Food affects Behaviour

A study from the ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder) Research Centre in Eindhoven, Netherlands, led by Dr Lidy Pelsser, has confirmed that the elimination of certain foods from the diets of certain children can improve their behaviour.

The research study followed one hundred ADHD-diagnosed children aged between 4 and 8 years old for ten months. The children were split into a random elimination diet (RED) group or a control group. The RED group were put on a five-week restricted elimination diet, and the control group were given instruction on a healthy diet. After five weeks 78% of children in the RED group had an improvement in their symptoms, which can include hyperactivity, inattention, impulsive behaviour, plus symptoms of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) which is characterised by rebellious and hostile behaviour.

The restriction diet was tailored to each child, but was generally made up of meat, pears, rice and vegetables. After five weeks of generally positive reactions, the children were put into a challenge phase where two different types of food were introduced. One set of foods produced high levels of IgG (Immunoglobulin G) and one set of foods produced low levels of IgG. The purpose of this part of the tests was to determine whether IgG tests could be used to find out which foods should be eliminated from an ADHD child’s diet, but there was no correlation between IgG and behavioural symptoms. The RED diet can be used for individuals to find out which foods cause ADHD symptoms.

The Feingold Diet, founded in the late 60s and early 70s advocated removing all foods with synthetic flavourings and colourings, which is a good idea for everyone, not simply those with ADHD – but this recent research does show that children can have behavioural reactions to foods and synthetic chemicals. Earlier studies have shown that many children with ADHD are sensitive to soy, corn, legumes, milk, eggs and wheat. These results suggest that a dietary intervention should be the first treatment if a child is diagnosed with ADHD.

Source: PubMed


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First Published in 2010


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