Scientists finally agree with parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) who have suspected a connection between the kinds of foods their children eat and their behavior and symptoms.
Two recent studies show a relationship between diet and ADD/ADHD symptoms. One, published in Pediatrics, concluded that pesticides, specifically organophosphates, found on fruits and vegetables may be linked to ADD/ADHD. The higher the levels of the compounds detected in a child’s urine, the more likely the chance of having ADD/ADHD. (Solution? Eat organic, suggest the study’s authors.) Another study, published in Journal of Attention Disorders, showed that a Western diet -- processed meats, fast foods, high-fat dairy products, and sugary foods -- doubled the risk of having an ADD/ADHD diagnosis, compared with eating a healthier diet.
Nutrition affects the ADD brain in three ways. Brain cells, like other cells in the body, need proper nutrition to carry out their functions; the myelin sheath, which covers the axons of brain cells, as insulation covers electrical wires, needs the right levels of nutrients to speed transmission of the electrical signals between brain cells; neurotransmitters -- dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine -- are dependent on diet for their production.
If the right nutrients aren’t accessible to the brain, its circuits misfire. Read on to find out what nutrients an ADD/ADHD brain needs to function well.
This article comes from the Winter 2010 issue of ADDitude. To read this issue of ADDitude in full, buy the back issue.