ADHD: The Food Answer

March 4, 2018

Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADHD, is a national health crisis. This misunderstood condition can have reduction in symptoms by eating real food. Learn about which foods can help people with ADHD.

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JOANN: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I am JoAnn Ridout, registered and licensed dietitian and this morning Kate Crosby is joining me to co-host our show. Kate is a nutrition educator and nutrition counselor who educates clients at our North Oaks office. Good morning, Kate.

KATE:  Good morning. You know we've got a great topic today. We're going to talk about attention deficit disorder now referred to as ADHD. ADHD is really now a national health crisis. It's often very misunderstood, but most importantly it lacks adequate treatment.

JOANN: Adequate treatment, that is a very interesting way of putting it and as a parent of a child with ADHD, I understand the frustrations of this condition and also the frustration of trying to get adequate treatment and it's so individualized for each child. It's not one size fits all. Before I expound on these frustrations, let's look at the prevalence of ADHD and some possible causes.

KATE: Yeah, so the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, has found that 20% of boys and 11% of girls have been diagnosed with ADHD. Now, let's just put this into perspective. My daughter teaches kindergarten, so according to these statistics, if she has 20 young boys in her class, four of them are going to have ADHD. Again, 20% of boys are diagnosed with ADHD, but my guess is there are some boys who have ADHD but have never been diagnosed. And you know, also the findings indicate that 11% of girls are also diagnosed with ADHD, but I think the girls often slip through the cracks. So many of them are not even diagnosed, but they still struggled with their symptoms of ADHD.

JOANN: Yeah, I agree. My daughter, I'll talk more about her story, but she was one of those who kind of slipped through the cracks for awhile, but then eventually was diagnosed.  So what are some of the possible causes of ADHD? There seems to be a genetic connection, but there are many other factors. We also need to look at the mother's alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy, if that occurred, or any birth trauma that that can have an affect, or head trauma, or exposure to environmental toxins, and diets filled with processed foods. It's interesting. We always come back to that don't we? Personally, for my children, I found that eliminating those processed foods and eating the Weight & Wellness way helped them so much more than any medication we tried. And I'm going to share a little bit more of that later in the show.

KATE: Yeah, that would be so important. So some of you are probably wondering what are some of the symptoms of ADHD? One symptom that you're going to recognize: that short attention span for regular, routine everyday tasks.  So let me give you a couple examples. You know, the dirty clothes get dropped on the floor. They never quite make it to the laundry basket. That's one. Or mail that gets piled up for weeks until it's overflowing out of the basket where it's stored and bills are never paid. You know that short attention span for regular routine tasks, it's a hallmark of ADHD.

JOANN: It is, and many people with ADHD have organizational problems. Sometimes they over organize, sometimes they under organize and usually just can't keep track of it.

KATE: I mean their rooms either look like a bomb hit or they spend way too much time organizing their books. Another symptom is procrastination. That's really a huge problem for those with ADHD. They're always going to do a simple task tomorrow. The Mañana Syndrome.

JOANN: And they have very good intentions.

KATE:  Absolutely. I'll take out the garbage tomorrow. I'll finish my science project tomorrow. I remember one of my friends receiving her daughter's report card and she noticed that her daughter had an incomplete in science. She asked her daughter, what's this all about? And you know, her daughter kind of denied anything and later the mother found out that there was a science project due and the child had never started the project. Her mother had never heard anything about a science project, which obviously had been going on for months. So that's that procrastination. It's just a really common symptom of ADHD.

JOANN: It is very common. Yeah. In so many people who have ADHD also have a problem with distractability or inattentiveness. So these people you may think of as scattered or maybe they call them self a space cadet or inattentive because right in the middle of you telling them about your great new job, they say, "I love that handbag. Is that new?" And then there are people who never seem to finish a sentence, they jump from one topic to another. Their brain is just jumping all over the place. Or there are those who jumped from one activity to the next and never seem to finish anything. So that's really hard, leading to several unfinished projects or tasks. Often that leads to poor self-esteem, which is sad.

KATE: And the poor self-esteem really can't be overlooked when we talk about ADHD. That is a real, real issue. But another symptom is that poor impulse control. And as a teacher, I could see this all the time. Many people with ADHD, they often buy things that they don't need. Or they'll say things that they later regret. My husband and I have a friend who's a very successful professional who would simply go buy cars and houses. And he would not understand the consequences of his behavior. He would overeat. He would over drink. He had very poor impulse control. Now that is a really extreme example.

JOANN: That is extreme, but it can be a problem. So we can't change some of the things that cause ADHD. We talked about genetics and alcohol or drug abuse, birth trauma, head trauma, or even exposure to environmental toxins. But we can change the food we're eating. We can filter the water.

KATE: Absolutely. So 33% of children with ADHD don't ever finish high school. Now that's three times the national average. Thirty three percent of them don't finish high school. But another really interesting statistic is 52% of people with untreated ADHD often abuse alcohol and drugs. They're doing that, it's their only way to try to balance their brain chemistry.

JOANN: They're trying to self-medicate.

KATE: ADHD is really a national problem and that's why. It's often a family problem and it's a really frustrating personal problem for those with ADHD. Now currently diet change is one of the most beneficial treatments available to people with ADHD and that's what we're going to talk about today.

JOANN:  That's right. So if diet change is one of the most beneficial treatments available, then why is diet change not the first treatment of choice for people with ADHD? Is it because it takes more effort than taking a pill or a medication, or maybe it's because people still have that old belief that we only change our diets to lose weight? Whatever the reason, give the Weight & Wellness Way of eating a chance. What you eat determines how well your brain functions. So you've heard us say many times on the show, what you put into your brain is what you get out of your brain. So if you're putting junk food in that can result in a junk food brain.

KATE: Absolutely. I mean, we know that what you eat determines how well your brain functions. We see this all the time with our clients. Yet many adults with ADHD have really unhealthy eating habits. Very often they'll live on soda and pizza or chips or sugar, cookies, popcorn. Another symptom of people with ADHD is that they often forget to eat or you know, they'll skip meals. They can't stay ahead of their hunger.

JOANN: Or can't stay on a schedule.

KATE: No. So what happens in terms of food is then they grab whatever they can get their hands on when they're starving and that often is junk food. So then they binge on it.

JOANN: That's right. So I think it's so important to understand why sugar is attractive to people with ADHD.  We also need to explain a bit about how low blood sugar will set you up to continue eating that sweet, sugary junk food.

KATE: You know when you have ADHD, you're brain chemicals, those are the neurotransmitters, they're out of balance. And most people with ADHD just love sugar, whether it's from soda or cookies or cereal or popcorn, they just love it because sugar gives their brains of pop of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel energized, focused and motivated. And sorry, JoAnn, I think we need to go to break. We'll come back to this and probably reiterate that but we need to take our first break.

JOANN: OK. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Today Kate and I are discussing how food can have a positive influence or a very negative influence on ADHD symptoms. We'll be right back.

KATE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. As we mentioned earlier, 20% of boys and 11% of girls have been diagnosed with ADHD. Now there are many different types of ADHD and many causes. Because of ongoing research though it's now becoming widely accepted and known that food makes a difference with your brain chemistry. So maybe it's time to change your diet to help you manage your ADHD symptoms. Clients who make this commitment to their health and follow a clean diet, see great results and you could too.  So how about giving our office a call at 651-699-3438. Set up an appointment with a nutritionist? Wouldn't it be great to start feeling better? And I hope people do because it makes a huge, huge difference. You know, before we went to break JoAnn we were talking about how people with ADHD just love sugar and we were trying to explain why that is, you know, they often just can't wait to get their next fix of sugar. Why? Well sugar gives your brain this pop of dopamine. Dopamine is that neurotransmitter that makes you feel energized. It makes you feel focused and motivated. Well, those are the things that people with ADHD are searching for. So when you have ADHD, you're usually low in dopamine so that sugar becomes your drug for producing more dopamine. The problem is the dopamine can't get into your brain cells, especially for people with ADHD, very well. So you need another hit of sugar and another and all that sugar keeps your blood sugar on the blood sugar roller coaster. Your blood sugar gets really high and then it suddenly drops. And when that happens, it's a bad scene. You get really irritable, you can be really angry, anxious, and often you're hyperactive.

JOANN: That's right. And so when you turn to that sugar for a solution, it only helps you a very short time. That's why balancing your blood sugar is so important. In keeping your blood sugar balanced, keeps you out of that low blood sugar mode where your body is screaming for sugar. It's just biochemistry, that's strong need for sugar to help balance out your low blood sugar.

KATE:  So I guess we need to talk about how do you balance that blood sugar and we often talk about that on the radio show, but it's so important. Our old time listeners know it well, we balanced blood sugar by eating protein, by eating fat and carbs all together every few hours.  So if you haven't had your breakfast this morning, how about this idea? Why don't you cook up some eggs in butter and cook some sausage and then have a bowl of blueberries with some heavy cream and you've got your protein with your eggs and sausage. You've got your carbohydrates with those blueberries and your fat is from the cream and cooking your eggs in butter. Perfectly balanced.

JOANN: That's right. And that sounds wonderful, doesn't it? It sounds very good. So we could follow up that perfect breakfast of protein, fat and carb with a great lunch of a nice bowl of chili with a protein and vegetable carbs along with some sour cream on top to give you that healing fat.

KATE: Boy, that sounds great. But JoAnn, let's get back to talking about ADHD here. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your daughter?

JOANN: Yes. I'd like to share that story about my daughter. She noticed such positive changes when she changed her diet. And she's now 25, she was diagnosed with ADHD in the second grade and of course she was recommended to start a medication right away. So of course we did. We gave it a try. She was really struggling in school, we were hoping this would help. And during her school years she and we both struggled with the medications and the ups and downs of moods that was a very rocky road with the meds. She had trouble sleeping. Her homework time of day was so challenging. By the end of that day, she was exhausted and all the and the meds had to start wearing off late in the day so she could sleep.

KATE: Absolutely. But then she can't focus on her homework.

JOANN:  Those were hard years when we were trying to just help her, keep her motivated to continue through the process and she was exhausted. She couldn't find the energy to do homework. It was a vicious cycle and I wish I had known more back then about the power of food. I could have given her a healthy snack. At that time I didn't know. And also, she wasn't eating a lot of great foods. She would kind of pick. She had them in front of her, but she wasn't picking the right choices.

KATE: Often the medication's going to curb that appetite.

JOANN: They do curb the appetite. That's right. After high school she was about 19 or 20 and she had already given up on the medication. Clearly that wasn't working, but she started working on eating healthier. She started eating a lot more vegetables. She was influenced by a friend to go vegetarian.

KATE: So how did that work?  Was she eating a lot of rice and pasta and cheese?

JOANN: She was eating lots of carbs but was eating the vegetables. So she felt a little better because of the vegetables at first. But then, you know, because her diet was mostly carbs she was so much more anxious. She struggled even more with concentration and focus and she had stopped the meds. But after about six months of keeping her protein really limited, she noticed she was just hungry all the time, no matter what she ate. She was not satisfied. She started following the Weight & Wellness eating plan. And that was about the time I started working here. So I coached her through that process and this means she had given up processed foods for the most part and then started eating more animal protein, lots of vegetable carbs, some fruit, healthy fats.

KATE: So how did that help or not? What happened?

JOANN: It did. She noticed a huge change when she changed her food. The protein and healthy fats helped her make the brain chemicals she needed. That helped her make the dopamine, which helped out her brain, so it was a really positive change. She actually noticed being able to focus and concentrate more. She also then, of course, she was in her early twenties, she went out with friends, ate pizza, drank some beer, had chips or crackers. She noticed when she did that, she felt terrible the next day, very blah, this is her own words, very blah, lethargic, she couldn't think straight. So eventually it helped her to stay on track. She started running. She focused more on balancing her blood sugar with healthy fats, protein and veggies. She kept up with the food plan and felt more energetic.

KATE: Wow, that's really a great story.

JOANN:  It really is. It was a great turnaround.

KATE: Diet can really help your symptoms of ADHD. Does she still follow this eating plan?

JOANN: For the most part she does. She does admit with her busy work schedule, she gets off track at times and really feels the brain fog coming back, but that is a good tool. She's learned to get back on track with eating when that happens to her.

KATE: And often that's what it takes, you fall off, you feel the consequences of it and realize the value of eating healthy foods. I know I've worked with other clients with ADHD who tell a similar story. They talk about how much they benefit from taking a supplement called DHA. That's a simple omega-3 fatty acid. You know, omega-3s make up most of the fat in our brain. This DHA is found in breast milk, which tells you how important it is.  It's important for the development of the baby's brain. And we have this DHA supplement that comes from algae. It's the same algae that fish eat to produce the DHA in fish oil. It's a fantastic little supplement.

JOANN: Yeah. And my daughter found that taking that DHA supplement was very helpful and she still takes it faithfully. She takes two or three each day. DHA is such an important fat for learning and memory. The other struggle my daughter had as a result of her ADHD was sleeping. It was especially hard to sleep when she was on stimulant medications and she's been off the medications for several years now. However, if she does have trouble sleeping, she finds magnesium glycinate to be very helpful. So she also takes a magnesium glycinate on occasion for anxiety when she is having a little bit of anxiety in a crazy work day.

KATE:  Interesting. So those supplements are helpful.

JOANN:  She has found both of those very, very helpful. The magnesium glycinate before bed. And it's time for our next break. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I invite you to join Angela and myself on Saturday, March 17 for The Food Connection to ADHD Seminar. Both Angela and I have children with ADHD. We understand the benefits of a clean diet, but we also understand the struggles parents face. My daughter loved red licorice, but now it became very clear how irritating it was to her brain. So seriously, we understand the struggles and can give you some workable tips.

KATE:  We'll be right back.

KATE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. More than a hundred million people have diabetes or pre-diabetes. You know many people with pre-diabetes, don't even know they have it. So are your glucose numbers a little high, higher than they should be? Maybe your A1c is above normal. While I invite you to tune in next Saturday, March 10 to hear Cassie and Shelby discuss the food solution to pre-diabetes. Just understanding that one rice crispy bar has about 20 teaspoons of sugar in it is mind blowing. And sometimes learning that two cups of most cereals turned into about 20 teaspoons of sugar is eye opening to many. Especially when they hear that even the heart-healthy cereals turn into a lot of sugar. Most people don't realize this. So next week's podcast would be a great podcast to share with your family and friends. I hope you tune in. So while we were at break, we had a couple of callers who didn't want to stay on line and one of them was interested in learning more about DHA, the supplement we just spoke about that's made from algae, the algae that fish eat to create the DHA. So I usually suggest taking 200 milligrams of DHA. That's one little gel cap. I suggest for clients with ADHD to take it usually in the morning, I think sometimes it's a little stimulating and I would take at least three of them and maybe more so I always suggest taking these oily gel caps with food so that it doesn't upset your stomach. But I've never heard that this particular one does upset your stomach the way fish oil might. And the other thing that this caller wanted to know was why is DHA helpful? Well, remember the brain is made up of largely fat. Sixty to 70 percent of the brain is fat and this particular fat, the DHA, helps your brain absorb the dopamine, the kind of missing neurotransmitter for those with ADHD. So it's a super, super important supplement. You know, we had another caller who wanted to know about red licorice and why don't you talk about that.

JOANN: You know, one of our classes we teach, we talk about a bag of licorice being 40 teaspoons of sugar and a lot of times people go through a bag of licorice on a road trip or during a movie or something like that. But that licorice has a lot of sugar in it. Even if you just eat a few pieces, it is still pure sugar. You know, it's low fat so people think it's a healthy snack, but, but it really is not because it's pure sugar, but it also has, we're going to talk a little later about food dye and food coloring and how damaging that can be for the brain, and it has that red dye in it. So it really is not helpful for the brain at all.

 Does licorice also have gluten occasionally?

JOANN:  I think some does, yeah.

KATE:  Yeah. And sometimes gluten is an irritant for those who have ADHD. So before we went to break, you were talking about your daughter's story that DHA was helpful and the importance of magnesium glycinate, relaxing her and for sleep. But really most importantly, if you've got ADHD or maybe you're a parent of a child with ADHD, what can you do to change your diet or to help them change their diet today? What can you do? I know that probably you're thinking if you're an adult, you're pretty resistant. And if you're a child, you're probably kicking and screaming and it might be a worrisome thought as you try to examine, well, how can I possibly give up my favorite foods? How do I give up my pizza and soda? How do I stop having that glazed donut when I have my coffee? Or I can't imagine going to a movie theater without getting my popcorn and Dots. It's really, it's a lot to consider, I understand that, but here's a different take. Maybe you'd be willing to gather some information for yourself. Maybe you'd be willing to eat clean and try a clean diet for just six weeks just to determine if it's helpful to you. We're going to give you some guidelines today, but the best solution might be to take this seminar, The Food Connection to ADHD Seminar. It's being offered on Saturday, March 17 from 9:30 to 1:00 at our Maple Grove office, and both JoAnn and Angela will be teaching it. Both of them have children with ADHD and they've changed their children's nutrition, which change their children's behavior and the outcome of their children's lives. It's so important to get nutrition therapy treatment for ADHD, so you've got a better life outcome. Remember, I think I stated this earlier, that 52% of people with untreated ADHD often abuse alcohol and drugs. That's not a good outcome. We need better life outcomes for those struggling with ADHD and it all starts with what you put in your mouth.

JOANN: So I hope to see many of you at the ADHD seminar. So we're going to talk about step one, get the sugar and the processed carbs out of the diet. You know, a lot of times people say, well, I don't eat much sugar. They don't realize how much sugar is in those processed foods. So no more granola bars. They have nearly 7 teaspoons of sugar in them. Rice crispy bars, 81 grams of carbs or 20 teaspoons of sugar. No more of those big bags of licorice we talked about with the red dye 40. No more pizza with fake cheese, high fructose corn syrup pizza sauce. Unbelievable corn syrup is in pizza sauce, right? And nitrate filled, pepperoni and sausage. No more bowls of cereal such as Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms. They're full of sugar and artificial colors, but you know, as Kate said earlier, even those heart-healthy cereals actually turn into a lot of sugar. Two cups or a bowl full of most cereal turns into about 20 teaspoons of sugar

KATE:And you know, so many of these foods are foods that we had been sort of, I don't know if this is the right word, trained to eat because they were fat free or low fat, you know, which was erroneous information. We actually need fat very much and especially for our brains.

JOANN: But it was a very common way of eating for 50 years.

KATE: Unlearning that can be a challenge sometimes. So that's what we have to remove from our repertoire of foods. But now what should we eat? So I always look at good fats. Good fats are extremely beneficial for those with ADHD. Our brains are made up of 60% to 70% fat. That's the healthy fats. So it only makes sense that you include at least a tablespoon of fat with each meal. And also every snack, you've got to include fat there, too. You know, many of our listeners know I just love fat. I love butter and I love that coconut oil and olive oil. I love even some bacon fat, but your brain and your blood sugar balance need good fat to function. Your brain needs that fat as you had mentioned earlier or I had mentioned to help you absorb some of that dopamine. Your blood sugar is affected by fat because fat will help your blood sugars stay stable and not drop so drastically. So throw away the cereal. Start your day with some nitrate-free bacon, eggs cooked in butter or some organic hashbrowns. Why don't you put some really attractive strips of red pepper on the side? But I also want to tell you that if you, or maybe your child doesn't like eggs, then you know, maybe making an appointment with one of our nutritionists to help you personalize your menu that would be helpful because your brain actually needs these beneficial fats. You need to avoid those refined, man-made fats. You need to avoid the trans fats, the hydrogenated fats.

JOANN: That's right, and our brains also need protein like eggs, beef, pork, salmon, turkey and chicken. My daughter noticed protein really helped her brain. She loves nitrate-free bacon and eggs. And protein-rich foods are used by the body to make those neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, the chemicals released by our brain cells to communicate with each other.

KATE: Protein makes that dopamine?

JOANN:  Protein makes that dopamine actually work in your body. So ask yourself, how can I plan out my menu to get three to six ounces of protein four to five times a day?

KATE: That might sound like a daunting task.

JOANN:  It sounds like a lot. And figuring out that menu can be difficult, but I always tell people rather than thinking about what you can't eat, let's think about what you can eat. Try to put all those wonderful foods on your menu and then there's not really much room leftover to worry about the other stuff. So figuring out a balanced menu can be difficult. But that's our job. That's what we can help you with. If your child hates salmon, we will substitute a different protein. The beneficial fat and the protein are very critical to reduce those ADHD symptoms. So it's time for another break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We're discussing the food answer to ADHD. Have you noticed there are so many different diets being recommended? We've all heard of the paleo diet, the low carb diet, a low fat diet, the plant based diet. It can be so confusing. We at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, believe the Weight & Wellness Plan offers the best eating plan and solution for best health results. It's a balanced eating plan with real food that gives people real results. It's a plan that is based on blood sugar control to increase energy and decrease cravings.

KATE:   Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. You know the Weight & Wellness Plan is all about eating real food in balance. This plan helps with weight loss. It's going to help with your cravings. It reduces inflammation. Many people who started eating this way talk about "oh that pain in my knee is gone." It helps with pre-diabetes. The Weight and Wellness way of eating creates more energy and boy do you see that right away. This plan can manage your cholesterol, reduced the joint pain, improve your moods, your improve your digestive disorders, and so much more. It's a life plan. It's an eating plan you can follow for life that will continually benefit your health. Curious, want to learn a little bit more? Why don't you call our office at 651-699-3438. We're offering the Weight and Wellness Series starting the week of March 19 in three convenient locations. If you want to sign up call our office or read the description on our website at

JOANN: It's a great class.

KATE:  It is a wonderful class.

JOANN:  So we had a caller again while we were on break and didn't want to talk, but she had a question about cream of wheat.

KATE: Is it a healthy breakfast?

JOANN:  Is it a healthy breakfast, and we always used to think, I know I remember when I was growing up, oatmeal and cream of wheat were considered very healthy breakfast because they were warm. But actually one of the big problems with those breakfast is first of all, usually too many carbohydrates because the serving size if you’re eating only that gets larger, too large. It should be only a half a cup after it's cooked. People are always like, oh, clarifying that, but the other problem is there's no protein there. There's no protein there. So protein and fat are what we need to help balance our blood sugar. The other piece of that is that many people, especially people with ADHD, tend to be gluten sensitive.

KATE: Which wheat is.

JOANN:  And wheat is a gluten grain, but even oats can be cross-contaminated with gluten grains when they're grown in the field, so that can even be a problem.

KATE:  We often recommend not eating either wheat or barley or oats or rye. So those are two things. The other thing is that when you eat cream of wheat, you usually add sugar, so there's more  sugar. But, to your point, there's no protein, there's just no protein. Before we went to break, we were also talking about the need for fat and protein for those who have ADHD, very important for their brains. The other thing that I find when working with someone with ADHD is that they really need to sit down with our nutritionist about every three weeks to help them stay on track.

JOANN: That's right.

KATE: Otherwise things like the pastry case is going to be tempting, you know, they'll be thinking, I want to have that glazed doughnut or boy, that apple fritter, that huge giant apple fritter looks delicious. You know, changing your diet is a process. It doesn't happen overnight. It's ongoing and you need support. I'm reminded of a client of mine, one that I've had for many years, five years, and she has ADHD among other things, and this last year she decided to change her appointment frequency. She decided she was going to make a very big commitment to her health and so now she sees me every three to four weeks. And it's made a huge difference in her progress. She's been able to stay on the eating plan. She's been able to take her supplements, which has been a challenge for her in the past. But another thing that has helped her is because she has ADHD and getting too many things done is a challenge. She's decided to do phone consults with me as opposed to driving to see me, so it's one less thing she has to do and she's become much more successful and has seen great improvement in her mood and her ability to focus and stay on task.

JOANN: To stay on track. That's great. That's a great success story. And I think many of us have noticed a change in the behavior of our kids or our grandkids after they've chowed down on that Halloween candy or coming up to Easter candy. My daughter always laughs about this candy scene because she always talks about how my son would have his Halloween candy and it would be sitting in the closet for three months or so and he would pick away at it and and she said mine was gone in a week. She always said mine was gone in a week. It was clearly, and then she felt really bad about that, but you know, it was just that impulse, that impulse and knowing it's there and some people have that. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup snacks are so stressful on children's brains. Several studies suggest that kids with ADHD become hyperactive when they consume sugar. So remember just how much sugar is in that bowl of cereal. We've been talking about that today. Maybe you give your first grader a bowl of cereal before he or she gets on the bus in the morning. So an average of 20 teaspoons of sugar already in that little person before they even start school. In fact, one study reported in The Journal Pediatrics found the more sugar hyperactive children consume, the more restless and destructive they became. And another study found high sugar diets increase the lack of focus and attention in some children. And I think we've all seen that.

KATE:Yeah, I mean intellectually we know that sugar and high fructose corn syrup and additives like food coloring are all really a problem. But many of the children and adults with ADHD who we see also have problems, and we have alluded to this, digesting wheat and gluten products. These foods, the gluten products that contain wheat, barley or rye, they often affect our brains as well as our digestion. So that means the bread and the pop tarts and the cookies and the cakes and the pasta can be a problem, if you've got ADHD. And frequently dairy products are also a problem because they cause irritation to the intestinal tract but also to your brain. So that being said, how do we get behind this vote for food focused treatment plan for ADHD?

JOANN: That's right? And parents have a hard time too. They try hard but when it comes to the treats at school, they don't want their child to feel left out. So they might give in, they might have the treats, they might say it's only once or twice a week, but my response is always, if you knew those treats contain ingredients that act like a poison in these kids, then you might think differently. You may not want them to have them and you might need to send an alternative along for them. Some of our foods today are just not healthy. They can often fall into that poison category for our children's brain.

KATE: So for some kids, the gluten and the dairy, the food dye, they act like poisons in their brain and changing their diet and adopting a food focus plan takes a lot more work, a lot more commitment, and a desire to be in charge of your own health. But the results are completely worth it.

JOANN: They really are. You can see is such a wonderful turnaround. So let's look at some of the science concerning food additives. A study published in 2004 in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found the artificial food colors had an enormous effect on focus and concentration. And it looks, it looks like it's time to wrap up. Our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experienced better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating food is life changing. So thank you for listening. It's been great being on here today with you Kate.

KATE: I agree JoAnn, and we've had a great time and I hope people have been inspired by your daughter's story.

JOANN:  I hope so too.

KATE: Very moving. Changing her diet, changed her ADHD and changed her life.

JOANN: Absolutely. So all of you have a great day.

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