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Are dietary inter­ven­tions effec­tive for treat­ing ADHD? For many par­ents and pro­fes­sion­als, try­ing to parse through the dif­fer­ent claims about the impact of diet on ADHD has been chal­leng­ing and confusing. At this point, sub­stan­tial research on how dietary inter­ven­tions impact ADHD has accu­mu­lated and sev­eral meta-analyses of this work have been pub­lished. Recently, a review of sev­eral meta-analyses of dietary inter­ven­tions for ADHD was pub­lished [Research review: The role of diet in the treat­ment of attention-deficit/hyper­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der — an appraisal of the evi­dence on effi­cacy and rec­om­men­da­tions on the design of future stud­ies]. In this paper, the authors sum­ma­rize find­ings across 6 dif­fer­ent meta-analyses of the impact of diet on ADHD to pro­vide a high level sum­mary of the best avail­able evi­dence to date.

Types of dietary interventions j0430914

Three types of dietary inter­ven­tions were reviewed — Restricted Elim­i­na­tion Diets (RED), Arti­fi­cial food col­or­ing exclu­sion (AFCE), and sup­ple­men­ta­tion with free fatty acids (SFFA). Although other types of sup­ple­ments beyond free fatty acids have been inves­ti­gated, the authors felt there was not suf­fi­cient research on any sin­gle approach to include in their summary.

1. Restricted elim­i­na­tion diets (RED) — There are 2 dif­fer­ent approaches to imple­ment­ing this diet. In one approach, the child is placed on an extremely restricted diet, e.g., rice, turkey, a range of veg­eta­bles (let­tuce, car­rots, cau­li­flower, cab­bage, beets), pears and water; this is some­times referred to as the Few Food Diet. When a reduc­tion in ADHD behav­iors results — this would gen­er­ally occur within 2–3 weeks if the diet is going to have a pos­i­tive effect — new foods can be added back one at a time to see if they are well-tolerated or lead to an increase in prob­lem behav­iors. Alter­na­tively, par­tic­u­lar foods that are sus­pected to exac­er­bate a child’s symp­toms may be removed one at a time to see if the child’s behav­ior improves.

2. Arti­fi­cial food col­or­ing exclu­sion (AFCE)- As the title indi­cates, this involves efforts to remove all arti­fi­cial food col­or­ings from a child’s diet, e.g.,Yellow #6, Yel­low #5, Sodium Ben­zoate, Blue #2, etc., and observ­ing whether this is asso­ci­ated with a reduc­tion in ADHD behav­iors. Care­fully con­ducted tri­als have demon­strated that AFC’s – in amounts chil­dren could typ­i­cally con­sume – can increase ADHD symp­toms in many children.

3. Essen­tial fatty acid sup­ple­men­ta­tion — Cer­tain fatty acids, e.g., Omega 3 and Omega 6, pro­mote neural func­tion­ing. These fatty acids are called essen­tial because they are not syn­the­sized in the body and must be ingested. Chil­dren with ADHD may have lower lev­els of essen­tial fatty acids rel­a­tive to peers and sev­eral stud­ies have demon­strated a link between low lev­els of EFAs and the sever­ity of ADHD symp­toms. Stud­ies inves­ti­gat­ing the ben­e­fits of fatty acid sup­ple­men­ta­tion for youth with ADHD raise fatty acid lev­els by admin­is­ter­ing cap­sules con­tain­ing the fatty acids or some­times by intro­duc­ing diets rich in fish products. – See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/science/3_dietary_interventions_that_can_help_children_with_adhd_especially_when_pr