Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, causes individuals to have difficulties paying attention or focusing. Like many other conditions, it is thought that diet can help control ADHD. Making changes to the diet, as well as removing certain foods from the diet, may offer some improvement from those who suffer from this condition.
While it is thought that a minimal amount of caffeine can help improve a ADHD sufferer’s symptoms, the side effects are thought to be much worse. Caffeine is also thought to cause hyperactivity immediately after it has been consumed. It is most ideal for ADHD sufferers to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine from soda or coffee.
It was once thought that food additives (food colorings, artificial flavors and preservatives) increased symptoms among ADHD sufferers. This is extremely controversial, but studies have shown that certain additives have adverse effects on ADHD sufferers – children, in particular. It is best to stay away from red and yellow food colorings, MSG, aspartame and nitrites.
Most medical experts recommend that ADHD sufferers limit their amount of daily sugar intake. While it is not a direct cause of ADHD, sugar can cause hyperactivity or what we commonly refer to as a “sugar rush” immediately after it has been consumed. This problem can be harder to control – especially within children who suffer from the condition.
ADHD sufferers will want to try to incorporate higher amounts of protein into their diet. Protein is known to help improve focus and may actually help ADHD medications work for longer periods of time. Lean meats, low-fat dairy, beans and eggs are all excellent sources of protein. Fish and nuts which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to be beneficial for ADHD sufferers.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that complex carbohydrates are always a healthier option than simple carbohydrates. Filling up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains is healthier for everyone. For those who suffer from sleeping problems due to ADHD, complex carbohydrates may offer some relief. Simple carbohydrates, which tend to be high in sugar, may lead to hyperactivity.
It is important to keep in mind that the role diet plays in controlling ADHD is very controversial. While most professionals believe that diet plays a role in managing symptoms of the condition, there have only been a few studies done to date. ADHD sufferers are recommended to make dietary changes in addition to taking their medication. With so little research done on how diet plays a role in managing the condition, it is not currently recommended for individuals to try to control ADHD with diet alone.
Mayo Clinic, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.”
Web MD, “ADHD Diets.”