ADHD Diet and Exercise in Children

Tess Thompson



It is believed that there are many possible causes for ADHD. Hence, ADHD treatment should be based on a multifaceted approach that should encompass medication, behavioral therapy, dietary intervention and exercise. A combined approach has been shown to have imparted the maximum benefit to the children diagnosed with ADHD. Of the various causes for ADHD, some important factors that are related to the diet are nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, food additives and heavy metal toxicity. Though there is no conclusive evidence to prove that a particular type of a diet will offer a positive benefit, experts agree that a well balanced diet and exercise can go a long way to help in managing this condition effectively.

It is important to exercise daily. ADHD is a brain-based disorder in which the chemistry of the brain (neurotransmitters) is not functioning normally. Exercise helps in normalizing the brain chemistry.

It is postulated that cognition and behavior are mediated by monoamine neurotransmitters and the food that we eat contains the precursors of these chemicals. Hence, dietary intervention is another line of treatment that is known to have an impact on ADHD condition. There are two approach of dietary intervention. The first is based on the concept of elimination of foods to which the ADHD children might be sensitive to. Feingold diet is the most famous of the diet elimination approach. This diet plan is based on the principle that the additives used in the processed foods, especially artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives and salicylates induces hyperactivity in sensitive children and adults and hence such foods need to be eliminated from the diet. One should consult an expert before experimenting with the Feingold diet.

The other approach of dietary intervention is nutritional supplementation. It encompasses the supplementation of the diet with the nutrients that are missing in the diet of the ADHD child. Again, the evaluation of the nutrients that are missing in the diet should be done by an expert. There are many nutritional supplements that are available in the market today that help in providing a specific nutrient which might be missing from the diet. Supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids can help alleviate the deficiency of these acids, which are a component of the membranes of the nerve cells. Glyconutritional supplements, which contain glucose, galactose, mannose and other basic saccharides, are becoming popular. Two initial studies have shown a link between the consumption of these glyconutritional supplements and the reduction in hyperactivity and inattention symptoms. Other supplements consist of single vitamin megadoses, recommended daily allowance vitamins, natural remedies for ADHD etc.

Experts agree that there are many different causes for this condition. And if there are many reasons, there have to be a number of different treatments, combining pharma drugs, natural medicines for ADHD, proper diet planning and behavior therapy. However, before starting with any treatment, it is prudent to consult your doctor.

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