How to Treat ADHD Naturally

I believe in avoiding medication when possible which is why I am archiving this here. The recommendation of this diet leads me to believe ADHD could be tied to inflammation. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.

 

The Few Foods Elimination Diet for ADHD

The main elimination diet used in ADHD research is the Few Foods Diet.

It follows the same principles as other elimination diets, but is generally less restrictive.

Here’s how the Few Foods Diet works:

  • Elimination: For 1-5 weeks, follow a diet consisting only of foods that are not likely to trigger adverse reactions. If symptoms improve, enter the second phase.
  • Reintroduction: Every 3-7 days, reintroduce foods that may cause symptoms. If adverse effects occur, the food is considered to be “sensitizing.”
  • Treatment: Develop a personal diet plan that avoids sensitizing foods as much as possible, to help minimize your child’s symptoms.

Bottom Line: The Few Foods Diet is a three-phase approach to identifying and eliminating foods that may worsen ADHD symptoms.

Health Benefits of the Few Foods Diet

Twelve studies have examined the effects of the Few Foods Diet on symptoms of ADHD.

Five of these were uncontrolled trials, while seven were randomized, controlled trials.

Eleven studies found a decrease in symptoms for 50–82 percent of children, while one study reported improvements for 24 percent of children (14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22,23, 24, 25).

Additionally, some of the children showed more than a 50 percent improvement in behavior after the elimination phase of the diet (19, 21, 22, 24).

Many of the children also reported fewer headaches, stomach aches, fits, muscle pains and nasal symptoms. Parents reported fewer problems with sleeping and fewer nighttime awakenings in their children (16, 17, 18, 19).

In one of the studies, these effects were even noticeable on a brain scan when the children ate a sensitizing food (21).

A 2012 review, using eight of these studies, reported an overall effect size very similar to the average effect size of common ADHD medications like Ritalin or Concerta (1, 26, 27).

Several experts agree that the evidence supporting the Few Food Diet is convincing and it is effective for many children with ADHD (8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 28).

Bottom Line: The Few Foods Diet has been shown to decrease ADHD symptoms for some children—often more than half. Less headaches, fits and sleeping problems have also been reported.

What to Eat on the Few Foods Diet

For 1–4 weeks, only eat the foods listed below. If you don’t notice improvements to symptoms after 1–2 weeks, you may want to discontinue the diet.

However, the length of this period differs.

Some people see symptoms improve greatly in the first three days, while others don’t experience improvements until the second week.

The Few Foods Diet typically consists of 2–5 protein sources, 2–3 carb sources, 1–2 fat sources, 2 types of fruit, a range of vegetables and drinks.

Which Foods Should You Eat?

  • Protein: Beef, lamb, wild game, chicken and turkey.
  • Fat: Sunflower and rapeseed oil.
  • Green vegetables: Brussels sprouts, spinach, artichokes, cabbage, bamboo shoots,broccoli, bok choy, asparagus and cucumbers.
  • Other vegetables: Mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, leeks, garlic, radishes, squash, pumpkin, zucchini, beets and root vegetables.
  • Spices: Rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, iodized salt, turmeric, curry powder, basil, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, tarragon and coriander.
  • Drinks: Enriched rice milk, carbonated water, tea (except for vanilla, peppermint, cinnamon, fruit or licorice tea), pear juice, homemade juices and smoothies.
  • Other foods: Tapioca, rice bran, rice flour, potato flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, baking powder, arrowroot and ginger.

Which Foods Should You Avoid?

If you find the Few Foods Diet too hard to follow, eliminating the top eight allergens may also give you results. Here are the top 8 allergenic foods (14, 18, 19):

  • Peanuts.
  • Tree nuts.
  • Shellfish.
  • Soybeans.

Overall, milk and wheat are the most common offenders. For this reason, sometimes people also start by just eliminating dairy and wheat (4, 15, 23).

Other foods that often affect behavior include oats, oranges, corn, chocolate, cinnamon,licorice, tomatoes and pork.

Which Food Additives Should You Avoid?

It may also be a good idea to avoid artificial food colorants and preservatives, which have been shown to affect hyperactivity in children (29, 30, 31, 32).

artificial-colors-and-preservatives-chart-for-adhd_750

Bottom Line: Stick to the foods on this list as much as possible. However, more moderate restriction may also help improve symptoms.

 

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