Can foods help children with ADD, ADHD?

Doctor advises children to eliminate gluten, soy, dairy

By Lauren Freeman - Anchor

HOUSTON - To medicate or not to medicate? That's the decision so many families face who have children with ADD or ADHD. Some studies have shown our Western diet in America can have an impact on behavior.

After being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, Blake, 5, started taking Ritalin but soon started having migraines from the stimulant medication. So his mom, Tonya, began researching alternatives and found Dr. Arturo Volpe in the Village.
After seeing Blake, he advised eliminating gluten, soy and dairy. After doing that for about three to four weeks, his family could see a difference.

His mom says Blake's body wasn't able to break down those foods properly which affected his brain. She now questions why their doctor automatically put Blake on medication.

Tonya Covington says, "It's amazing because you think why didn't I think of this or know this before and why doesn't everyone know this and why don't they try this first?"

Volpe is a chiropractor and nutritionist but over the years, solving health problems naturally became his passion. He doesn't advise his patients on whether to medicate their children, he just looks at their diet and their health history to help. Volpe says some children are very sensitive to certain foods.

Volpe warns, "Children today have a very poor diet -- a lot of sugar, a lot of processed foods, a lot of what we would call empty calories."

He says don't expect food to reproduce that laser like focus that Adderral, Ritalin or Concerta brings.

Volpe worries the drugs are just a band-aid -- they never correct the problem, just the symptoms.

Kristi King, a clinical nutritionist with Texas Children's Hospital, says diet is vitally important for all kids' behavior. She says adequately studying children's nutrition as it relates to attention deficit disorders can be difficult.

She says, "It's hard to control that child going to the kitchen and eating something they aren't supposed to."

In the end, she says putting ADD and ADHD patients on a healthy diet is a win-win solution whether they are on the medications or not.

One thing Volpe and King agree on is Omega 3 fatty acids. These are the building blocks of the brain. They are naturally found in flax seeds, walnuts and salmon. If you can't get your child to eat these foods, there are supplements that children can take.

Copyright 2012 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.