Major Pediatric Journal Confirms Diet and ADHD Connection

Some patients do not respond to ADHD medication and in some patients ADHD medications are not indicated because of co-occurring conditions such as Tourette’s syndrome, Anxiety or other side effects. In patients with Sluggish Cognitive Tempo and Inattentive ADHD treatment failures may be more common. Psychiatrists and mental health specialist are coming around to believing that for a certain subgroup of patients with ADHD symptoms, dietary changes may be the answer.

According to J. Gordon Millichap, MD, and Michelle M. Yee, CPNP, of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, a diet of real food is a great alternative for parents of children that do not respond to medications, for parents that want an alternative to medications or for children that may have dietary vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Their findings, just published in the Online version of the journal Pediatrics concluded that a diet that was low in saturated fats, high in fruits, vegetables and grains was one of the very best alternatives to drug therapy. The also noted that Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements had been shown, in well performed controlled studies, to help with ADHD symptoms.

Millichap and Yee did a literature review of 70 trials that used diet as a medical intervention for the treatment of ADHD symptoms and found the following:

  • Diet was an intervention that was easy for parents to implement.
  • The symptoms of ADHD were significantly associated with “Western” diets.
  • Children with allergies have improved ADHD symptoms when foods that contain colorings, preservatives, and allergens such wheat, dairy, nuts and citrus are restricted.
  • Zinc and iron deficiency may cause symptoms in a small group of patients with ADHD and confirmed deficiencies should receive supplements or appropriate dietary adjustments.
  • The best trial performed to date on the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids confirmed that these supplements are helpful for the treatment of ADHD symptoms.
  • The connection between eating sugar and ADHD symptoms are unclear.

Regarding fatty acid supplementation, Yee and Millichap reported that other trials that have failed to confirm benefits may have failed to do so because the researchers of those trials used too many different methodologies to come to any firm conclusions. They also report that they, themselves, now recommend these supplements to their patients but not as a sole treatment for ADHD symptoms.

The researchers are quoted as saying the following: “Supplemental diet therapy is simple, relatively inexpensive, and more acceptable to patient and parent,”

Millichap and Yee concluded. “Public education regarding a healthy diet pattern and lifestyle to prevent or control ADHD may have greater long-term success.”