Diet Change May Reduce ADHD Symptoms

A dairy-free diet may help protein imbalances that could cause ADHD and other disorders, a study of Norwegian children suggests.

Monday February 25th - 9:40am

A small group of researchers and educators have followed the development of 23 children in Norway who were placed on dairy-free diets between 1996 and 1997. The children were all diagnosed with ADHD or a related disorder, and were all found to have abnormal peptide levels.

The dairy-free diet was introduced in the hope of providing evidence for a theory proposed by Norwegian researcher Karl Ludvig Reichelt. His theory states that a metabolic disorder that makes it difficult to digest and break down certain proteins can lead to symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. It is based on research that found that the accumulation of peptides, evidence that proteins are not broken down correctly, can have an opium-like effect on the brain.

Of the 23 children originally placed on the diet, six are still on the strict plan today. These adolescents, as well as their parents and teachers, say that the diet has caused a dramatic change in their behavior and academic achievement.

However, one of the biggest problems with the study is that it does not meet many of the accepted scientific research standards. Most importantly, there is no available data on how many children with ADHD also have a metabolic disorder. The proposed diet would only work for those children, and, while many in the medical community accept it as an alternative treatment, most feel more research is necessary before its effectiveness can really be known.

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