How does diet influence ADHD symptoms
Posted on December 7th, 2014

Dr Hector Perera        London

There are two types of approved colour additives – dyes and lakes. Dyes are water-soluble and usually come in the form of powders, granules, or liquids. Lakes are not water-soluble. They are found in products containing fats and oils.

Some food colourings are synthetically produced. Examples of these colour additives include FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2 and FD&C Green No. 3. Other food colourings come from pigments of vegetables, minerals, or animals. Examples of these natural additives include beta-carotene, grape skin extract, caramel colour, and saffron.

Does sugar cause symptoms of ADHD?

Processed sugars and carbohydrates may have an effect on a child’s activity level. These sugars produce a rapid increase in blood glucose levels because they enter the bloodstream so quickly. A child may become more active due to an adrenaline rush produced by this blood sugar spike.

Ben Feingold created a popular elimination diet designed to treat hyperactivity. This diet proposes the elimination of artificial colourings, flavourings, and preservatives in order to decrease hyperactivity. Some studies have disproved Feingold’s theory. Nevertheless, many parents who have tried it have reported an improvement in their child’s behaviour.

Regardless of whether a child suffers from ADHD, children should eat processed sugars in moderation, if at all. High-sugar foods contribute to tooth decay, contain empty calories that can lead to obesity, and tend to have little nutritional value.

ADHD and food additives

As reported by Amanda Gardner the health news reporter there are a number of food additives that are responsible for ADHD behaviour.

Will eliminating dye-containing foods from a child’s diet help ADHD? Experts say there’s not enough evidence to recommend this action, although a small subset of children may benefit. Most studies of a possible link analysed blends of additives, not single ingredients, making it difficult to find a culprit.

However, here’s a list of additives that could aggravate attention problems, although none (with the exception of Yellow No. 5) has been studied alone in humans. A comprehensive list of dyes in food products can be found at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Another food additive is Blue No. 1 also known as: Brilliant blue and used as a food colouring. It is found in some foods in US market such as in certain kinds of chips, French onions, chocolates, ice cream products, Chew Candy, chewing gums and far too many to mention. I am sure many of us are not familiar with these products but just buy and eat. They are in attractive packaging so the kids tend to buy or actually grab hold and dump into the shopping trolley.

Another food additive that is used as a colouring is Blue No. 2 also known as Indigo tine. This chemical is supposed to be found in a number of children’s food such as in sweets, chocolates and biscuits. Even if they are mentioned, sometimes they may be not found in the supermarkets in England.

Then there is Green No.3. A food colouring, though rarely used these days. It is usually found in candy, beverages, ice creams and puddings. Then Orange B. A food colouring, but no longer used, Sausage casings. Red No. 3. Also known as: Carmoisine. A food colouring found only in a few types of food products such as in Candy, cake icing, chewing gum. Sodium benzoate another food additive and also a food preservative. This food additive or which as a food preservative is found in some fruit juices, carbonated beverages, and pickles.
You’ll find sodium benzoate in abundance in acidic foods. It is used to stymie the growth of microorganisms, according to the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Then Red No, also known as: Allura red. A food colouring and the most widely used food dye in the U.S, trumping both Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6. It is found in a number children’s food. Then there is Yellow No. 5, also known as: Tartrazine. Yellow No. 5 is the only food dye that has been tested alone and not simply as part of a mix. Those studies did link it to hyperactivity. It is the second most commonly used dye in the U.S. This is found mainly in cheese and hamburgers.
 This is not the end, there are far too many of these in food but who would check the good and bad effects on health when one goes shopping? They just buy or the kids grab and drop into the trolley so the parents would pay for them. If there were more than two or children in the family shopping trip, one can imagine how many things that each one grabs and drop into the shopping trolley. These are most widely used food dye in the U.S than in England.

 ADHD Hyperactivity and Food Dyes

Artificial dyes in foods can cause hyperactivity in a child with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD). Here are healthy substitutes.

Some mothers served breakfast for their little ones, with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD), little did she know that the tasty foods he was gobbling up — a blueberry muffin, a bowl of Fruit Loops, and a glass of Citrus Punch — would worsen his ADHD symptoms, making the child more inattentive and fidgety.

Although the child knew his math problems perfectly the night before, he did poorly on the day’s test because he couldn’t focus on his teacher’s instructions. Then a few mothers found out that it wasn’t the foods themselves, or their high sugar content, that increased her son’s distraction, but the rainbow of artificial colours they contained.

Studies published in The LancetPaediatrics, and Journal of Paediatrics suggest that some children with ADHD are adversely affected by food additives. And a new study indicates that artificial colouring and flavours, as well as the preservative sodium benzoate, can make some non-ADD kids hyperactive.

When some parents heard about the new study on TV, they have avoided foods that contained colouring. Within a matter of days, they saw an improvement in their children with ADD symptoms. The children sat down nicely to eat, stood still long enough to get their hair combed and the teeth brushed, put their coats on by themselves, and had plenty of hugs and kisses for their mum and dad. Their teacher called to some parents to say how well some children did in class, and asked if a new medication was responsible for their improved behaviour.

How do you know if food additives are compromising your child’s focus? Conduct a quick test at home. For one week, avoid foods and drinks that list on their labels U.S. certified colour Red #40, Blue #2, Yellow #5 (Tartrazine), Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow), as well as sodium benzoate. Do you find your child less fidgety?

After seven days, reintroduce food additives into the child’s diet by squeezing a few drops of artificial food colouring. Observe his behaviour for two or three hours. If you don’t see a change, have him drink a second glass. Does he become more hyperactive?

What to Do

If so, wean your child off foods that are artificially dyed or flavoured, or that contain sodium benzoate. Here are some helpful tips about what foods to avoid and what to serve in their place:

Substitute 100 percent fruit juice for soft drinks, fruit drinks, and fruit punches — all of which are typically artificially coloured and flavoured. There are brands naturally flavoured and free of dyes—though they all contain sodium benzoate. Even better, buy natural sodas or fruit spritzers sold at health food stores. 

If you have time to bake, make muffins, cakes, and cookies from scratch. Cake mixes contain red and yellow collaring. Use pure extracts instead of artificial vanilla (called vanillin), almond, peppermint, lemon, orange, and coconut flavours. Pure extracts taste better, although they are more expensive. No time to bake? As you would expect, the more colourful the cereal, the more food dyes it contains. Look for breakfast cereals that are free of dyes try and look for which doesn’t contain artificial collars, flavours, or preservatives. We can say this here but the question is, I wonder is it really practical? One thing who would be reading the food labels in the supermarkets? I have my doubts.

If your kids love barbecue sauce, or if you use it to spice up every day dishes, read the label before buying a bottle. Many brands are loaded with Red #40. Does your child enjoy popsicles? Buy one of the few brands without dyes or preservatives.

Some gelatine mixes are loaded with artificial collaring and flavours. Make your own gelatine salad or desserts by dissolving plain gelatine in 100 percent fruit juice for a pretty, and nutritious, dessert.

Dyes and preservatives found beyond Food

Dyes and preservatives can also be found in personal care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes, some of which may be swallowed by young children. Again, read the labels carefully before buying them. Certain toothpaste, for instance, contains blue dye; but some are free of it. Clear, natural mouthwashes are a good substitute for those brightly coloured varieties. Again who would practically do that?

Most podiatric medicines are also artificially coloured and flavoured. Ask your doctor if there is an additive-free substitute that would work just as well. For over-the-counter medicines, choose dye-free white tablets. Be sure to adjust the dosage for your child’s age. The liquid form of the over-the-counter antihistamine is artificially coloured with red dye, but the medication also comes in clear liquid capsules.

Avoiding foods with artificial colours and preservatives has another big benefit: It will raise the nutritional value of your family’s diet, since the junkiest” foods on supermarket shelves tend to be — you guessed it — most heavily coloured and flavoured. The present day generation have no idea that the additives and colourings can have any influence on the behaviour of children. We can tell these things many number of times but, I have my doubt if they have any effect. Once they are in supermarkets, they buy anything that appears the price within reason. Your comments are welcomed perera6@hotmail.co.uk

One Response to “How does diet influence ADHD symptoms”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    Nature has provided abundance of nutrients and colors needed for human consumption and the body has evolved to process these. It will take along time for the human body to adjust and learn to process the artificial and synthetic food additives and this generation will pay for it. The multinational companies make large profits from ingredients and they fabricate test results to convince the authorities and the consumers about their side effects but the cost to human health very great and some one else have to pay, either the state or individuals for health care.

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