ADHD/ADD/ASD/Dyslexia/OCD…A Brief Diet Overview

 Do you have a child with a neurological disorder? Or are you a concerned parent and interested in what to feed your child who could possibly get diagnosed?  With almost 1 in 4 kids getting diagnosed with some sort of developmental delay (ADHD, ADD, Autism, Dyslexia, OCD, etc.), knowing all the facts is imperative. This blog post is a brief overview of foods to avoid if you have a child with any neurological symptoms.

Many kids have food sensitivities and intolerances, which should not be confused with food allergies (hives, difficulty breathing, etc.).  Over 85% of kids with a neurological disorder have some sort of food sensitivity.  What does this mean? After eating these foods, a child’s immune system will have an inflammatory response that causes mental and behavioral symptoms.  About 75% of our immune system lies in our gut, and when we eat foods that irritate our gut lining we eventually get leaky-gut.

The term leaky gut syndrome, or leaky gut, identifies an increasingly prevalent health disorder in which the lining of the small intestine is more permeable than it should be and becomes subject to inflammation by various irritants. The abnormally large spaces allow entry of toxic material into the bloodstream that would, in healthier circumstances, be repelled and eliminated. The gut becomes “leaky” in the sense that bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and their toxins, and undigested foods such as proteins normally not absorbed into the bloodstream in the healthy state pass through a damaged, hyperpermeable, or leaky gut. When these foreign substances enter the bloodstream, the immune system goes into reaction mode and begins creating antibodies against its own tissues. Chronic overstimulation of the immune system leads to chronic inflammation and disease.

The connection between leaky gut syndrome and these neurological conditions is the antibodies created by the body in response to the toxic substances and undigested fats and proteins that leak into the bloodstream and attach themselves to various tissues throughout the body (i.e. brain and nervous system), create an allergic response, trigger the destruction of tissues and organs, and create inflammation. As toxicity increases, autoantibodies are created, and the destruction and inflammation become chronic.


Gluten is the protein found in many grains, including wheat, barley and rye. Although humans have been eating grains for thousands of years, it was not until the past 50 or so that the human digestive tract can no longer process it.  The hybridization of wheat has caused the protein to change so much that we cannot break it down and digest it.  This eventually leads to leaky-gut and triggers the immune system to activate and cause havoc on brain and gut.

A study published in The Primary Care Companion – Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found a significant improvement in behavior and functioning after the initiation of a gluten-free diet.


Casein and/or lactose in cow and goat milk may be problematic for your child. A 10-week study found that when conventional dairy was removed from the diet of hyperactive preschool boys, symptoms of ADD/ADHD improved.  Most conventional cow’s milk contains A1 casein that can trigger a similar reaction as gluten and, therefore, should be eliminated from the diets of both adults and children.

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

In a study to be published in the Academy of Pediatrics, youths that drink sweetened beverages are 66 percent more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention.  But replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners is not the solution. Artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame K, aspartame, benzene, cyclamates, saccharin and sucralose are associated with a wide array of serious side effects. These include cancer, obesity, increased heart rate, infertility, dizziness, headaches and memory loss.

Artificial Food Colors and Dyes

AFCs are found in nearly every processed food, including carbonated sodas, convenience foods, deli meats and cheeses, cereals, chewable vitamins, and toothpaste.  Consumption of AFCs has increased five-fold since 1950, showing average consumption of AFCs at 68 milligrams. Studies that have tested 50 milligrams or more have shown a link between AFCs and behavioral reactions, including hyperactivity in children.


Glyphosate is the world’s most widely produced herbicide and is the primary toxic chemical in Roundup, as well as in many other herbicides.  Exposure to glyphosate has been linked to autism, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, cancer, depression, fatigue, gluten sensitivity, inflammation, and Parkinson’s.  The causes for these disorders have been linked to glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria (killing beneficial bacteria), metal chelation (accumulating heavy metals in bones, brain, and other organs), and P450 (liver enzyme) inactivation.

Other Foods to Consider

Hydrogenated Oils
Heavy Metals
Bakers and Brewers Yeast

I hope you found this brief overview helpful!  Of course diet is just one part of the puzzle and there is so much more to evaluate. Children are the future and supporting them to have the best health possible is a true passion of mine.  Please contact me if you have any questions or are interested in getting care at our clinic.