADHD medication. Eggs especially the boiled eggs should be the first choice for the ADHD children.
Nuts: Omega-3 fatty acids can be found not only in tuna but also nuts. The walnuts and Brazil buts are believed to be the most effective food for ADHD children when they need to stay under control their ADHD symptoms.
Spinach: the most effective vegetable for controlling ADHD symptoms in children is spinach. The leafy green vegetables are highly recommended by the doctors and spinach always stands at top. However, the children with ADHD often do not like vegetable in general or spinach in particular. The parents should blend it up alongside berries and other fruits so the children cannot feel that they are eating spinach.
Oranges: eating oranges and drinking orange juice are all effective in adding more complex carbohydrates of the children’s diet. Oranges are not only helpful in sleeping time but also controlling the ADHD symptoms.
Kiwi: along with apples and pears, kiwi is a good source of complex carbohydrates. Therefore, it can alter the apple or pear when the children become bored with the same fruits. Moreover, the children love kiwi a lot, so the will not hesitate to eat kiwi.
Salmon: the salmon can alleviate some symptoms of ADHD children since it is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. It is also the healthiest fish. The symptoms of ADHD can be reduced significantly after having salmon.
Whole grain cereals: cereal serves as the healthy breakfast options for ADHD kids. However, parents should remember some points. For those loving muti-grain options, multigrain should be the choice while the parents who fear that artificial colors and artificial sweeteners, Corn Flakes and Fiber 1 are better the Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms.
Beans: beans are a good source of protein. A handful of beans every day can be of great help in controlling the ADHD symptoms.
White fish: like salmon, white fish is the good source for Omega-3 fatty acids. White fish can serve as the alternative meal for the salmon.
Grapefruit: the grapefruit is another great alternative source of complex carbohydrates. Having grapefruit for the morning breakfast can give the ADHD children nutrients they need to go to school.
Chicken: Chicken boasts a wealth of health benefits, but the biggest nutritional factors when it comes to chicken as the protein. Most kids love the chicken and there are countless ways to incorporate it into the plan your weekly meals. From chicken salad and pizza to chicken soup and chicken stuffed with some of the choices that your kids will love. Add protein to your child’s diet will improve their focus and increase the duration of their ADHD medication works.
4. Foods that need to be avoided
Many researches have been carried out to answer the question whether eliminating certain foods can help to improve some behavioral issues. ADHD cannot be caused or cured by one specific food. The foods only have good impacts on some children.
Candy: candy has a significant amount of sugar and artificial colors, which contributes a very bad combination for the ADHD children. These ingredients can trigger the ADHD symptoms in particular hyperactivity.
Soda: the children with ADHD should stay away from soda. These sweet drinks often cause the same issues as sugars and sweeteners do. Moreover, soda has high fructose corn syrup and caffeine, which are bad for ADHD symptoms. According to a study of Dr. Barnhill, the children at the age of 5 drinking sodas regularly are more likely to show aggression and social withdrawal.
Frozen fruit and vegetables: although fruit and vegetables are good for treating ADHD, some frozen varieties can contain artificial colors. The parents should have careful check before starting to use.
Cake mixes and frosting: the high amounts of sugar and artificial colors in cake mix and frosting are the serious reasons for not eating these foods. They can lead to hyperactivity and some other ADHD symptoms. The experts in ADHD claim that “When frosting and cake mix contain artificial sweeteners, they increase the risk of ADHD symptoms more than natural sweeteners would”.
Energy drinks: more and more teenagers nowadays love energy drinks. However, the veritable treasure trove ingredients in these drinks can worsen ADHD symptoms. They also contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine and other stimulants.
Other food sensitivities
Many children have showed food sensitivities which can exhibit ADHD symptoms when they are exposed to certain foods. The sensitive foods that can trigger the symptoms of ADHD can be: milk, chocolate, soy, tomatoes, grapes and corn.
Although not being a formal treatment, foods can be used to improve the daily symptoms of the ADHD. The parents of ADHD children can make use of it to enhance the condition of their children.