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Five ADHD Diets that Work

While there's no such thing as a cure for ADHD, a number of children have been able to recover from chronic hyperactivity and inattention with the help of the right ADHD diet.  One of the most widely accepted theories about ADHD treatments is that the food a child eats can make the symptoms better or worse.  It's very likely that your child does not eat enough of the foods that make the symptoms go away. Most foods marketed toward children are not only deficient in nutrients, they also contain substances that aggravate the disorder. Try one of these five ADHD diets to get rid of these substances and help your child make up for any nutritional deficiencies.

Gluten-free casein-free diet

All kids love ice cream and pizza, but these foods and a number of other childhood favorites contain proteins called casein (from animal milk) and gluten (from wheat).  Casein and gluten are not harmful by themselves, but the human body is too inefficient to digest these proteins properly. Their undigested form creates a substance called opioid peptides, which travel to the brain and cause sedative effects.  The gluten-free casein-free diet involves removing all gluten and casein from a child's diet for several weeks and slowly reintroducing these foods to build a tolerance for these proteins.

Feingold diet

The Feingold diet has been around since the 1970s and was designed to treat ADHD even before the disorder was given this name. A doctor named Benjamin Feingold accidentally discovered that removing all foods with artificial coloring, preservatives, and flavoring reduced the hyperactive symptoms in children.  The Feingold diet has helped a number of children overcome ADHD since its inception, and has been redesigned to remove cosmetics and body care products that include these chemical additives.

Low-sugar high-protein diet

There's some truth to the belief that sugar causes ADHD. The brain needs glucose or blood sugar to function well, but certain fast-burning carbohydrates like refined cane sugar can deprive the brain of glucose. When a child eats a sugary food, this triggers the release of high amounts of insulin, a hormone that regulates how the cells use glucose. High levels of insulin cause cells to get glucose from the bloodstream, leaving little glucose for the brain to use. This in turn causes the brain to slow down and become unable to sustain focus.  Providing the brain with a steady amount of glucose requires a high protein diet with slow-burning carbohydrates like fruit.

Phosphate-free diet

One other substance that can trigger ADHD is phosphate, an essential nutrient that enables cells to carry out their regular functions.  In normal amounts, phosphates are good for the body, but most commercially available foods contain too much of this nutrient.  High amounts of phosphate slow down the body's ability to absorb calcium, zinc, and magnesium, which are also critical to the brain's functions.  A phosphate-free diet involves removing all foods with phosphates, such as baked products, cheese spread, commercially-made sauces, and soda.

Specific carbohydrate diet

Complex carbohydrates like grains, sucrose, and lactose can cause problems with the gut flora, which in turn trigger ADHD symptoms.  This can be resolved with the specific carbohydrate diet, where complex sugars are temporarily removed until gut flora balance has been achieved.