Can A “Western Diet” Give You ADHD?

How many times have you heard to put the burger and french fries down? A study from Australia suggests there may be good reasoning for this, warning about the effects of a typical Western diet and the rise of ADHD in adolescents.  The good news is that eating a “healthy pattern diet,” more common in Asia and many Mediterranean countries, lessens the reported diagnosis of ADHD.

“We found a diet high in the Western pattern of foods was associated with more than double the risk of having an ADHD diagnosis compared with a diet low in the Western pattern, after adjusting for numerous other social and family influences,” says Dr. Wendy Oddy, a lead researcher for the Western ADHD study. After looking at the dietary patterns amongst the adolescents they then compared the diet information against whether or not the child had received an ADHD diagnosis by the age of 14 years. Their findings were that 115 adolescents had been diagnosed with ADHD, 91 boys and 24 girls.

A Western pattern is a diet with a trend towards convenience and fast foods, sweets, processed, fried and refined foods. These diets tend to be higher in total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar, and sodium. Whereas a “healthy” pattern is a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and fish. It tends to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and fiber.

The specific foods that are most associated with those who received an ADHD diagnosis are processed meats, red meat, high-fat dairy products and sweets.

The findings of the study suggested that a Western dietary pattern may indicate the adolescent has a less optimal fatty acid profile, whereas a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to hold benefits for mental health and optimal brain function.

When you incorporate more foods rich in Omega-3’s it turns out you are doing your brain a great deal of service. Not only can it help improve mood, memory loss, inflammation, and help lower your risk of chronic diseases.

In addition, she added that the Western dietary pattern does not provide enough essential micronutrients that are needed for brain function, particularly attention and concentration. Another concern is that the Western diet might contain more additives that have been linked to an increase in ADHD symptoms. There may also be a link between impulsivity, characteristic of ADHD, leading to poor food choices when hungry.

We have found that a healthy diet, along with targeted supplements with high-quality fish oil can be of tremendous help in healing the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. At Amen Clinics, we understand the pain and frustration that ADHD can cause for families and adults.  We approach each individual with a sense of compassion and respect. Our experienced clinical staff will take a full history of each patient using The 4 Circles Approach before beginning treatment with SPECT imaging or making other recommendations. Connect with us today by calling 888-288-9834 to learn more – we are waiting to help you, or schedule a visit today!

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