Last week, I wrote about the natural treatment of ADHD through diet. Today, I would like to talk (well, actually write) about a research done by Dr Feingold, an allergy specialist who found in the mid 70’s that 30-50% of hyperactive kids improved when they switched to a diet free of artificial colors, artificial flavors and a group of substances called “Salicylates”, which occur naturally in many fruits.
According to Dr Feingold, Salicylates are the material from which Aspirin is made and some derivative of it was found in high dosage in kids with Autism and other communication disorders and to a lesser extent in the urine of kids suffering from ADHD.
These compounds are normally controlled by a certain enzyme in the body, but this enzyme was found to be missing or defective in 50% of the Autistic children who participated in the research.
Dr Feingold claims ADHD is probably an allergic reaction to some food substance. If the source of the allergy is removed from the kids’ diet, there should be an improvement in their behavior.
The main idea is that kids with ADHD do not do things to annoy the adults in their life. They have a certain deficiency or a chemical malfunction that causes them to behave the way they do.
While most of the research done on ADHD points out unhealthy food as a cause (artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and junk food), Dr Feingold also found that even natural and healthy food items, like fruit, can cause difficulties for kids with unusual enzymes and chemical makeup.
Foods for ADHD kids to avoid
Here is a list of food containing Salicylates that was found to be very helpful to kids with ADHD. Please bear in mind these foods are not considered unhealthy. They only contain a substance that cannot be digested properly by specific kids:
- Cherry Bark
- Cucumbers and pickles
- Mint and mint flavoring
- Peppers (red and chili)
- Willow bark
- Wintergreen and oil of wintergreen
Eliminate Salicylates from your kids’ diet
The best thing you can do for your own child is test whether or not the theory applies to him or her specifically. Here are some tips:
- To make life simpler, start by erasing food items you do not eat at all from this list above. For instance, take off fruit that you cannot get in the current season.
- Have a plan for two weeks without these foods. To have a positive focus, make a list of all the foods you can eat and follow it.
- Make a record of behaviors and food eaten every day to find out what made the difference. The hardest thing is to be able to make the connection between the sources of a problem to the problem. If your kids have a severe allergy, you will see it immediately – hard to breath, swollen face, etc – but most allergens accumulate and you see their effects only hours or days later. Make a list of all the things your kids eat throughout the experiment.
- Visit www.feingold.org to learn more about how allergies affect ADHD (and various other things) and how you can make things better just by changing your diet.
- Use the techniques I described last week in ADHD and Food.
Bear in mind that some of the most common allergies which can increase the condition are: wheat, eggs, milk, chocolate, corn and soybeans. Personally, I would find it easier to start with them.
Good luck! Remember that if you find a natural way to help your ADHD kid, it is the best thing you can do for yourself.