Food Sensitivity and Allergy

My clinical experience is that many ADHD children—particularly those 10-years-old and younger—have a food sensitivity or food allergy that is causing an imbalance in brain chemistry, thereby imbalancing behavior.

In a large percentage of these cases, the sensitivity or allergy is to casein, a protein in dairy. As I explain in Finally Focused, there finally-focused-coverare two telltale signs of this problem: your ADHD child has a craving for cheese or any kind of dairy food, practically pushing you out of the way to get the food; and your ADHD child becomes irritable when he/she doesn’t eat cheese or dairy foods, and behaves better when he does.

Fortunately, supplementing the diet with an enzyme that breaks down casein is often remarkable effectively in relieving symptoms. (The name of the enzyme: dipepti­dyl peptidase IV, or DPP‑IV.)

The authors of the article in Psychiatric Times acknowledge the role of food sensitivity and food allergy in causing symptoms in some ADHD children—but they don’t include DPP-IV among their treatments. That’s a cutting-edge approach only a few clinicians know about and use.

For food allergy, they also recommend “elimination and restriction diets” that require a child to eat only a few foods that typically don’t cause allergy, slowly adding back foods one by one to see if any of them worsen symptoms—a diet I’ve found few children are able to follow. A better strategy: Ask your doctor to order a blood test—the IgG Food Allergy Test—to find out if your ADHD child has an allergy to one or more foods. I order this test for all of my ADHD patients 12 and younger—and if an food allergy is revealed, just that food is eliminated. Much easier!

TAKEAWAY: it’s great that a growing number of physicians are learning about and using an integrative approach to treat ADHD. And it’s my goal—using this website and blog; my webinars and seminars for professionals and the public; and the publication of Finally Focused next May—to bring integrative treatment into the mainstream. Millions of people with ADHD will be so much the better for it.

For focus and full potential,

James Greenblatt, MD

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