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ADHD Caused by Digestive Disorder?

Celiac.com 05/08/2009 - In 1996-1997, in an effort to test a hypothesis by scientist Karl Ludvig Reichelt, Norwegian researchers began a long-term study of 23 children aged 4 to 11 from the southwestern Norwegian town of Stavanger. All of the children suffered from hyperactive disorders including ADHD. All children showed abnormal levels of peptides in their urine.

Dr. Reichelt believed that metabolic disorders impair the effective breakdown of certain proteins in children and thereby cause mental problem, such as hyperactive disorders. Related international research has established links between protein disorder and the conditions of autism and schizophrenia.  A growing number of studies also hint that some cases of ADHD are tied to digestive disorders. Data from this Norwegian study supports the idea that ADHD may also arise from a digestive disorder.

This study indicates that consumption of certain foods, such as milk and gluten, may contribute to ADHD in children who lack the enzyme that breaks down proteins like casein, a component of milk--which also helps in the formation of cheese.

Interestingly, when children who lack this enzyme eat foods that require the enzyme to properly digest proteins like casein, their brains experience an opium-like effect, which might explain at least some of the spaciness and impaired attention these kids exhibit.

According to Reichalt's theory, hyperactivity can be controlled by reducing the intake of foods that require the presence of this missing enzyme to properly break down the offending proteins.

In the study, 22 of the 23 children were placed on strict milk-free and/or gluten-free diets. They were taken off milk products and other foods containing casein. All exhibited a rapid improvement in general well-being, including improved mental health and general behavior, improved attention-span and better learning abilities. After a year, 22 of the 23 families reported clear improvements in their child's behaviour and attention-span.

When the kids were taken off their diets, their symptoms returned nearly immediately. Before changing their diets, most of the children were taking medications, like Ritalin, to treat their symptoms. After their diets were established, their medications were discontinued.

By 2004, a number of the children had ceased their diets for various reasons and some have returned to medication. Still, six children remained milk-free and several had also cut out gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and to some extent oats.

Due in part to the small sample size, and limited amounts of data from comprehensive studies on the number of ADHD children who suffer from peptide-breakdown abnormalities, the study has been met with a certain resistance among the medical community, where most doctors still believe that the evidence best supports medications like Ritalin as the best way to treat the ADHD.

Still, the results carry weight among the parents, and among the Norwegians, as hundreds of other Norwegian children with ADHD, mainly in and around Stavanger, have in recent years been put on milk-free and/or gluten-free diets to help control ADHD and related disorders.

Agence France Presse 2008.
Yahoo! News 2008

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2 Responses:

 
Becky
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said this on
26 Dec 2012 1:14:32 PM PST
Ever since my now 9 year old son started preschool, I have repeatedly been told that I should have him tested for ADHD. I thought that was pretty young to just jump the gun and conclude that he has a behavioral disorder, so I waited to see how he was after he matured a little bit. His behavioral issued stayed and when it started to impede with his academics, I decided that I should consider that he may in fact have ADHD. That was about two years ago. Around that same time, however, I read an article about digestive issues and behavioral/autistic problems. My son has had years of digestive problems that we have repeatedly seen the doctor for. Back then, when I first inquired about a gluten intolerance, I was succinctly dismissed and my son's digestive problems, I was told, were due to his nervousness. Funny, I told them, that he didn't seem nervous to me. Since then, he was diagnosed with ADHD and about a month ago, I made the decision to put him on Concerta. Not two weeks ago, fed up with the run around about the simple blood test to check for a gluten allergy, I put him on a gluten and dairy-free diet and stopped his meds. He was pretty sick for about five days, but after that he's been a normal kid without the behavioral issues and the digestive trouble that has plagued him for years. Maybe I haven't given enough time to see for sure, but the change has been wonderful, if not miraculous.

 
Nic
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said this on
07 Jan 2013 9:55:29 AM PST
Hi, I have a 12 year old and people have also always told me to take him to doctors for his behavior issues. I honestly just thought he would grow out of it. Anyway, last year he was diagnosed with ADHD. He has also suffered from chronic acid reflux for about 4 years now. I will definitely try this diet! Thank you so much for sharing your story!




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