Food and ADD / ADHD

The below article has been written by Dr Tanith Davidson, who uses drug-free interventions and individualised diets to treat and manage ADD, ADHD and other learning and behavioural disorders. To make an appointment with Dr Tanith Davidson please contact her receptionist by visiting our contact page.


Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two of the most common behavioural disorders in children today. Symptoms may include distractibility, impulsivity, inattention, low frustration tolerance and sometimes hyperactivity. While the precise causes of ADD / ADHD are not yet fully understood, a number of genetic and environmental risk factors for the disorder are recognized. Many specialists believe that nutritional issues may also have an impact on the condition.

There have also been research suggesting that some children are also sensitive to or allergic to various foods, preservatives and food additives, which differs from person to person. Children with attention deficit are seven times more likely to have food allergies and food hypersensitivities than the general population. A recent Dutch study found that putting children diagnosed with ADHD given a diet aimed at eliminating previously undetected food hypersensitivities decreased hyperactivity in 64% of the studied children. Testing for such food reactions and using the results to assist with tayloring a diet for the patient can make a big difference in children and adults affected by ADD, ADHD and similar concentration, developmental and behavioural disorders.

Accumulated research evidence shows significant symptom improvement in children with ADD / ADHD when avoiding artificial food colorants (AFC). Of children with suspected AFC sensitivities 65-89% reacted when given artificial food colorants.

Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates have properties that may actually keep the brain from functioning normally, causing poor impulse control and difficulty in focusing. Even fruit juices are high in sugars and should be diluted. Artificial sweeteners are not the answer for replacing sugars as they can cause their own problems problems or have side-effects. Safe natural sweeteners such as Xylitol should be used instead.

Individuals with ADD/ ADHD are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine and its powerful stimulant effect. The caffeine can also increase anxiety levels which are often already raised in ADD / ADHD.

Nutritional deficiencies are also a big factor contributing to the symptoms of ADD / ADHD. Nutrient deficiencies of amino acids, omega 3 fatty acids, and very specific vitamins and mineral are very common and may vary from patient to patient. These nutrient deficiencies will always be considered when you visit an ADD / ADHD practitioner with the knowledge and experience to create a holistic treatment plan.

Toxic metals such as lead and mercury increase the risk of developing ADD / ADHD in children. These can be found in pesticides and herbicides used on fruits and vegetables (these are also injected in animals farmed for food to stimulate growth), as well as in drinking water. Certain fish (especially tuna and salmon) can contain high levels of mercury which is not safe, especially to an individual with ADD / ADHD. Foods wrapped in plastic or cellophane should be considered unsafe due to contamination with the harmful petrochemicals that are used to make these plastic products. Processed meats and other processed foods contain many hidden chemicals that can trigger impulsive actions and hyperactivity.

Taking a close look at diet is essential to a detailed assessment of ADD and ADHD with a holistic view in mind. Considering diet is just one facet of an individualised treatment program. Alternative treatments utilizing a combination of homeopathy, herbs, diet, supplements, neurotherapy assessment and chelation of heavy metals when required are most effective when prescribe by a trained, knowledgeable and experienced practitioner with access to the latest research information on these modalities as they relate to ADHD. Alternative treatments should definitely be prescribed according to each individual patient's characteristic symptoms. Possible causes, contributing factors, obstacles to cure, the individual symptoms (mental, emotional and physical), lifestyle and age of the patient all need to be considered when developing a treatment plan, once special testing has been completed.


For more information on ADD and ADHD click here.


Catering Chef
If you are struggling to adjust your child’s or your own diet according to the guidelines mentioned above or advised by a practitioner or need some help with the actual meals and / or someone to show you how to prepare them then contact Catering Chef for assistance. Click here for more information.


To make an appointment with Dr Tanith Davidson please contact her receptionist by visiting our contact page.