Diet and Dietary Supplements
Although there have been many "ADHD diets" touted, the science behind them is a bit murky. However, there are certain groups of people who more clearly benefit from dietary modifications.
In one study, patients diagnosed with Celiac disease (a specific type of gluten intolerance) who went on a gluten free diet saw a relief in their ADHD symptoms. This does not mean that ADHD patients without Celiac disease would necessarily benefit from such a diet, however.
A meta-analysis (a way of grouping together many separate research studies to find a unified answer) examining the effect of removing artificial food colorings from children's diets suggested that children with ADHD might improve with such an intervention. Although the authors cautioned that further study is warranted before strong recommendations can be made, I have had some patients who swear by this with their children. Because of the difficulty in maintaining such a diet, parents would have to decide for themselves whether they wanted to make the effort on the basis of inconclusive evidence. Furthermore, these were studies of children and we don't know whether the results would apply to adults as well. For a more thorough examination of the issue, I suggest the review, Diet, ADHD, and Behavior, published by the non-profit group Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The are a number of supplements that claim to benefit ADHD symptoms. Although I have spoken with individuals who have found them helpful, to my knowledge there has been little quality research into their actual efficacy. Some of these have been removed from the market because of safety concerns.
last updated 12/2/17