How to Treat ADHD Naturally With Diet

2. What is ADHD, and Does Diet Play a Role?

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

Many factors may affect its development. While the exact cause is unclear, research shows a large genetic component (1, 2).

ADHD can greatly affect people’s lives, especially in terms of academic and career outcomes (3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

As there is no cure for ADHD, most treatments aim to manage symptoms. The most popular treatments involve behavioral therapy and medication, but research has also been done on dietary interventions (8, 9).

Two main types of studies have looked into the effects of diet on ADHD symptoms:

  • Supplement studies: These studies look into the effects of dietary supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins or minerals.
  • Elimination studies: These studies look into the effects of eliminating certain foods, additives or ingredients from the diet.

For a detailed review of these studies, check out this article: Does Nutrition Play a Role in ADHD?

However, it should be noted that dietary modification as a treatment for ADHD is still viewed as controversial.

Nonetheless, consistent evidence from strong studies shows that elimination diets can greatly decrease ADHD symptoms for some children (8, 10, 11, 12, 13).

Bottom Line: ADHD is a common behavioral disorder. While therapy and medication remain the most common treatments, research shows that an elimination diet can help some people manage symptoms.

The Few Foods Elimination Diet for ADHD

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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.

—> NEXT: Health Benefits of the Few Foods Diet