A gluten-free diet may help ADHD

Many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) do not respond well to most grains, especially wheat.

Many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) do not respond well to most grains, especially wheat. This could be because they have advanced celiac disease, which impacts an average of one out of every 133 people in the U.S. (However, studies have found that this number may be as high as 1 in 33 in at-risk populations.)

People with gluten sensitivity, which may comprise more than 10 percent of the U.S. population, experience many of the same symptoms as celiac disease, including headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, gas and more. Many sufferers may be unaware that the culprit triggering these symptoms is wheat and/or other gluten-containing grains.

It is also very possible to have celiac disease and not be aware of it. Researchers have stated that, “In many cases, the disease may be clinically silent despite manifesting small-bowel mucosal lesions.”

The psychological and behavioral symptoms of ADHD are now seen as overlapping with those of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, so it is recommended that celiac disease be included in the ADHD symptom checklist. This suggestion was prompted by a new study, which discovered that people diagnosed with ADHD, who also tested positive for celiac disease, improved significantly after following a gluten-free diet for at least six months.

The researchers noted, “After initiation of the gluten-free diet, patients or their parents reported a significant improvement in their behavior and functioning, compared with the period before celiac diagnosis and treatment.”

It may sound strange that eating a grain that wreaks havoc on your gut could manifest as symptoms related to your brain. However, grains are inherently pro-inflammatory and have the potential to worsen any condition of chronic inflammation — not just in your gut, but elsewhere in your body.

The importance of reducing inflammation when dealing with mental health issues is well-known. It is common that people experience a wide variety of mental health and emotional improvements upon eliminating gluten from their diets. One of the most important categories of foods to avoid are those gluten-containing grains that include gliadin molecules, such as wheat.


Source:, November 2, 2011.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2012.


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