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Healthy Diet Adds to Treatment Success with ADHD

Diet and ADHD treatment

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and preventing nutrient deficiencies can lessen ADHD symptoms and lead the road to treatment.


Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may not always eat a healthy diet filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Unfortunately, they may be eating more convenience and snack foods which could be contributing to their symptoms.

New research suggests that children who follow the “Standard American Diet” filled with processed foods were seven times more likely to have ADHD.

What is the best diet for these children?

Professor Richard Gallagher of NYU suggests the Mediterranean diet – a diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and “good” fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids from fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna.

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The study from Spain which drives the recommendation was small – just 120 children between the ages of 6 to 16. Half had recently been diagnosed with ADHD. Those children with "medium" to "low" adherence to the Mediterranean diet were about three to seven times more likely to have ADHD, compared to those that followed the guidelines.

Even if the study doesn’t prove that the Mediterranean diet will fully work for your child, it is overall a very healthy eating plan and a big improvement over a diet full of processed foods, fatty red meats and sugar. And increasing intake of certain foods such as whole grains and dark leafy greens could prevent some mineral deficiencies that have been linked to ADHD in past studies (ie: iron, zinc).

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Journal Reference: The Mediterranean Diet and ADHD in Children and Adolescents; Pediatrics, January 2017

Photo Credit: By Bruce Tuten via Wikimedia Commons