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ADHD Causes: Food Allergies

Did you know that food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances can play a role in causing or worsening ADHD?

Although the role played by food allergies is hotly debated among ADHD experts, the evidence is certainly suggestive. One research study has demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that food allergies can trigger attention problem and hyperactivity in children by disrupting their brain wave activation patterns. Food allergies make the nervous system either speed up or slow down, which can result in the core symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattention. 

Food allergies can also explain some of the other health problems experienced by children with ADHD, such as eczema, asthma, and sleeping problems.  Although practically any food can cause an allergic reaction, the most common ones include dairy products (casein), wheat products (gluten), eggs, chocolate, citrus fruits (especially oranges), soya, yeast, and refined sugar.

There are two main challenges to finding out whether your child's ADHD is triggered by food allergies. The first one is that most medical doctors do not even consider food allergies as a potential factor, andwill go straight to medicating your child. The second is that food allergies are not easily identified by traditional allergy tests. Traditional medical allergy tests measure molecules called IgE.  If a child has an allergy to bee stings, he or she will have an immediate reaction each time a bee stings him or her. His or her blood will produce IgE.  Food allergies cause delayed reactions – it sometimes takes up to 72 hours before the symptoms appear – that make them difficult to diagnose.  Food allergies do not elevate IgE, but rather another molecule called IgG. To diagnose them, you therefore need a special test that is not often performed by traditional medical doctors.

To understand this, think of the allergic child as a barrel.  As long as the barrel is only partially full, the symptoms won't appear.  There are several things that can fill up the barrel.  For instance, your child is sensitive to orange, chocolate, and cats.  As long as he only drinks orange juice or only plays with the cat, the barrel will be partially full.   Then one day, he drinks orange juice with his lunch, eats a bar of chocolate for dessert, and plays with the cat afterwards.  The combination of all these allergens will make the barrel overflow and symptoms appear.

There are several tests that help determine whether food allergies play a role in your child's ADHD, including muscle testing through Applied Kinesiology and special blood tests that can detect these delayed reactions. In fact, testing for food allergies is one of the first steps of the UnRitalin Solution.  If food allergies are confirmed, we recommend  eliminating all the involved foods for at least one month (in some cases more for gluten and casein) to see if it makes a difference.

Eliminating foods may sometimes be difficult. You may be facing challenges from other family members or even your medical doctor. As well, it is sometimes difficult to ensure your child does not eat the forbidden foods. It is so easy for Grandma or a friend during recess at school to pass on just a little cookie. This is why, in the UnRitalin Solution, we also use desensitization techniques.