Can The Mediterranean Diet Prevent ADHD?
The Mediterranean diet is ranked among the healthiest diets in the world by multiple sources. It offers a diet rich in natural ingredients, free of artificial foods, with a great balance of macro and micronutrients, and overall quality eating. It has been proven to promote weight loss, improve cardiovascular health, and decrease disease risk.
Here's a new benefit to adding to the list: it may be able to reduce ADHD. A team of researchers at the Universidad de Barcelona in Spain examined the relationship between ADHD and diet habits. They found that there is a clear link between diet and the disorder, though exactly how remains unclear. It's possible that ADHD could be related to poor diet choices (impulsive eating habits lead to impulsive actions), or it could be that the ADHD is the cause of the bad eating habits (ADHD patients eat excess sugar and fat to balance out their emotions and impulsiveness). Either way, it's clear that poor eating habits and ADHD are definitely linked. Kids with ADHD tend to struggle with heavy eating, and the lack of nutrients causes the symptoms of their disorder to worsen.
Enter the Mediterranean diet: a diet rich in nuts, fruits, veggies, healthy fats, proteins, and plenty of whole grains and balanced carbs. The Mediterranean diet is a highly nutritious one, and it offers children a diet that is fairly simple to follow with plenty of variety. Following this diet could provide the nutrients (zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, etc.) required for proper cognitive and psychological growth.
Let's be clear: the study didn't prove that the Mediterranean diet is going to cure or prevent ADHD. It simply stated that a lack of essential nutrients and poor eating habits will increase the chances of developing ADHD. The Mediterranean diet just happens to be a diet that can improve eating habits and provide the nutrients your child needs for a healthy body, muscles, and (most important of all) brain.
The Mediterranean diet isn't a cure-all that will solve your child's ADHD problems, but it will provide the vital nutrients they need. Plus, following the diet will reduce the risk of excessive sugar and fat consumption, which will, in turn, reduce impulsiveness and poor behavior control. It's one more way you can help to balance out your child's ADHD symptoms and promote a healthy life. Why not give it a try?
1. Alejandra Ríos-Hernández, José A. Alda, Andreu Farran-Codina, Estrella Ferreira-García, Maria Izquierdo-Pulido. "The Mediterranean Diet and ADHD in Children and Adolescents." Pediatrics, 2017; 139 (2): e20162027 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-2027.