A friend recently asked me about the link between refined sugar and additives in children with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorders. I am reposting this article and hope that you find it useful.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a childhood disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention. Not all ADHD sufferers experience all three behavioral symptoms, but each of them can lead to difficulty in academic, emotional, and social functioning of the child. ADHD diagnosis is made by satisfying a specific criteria, which may be associated with other neurological, behavioral, and developmental or learning disabilities.

Several studies in the United States report that approximately eight to ten percent of children meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Thus, ADHD is considered to be one of the most common childhood disorders. Boys are four time more likely to suffer from ADHD than girls.

ADHD has three subtypes. These are:

  1. Predominantly inattentive
  2. Predominantly hyperactive
  3. Combined

It is believed that children eventually outgrow ADHD; however, recent studies indicates that many children continue to show symptoms that can affect both their occupational and social functioning their entire lives. About 40 to 50 percent of all reported cases of ADHD hyperactive in children persist throughout adulthood.

Specific causes of ADHD are unknown, but there are factors that may aggravate the occurence of ADHD:

  1. Genetics– Studies show that ADHD may be inherited; genetics are listed in 75 percent of reported cases.
  2. Evolutionary theories– The theory proposes that hyperactivity may be an adaptive behavior in pre-modern humans; children diagnosed with ADHD retain some of these “hunter” characteristics associated with early pre-agricultural human society.
  3. Environmental – In most instances, the problem with inattentiveness and restlessness is an improper diet. A high-sugar diet filled with things that excite the brain (i.e. Glutamate), food dyes and harmful fats (Omega-6) will disrupt brain function. In this list, we must include environmental factors such as exposure to alcohol and tobacco smoke during the mother’s pregnancy.

Symptoms of ADHD vary depending on each of the three subtypes:

Inattentive ADHD:

  • Inability to pay attention to details
  • Difficulty with sustained attention in tasks or play activities
  • Listening problems
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Problems with organization
  • Avoidance or dislike of tasks that require mental effort
  • Distractibility
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD:

  • Squirming
  • Fidgeting
  • Cannot remain seated for a long time
  • Excessive running
  • Difficulty playing quietly
  • Excessive talking
  • Answering before hearing the full question
  • Interrupting in conversations
  • Impatient
  • Always roaming around

Combined ADHD:

  • May manifest symptoms from either inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive type

Over the past few years, complementary medicines and food supplements have been identified as potential ADHD remedies and triggers:

  • Fish oil– There is some evidence that fish oil can help improve ADHD symptoms. There are some findings that suggest that, in children aged eight to 12 years, fish oil supplementation may improve mental skills, such as organizational activities.
  • Be aware and limit the amount of flavoring and dyes in your child’s food.
  • Don’t allow glutamate in your child’s food (MSG, Caseinate, hydrolyzed proteins, soy proteins).In addition to reacting to artificial color and preservatives, ADHD children often have food intolerances that must be addressed. The most common allergenic foods among children are cow’s milk, corn, wheat, soy, peanuts and eggs. An experimental elimination diet would be of benefit. You can ask your doctor for allergy testing. The most popular is the radioallergosorbent (RAST) test that measure’s the body immune reaction to several foods. A better test is now available called antigen-leukocyte cellular antibody test (ALCAT). This test can churn out a list of reactive foods.