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The Feingold Diet and Other Alternative Treatments for ADHD

Do you wonder if there's something besides medicine or behavior therapy you can do to help your child with ADHD? Today, Sara Ritchie will shed on such alternative treatment options as elimination diets, chiropractor therapy, memory trainings and some others.

Can changing your diet be helpful to treat ADHD?

That's a really good question and something that researchers are in the midst of testing. It's a pretty controversial topic.

A lot of studies have not shown that it helps, but there have been some smaller cohort studies that have shown that potentially there are some foods that you can avoid to help your symptoms.

And some of the foods that have been studied to avoid would be:

  • Food additives
  • Potential food allergens
  • Saturated fatty acids
  • Excessive iron
  • Excessive zinc
  • Refined sugar intake.

As I said, on a clinically significant level, that kind of things have not been shown to help. But as I've mentioned, the one that looks the most promising would be avoiding food additives like artificial colors, excess sugar. Those are potentials for future research.

And what some experts have recommended is that you can trial an elimination, so try eliminating food additives and you can do it for about five weeks, definitely under the supervision of your provider and/or a dietician, to see if that helps. And if it does, you continue with the diet, if it doesn't you stop and resume your normal life and there are other therapies to try.

What is the Feingold diet? And how can it help with the ADHD symptoms?

The Feingold diet is a great example of one of the elimination diets. It was created by a man Benjamin Feingold - pediatric allergist from California. The diet arose in the 1970s and it was an elimination diet of food allergens. Specifically, he looked at salicylates, artificial food colorings, artificial flavors and different preservatives such as BHA, BHT. Again, it wasn't proven to have a clinically significant change of the symptoms, but there are some smaller groups of people who have found it to be beneficial.

Can chiropractic help with ADHD?

Chiropractor therapy is a part of CAM, or complementary and alternative medicine, and a lot of those therapies are used very commonly by patients. There's not a lot of literature that supports that being a clinically significant addition to your therapy, but in real life, people feel like it can be helpful, just as long as you're finding, especially in a pediatric patient, a chiropractor who specializes in pediatric care and can offer safe interventions.

Neurofeedback and working memory trainings

A lot of these therapies are not proven by clinical research.

There are some things like practicing mindfulness, which is basically similar to meditation. You're practicing being aware of your thoughts, your emotions or your experiences to help yourself self regulate your symptoms.

On the final note

There are some other therapies like trigeminal nerve stimulation because there are nerves in the brain that thought to be linked to ADHD symptoms.

All of these are therapies that people have tried and some find very helpful, and certainly, if you find something helpful then that's wonderful. We just don't have clinical research to support them.

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