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Why Sugar is Kryptonite: ADHD Diet Truths

Does an ADHD diet work? Yes, following an ADHD nutrition plan rich in protein and vitamins can help control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But only if you avoid sugar, artificial flavors, and common allergens as well. Here's what to eat and what to avoid.

19 Comments: Why Sugar is Kryptonite: ADHD Diet Truths

  1. I actually joined just to comment on the comment from [email protected]. My mother is constantly referring to the link he refers to as proof that kids are not affected by sugar, and that it is a placebo effect. So of course she gives him treats whenever she likes.

    Even if you ignore what millions of parents around the world have noticed about the effect of sugar on children, there is still a perhaps little known method of determining whether a mother has pregnancy related diabetes. I do not have diabetes, and am naturally slender. When I was pregnant with my son, I was given a glucose screening They basically give women a cup of glucose. My baby went completely nuts. He was turning and kicking basically doing in the womb what children at birthday parties all around the world do once the candies have been doled out. I felt truly sorry for him. It must have been very uncomfortable. After about an hour he started to calm down. In effect, they give watered sugar to mothers so that their unborn babies will be ACTIVATED.

    I myself have ADD, and had ADHD as a child. Sugar makes me tired immediately. I cannot concentrate when I eat it. But if I can’t sleep, I just grab something sweet and dream well. My son is not hyper, unless he eats sugar, or, worse, something with sugar and art food colouring. When we cut them out, we could finally resume taking him to the movies since he no longer uncontrollably rocked and kicked the seat in front of him.

    [email protected]
    September 23, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    I have to agree with you 100%. From my understanding the whole sugar causes hyperactivity thing is a myth. Its been proven to be caused by the placebo affect. Even though mothers will swear it causes hyperactivity its a proven fallacy, this was even brought up in the TV show QI with Stephen fry. In fact new advice for those with ADHD is to sip on a sugary drink, because it is vital that regions of the brain involved in controlling concentration chiefly the prefrontal cortex must bee supplied with enough energy. Perhaps the author of the article meant avoid large quantities of sugar to avoid the crash after large amounts of insulin are released? I generally try to eat healthy and sip on Powerade or some juice during my classes.
    There is a video on YouTube from a prestigious ADHD researcher that explains this Russell Barkley, time index 7:45

  2. Multivitamin Syrup – BioTone vitamins minerals Syrup is an amino acid and multivitamin preparation recommended as a dietary supplement for overall Health

  3. Russell Barkley the leading expert on ADHD, disagrees with your claim on sugar. There is no evidence that sugar increases hyperactivity

    1. The FDA article you linked appears to say that Picamilion can’t be labeled as a “dietary ingredient” because it doesn’t meet their definition of such. It also says it’s not a prescription drug in the US, but is in Russia. I don’t see that they said this item is unsafe or “banned,” but simply mislabeled.

      Penny
      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      1. Thanks for responding. I understand that but I also couldn’t find it anywhere I got really confused and overwhelmed. Do you happen to have any direct links Maybe? I really want to give this a try and all I could find was overseas

  4. Now i know why Cod liver Oil was part of my Breakfast everyday 60to 70 years ago liquid and then the pills . With 11 older siblings and a mother who used diet to live to 97 she must of learned a thing or two long before I came along. Of course I was not the only ADHD member of the family. It went well with the quaker oat porridge, and milk, OJ, whole wheat toast and coffee with lots of milk. Milk itself made me throw up so i was treated to all kinds of combinations and alternates in my diet. The coffee worked well for concentration, and was part of breakfast from the age of 3 or 4.. unfortunately i learned to use coffee as my goto beveredge of the day until I retired. , 8 to 15 cups a day. Finally off cafenateted coffee at age 70 i was diagnosed.

  5. This study appears to only have focused on children. Is it fair to assume adults should be taking the same approach or are their other minerals that should be considered? My other question is how long does the sugar stay in your system?

    I was once told by a Dr. that the only organ in your body that likes sugar is your tongue. All other organs and bodily processes attempt to discharge or process it as soon as possible. Clearly, it’s just not good for anyone.

    Thanks

    1. Sorry but that is completely wrong. Glucose is the primary source of fuel for all the cells in our body especially the brain. Our cells do not try to discharge it as quickly as possible. In fact the reason we have evolved to enjoy the taste is because it is so vitaly important. Excess sugar is stored in the liver and muscles, too can of course lead do weight gain if the liver is full, but to demonize it when in fact low blood sugar can worsen ADHD symptoms is wrong.

      This video explains it quite well in relation to adhd(you can skip to time index 7:45)
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_tpB-B8BXk0

    2. Sure, sugar gets processed quickly, because the body needs it. What does it turn into? Energy, true, which the body also needs to keep up the daily tasks like keeping warm and digesting food, but also freeing dopamine and endorphins. So think twice before you call it generally bad.

      Listen, I have to keep sugar down at a low level because of my weight. And I do restrict it greatly. But to ban it altogether and call it “kryptonite” is something that is very harsh. Kind of “black and white”, don’t you think? “All sugar is evil”

  6. I fail to see in this article exactly WHY sugar needs to be avoided. Is there any scientific researce done specifically on people with ADHD available to back this up?
    Remember, sugar is a stimulant and used correctly, can be a natural and effective help in day to day situations.

    I have a hard time when people try to generally ban foods based on little or no evidence.

    Remember banning especially sugar effects the quality of life very strongly for all involved and I hesitate to do it to people whose quality of life is already so low to begin with. Why do you?

    1. Regarding your comment: Is there any scientific researce done specifically on people with ADHD available to back this up? I believe the author provided ample scientific research to make such a claim.

      1-Several studies suggest that some kids who have ADHD are “turned on” by copious amounts of sugar.

      2-One study concluded that the more sugar hyperactive children consumed, the more destructive and restless they became.

      3-A study conducted at Yale Universityindicates that high-sugar diets increase inattention in some kids.

      However, that’s actually not why I registered specifically to respond to your comment. Indeed, the exact reason is because of your comment insinuating that the quality of life for people living with ADHD is “already so low to begin with”. Do you have any scientific evidence to back up your gross generalization?

      I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5. At the age of 36 I can tell you, beyond a shadow of doubt, that sugar negatively affects my attention, impulsivity, and anxiety levels. I won’t say that I never eat sugary foods, but I regulate my intake.

      I’m married with two beautiful children, I’m a homeowner, I have two masters degrees, a PhD, and I am highly respected in my field. All in all, I would say that my quality of life is extremely high.

      I take offense to your uneducated, insulting, and judgmental commentary. For anyone reading this article to gather information on how to best assist yourself or a family member who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, please do not read this person’s post and be discouraged. ADHD is manageable and you can live a very happy life.

      1. Hi
        I’m sorry to hear that your interpretation of my comment has caused you offense. I did not mean to offend.

        Maybe I was taken by surprise by the generalized and offensive title of the Article that insinuated that sugar is “kryptonite” for ADHD brains, although in actuality, research is not conclusive. And when research does indicate that sugar is detrimental, it is only detrimental for some. Which means that maybe for some, it could also have good effects – like the results of the Yale study you mentioned seem to indicate.

        Banning sugar is very much a restriction and narrows the quality of life.

        And I admit that my choice of words in the original may be misleading and I’m sorry for that. A more precise formulation would be “Remember banning especially sugar effects the quality of life very strongly for all involved and I hesitate to do it to people whose quality of life may already be so low to begin with.”

        I’m very glad that the quality of your life is so high. It shows that it is possible to have if the condition met with acceptance in the environment and appropriate treatment.

        But please know that there is still much to be done until everyone with ADHD can have the good fortune to achieve the quality of life you have. Just look at the forum and you will see ample evidence in practically every new subject for my statement. I don’t believe you need a study for that. Just the diagnosis criteria “Severe: (Many symptoms are above required 6 are endorsed and/or symptoms are severe; impairment in social or school functioning is severe)” required to make the diagnosis is ample scientific evidence about the quality of life. If you are severely impaired in your functioning you most likely also do not have the quality of life that other neurotypicals have. It is the logical consequence of the diagnosis. If you have a very good quality of life at diagnosis you most likely will not be diagnosed as having ADHD. That a good quality of life can become possible is a result of hard work, an accepting social environment and good treatment. And that is a wonderful thing to be hoped for.

        I myself feel hurt at your very strong words about my commentary being uneducated. I stand by my opinion that the very general comments in the article are based on extremely weak evidence. To base an entire treatment philosophy on a few very conflicting studies is in my opinion not professional.

      2. I have to agree with you 100%. From my understanding the whole sugar causes hyperactivity thing is a myth. Its been proven to be caused by the placebo affect. Even though mothers will swear it causes hyperactivity its a proven fallacy, this was even brought up in the TV show QI with Stephen fry. In fact new advice for those with ADHD is to sip on a sugary drink, because it is vital that regions of the brain involved in controlling concentration chiefly the prefrontal cortex must bee supplied with enough energy. Perhaps the author of the article meant avoid large quantities of sugar to avoid the crash after large amounts of insulin are released? I generally try to eat healthy and sip on Powerade or some juice during my classes.
        There is a video on YouTube from a prestigious ADHD researcher that explains this Russell Barkley, time index 7:45

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_tpB-B8BXk0

      3. Interestingly enough although not diagnosed as ADHD until a few years ago 30 years ago I was tested for Hypoglycemia a test that involved drinking a sugar saturated drink and then testing your blood for how your body absorbed and then ridded itself of it. Also recorded how mood was changing. And how room temp felt. I was classic with the inevitable crash as my body expelled allmost all of the sugar in the 20 minutes between blood tests and also went through all the classic symptoms.
        Went on a sugar free diet and after a few weeks my energy levels increased remarkably. I described it then as after having run a marathon in a chest high pool of water compared to running on dry land.

      4. I found this article helpful, and like anything I read, I took it as advice only. I have to say that after reading the article in full I found the title a bit hyperbolic, as only 2 paragraphs were actually about sugar. However, the article itself was had some great information as I build a greater foundation of knowledge about ADHD. I’m a newbie, and it’s nice to have a community that understands.

  7. This is generally good advice but do NOT supplement with IRON until blood ferritin levels have been measured. This can be DEADLY for anyone with hemochromatosis (iron overload) where iron builds up to dangerous levels and can shut down the pituitary as well as affect the heart and liver. Iron must be kept in BALANCE and clinically I’ve seen ADDers with HIGH and LOW iron so this is a case where correlation does not equal causation. B-Vitamins must be in a highly bio-available form if taken as a supplement, and any Omega 3 supplements must be high quality to avoid heavy metal contamination as well as tested for rancidity. For the latter, fresh wild caught fatty fish such as Salmon or Trout consumed 3 times a week is a critical foundation upon which to supplement with Omega 3s

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