A recent study published in The Lancet found that 64% of children with ADHD showed improvement in behavior and attention when placed on an elimination diet. Parents and teachers were asked to fill out standard behavior surveys before and after a two-week elimination diet.
In the study, 50 children with ADHD were placed on a diet of rice, meat, vegetables, and pears. They were compared to 50 children with ADHD who had no diet changes. After two weeks, the children were given other foods in a double-blind trial. 19 of the 30 children whose symptoms had improved suffered a relapse, as reported by parents.
The researchers concluded that their study suggests that children with ADHD may be able to improve behavior and attention without drugs by controlling their diet. Because the study was so small, the results are only preliminary.
It is worth noting that the children were tested for food sensitivities using the Ig-G method, and foods were reintroduced based the the results of the Ig-G tests. Researchers found no difference between reintroducing foods that scored high or low on the test, leading to the conclusion that the Ig-G test did not give results that were useful for determining which foods to avoid or reintroduce. Other studies have also found that Ig-G tests are not accurate predictors of actual food allergies or sensitivities.
Other researchers believe that diet may play a role in ADHD. A notable alternative treatment is the Feingold diet, which is a salicyate- and additive-free diet. Some studies have shown that children with food sensitivities or food allergies may exhibit hyperactivity as a symptom, and that removing trigger foods from a child's diet can improve behavior as well as health.
Elimination diets should always be supervised by a medical professional. Long-term restriction of foods can lead to malnutrition in children.