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ADHD and Feingold Diet

Read more about Feingold Diet.

Effect of Feingold Diet on ADHD

The Feingold Diet, created in the 1960s, came about after a pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin Feingold, discovered that many of his patients with ADHD exhibited more symptoms after ingesting foods containing high concentrations of salicylates (a food preservative used in toothpaste, among other things).

Twenty-five years ago the National Institute of Mental Health convened a consensus panel which concluded that 8 to 10 percent of children with ADHD are sensitive to salicylates and benefit from the Feingold diet.

Research Evidence on Feingold Diet

The Hospital for Sick Children in London conducted a study and it was published in Lancet, a leading British journal. The study demonstrated that most children with severe ADHD were salicylate sensitive, but that 90 percent of these children have additional food intolerances. So while many may benefit from the Feingold diet, the majority of children with ADHD they have more than this one food sensitivity and may need to eliminate other food substances as well. The British researchers performed exhaustive dietary trials, closely supervised by hospital dietitians. After determining that 80 percent of the children had apparent food sensitivities that were causing their hyperactivity, they then performed double blind, placebo controlled challenges with the offending foods. Using this most rigorous clinical research method, the investigators confirmed the presence of food intolerance in the majority of children with ADHD.

The foods to which children with ADHD most commonly had allergic reactions were cow's milk (which included milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream), corn (an additive in many prepared foods), wheat, soy and eggs. Altogether, 48 different foods were incriminated as triggers for hyperactivity.

How to Use Feingold Diet

In the Feingold Diet, the following substances are eliminated completely the person's diet.

  • Artificial (synthetic) coloring
  • Artificial (synthetic) flavoring
  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet, an artificial sweetener)
  • Artificial (synthetic) preservatives BHA, BHT, TBHQ
  • Saliclics