Mediterranean Diet and ADHD 

ADHD is rising at an alarming rate.  US leads the world in medication sales for ADHD.  Here are some sobering statistics from the CDC:

Children ages 4-17:

  • Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to parent report from 2011-12.
  • The percent of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 11.0% in 2011-12. 
  • The percent of children with an ADHD diagnosis varie by state, from a low of 5.6% in Nevada to a high of 18.7% in Kentucky.

Children ages 2-5:

  • Approximately 237,000 children aged 2 to 5 years in the United States had an ADHD diagnosis, according to parent report from 2011-12. 
  • The number of young children with ADHD increased by more than 50% from the 2007-2008 survey. 

Before we look at medications, what can we do daily to lessen the risk of developing ADHD and to minimize symptoms?  Today we will specifically focus on The Mediterranean Diet.  Many of you may have heard about it, but do you know what it really is?  Let's take a look.  

Take the quiz to better understand how closely your family aligns with this famous diet plan.

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET

Give yourself 1 point for every Yes, 0 points for every No:

🥕I eat at least 2 cups of vegetables every day. 

🍒I eat 2 or more pieces of fruit a day.

 🌾I eat 2 or more servings of whole grains a day. 

🐬I eat fish 2 or more times a week. 

🌱I eat beans or legumes 4 or more times a week. 

🌰I eat nuts or seeds almost every day. .

💦 I use olive oil as my main source of fat. .

🍷I drink a glass of red wine (but no more than 2) most days. (Not to the children please).

🐄I eat red meat no more than once a week.

SCORING: 

💜If you scored 8 or 9, your diet is highly consistent with the ideal MD

💚If you scored 6-7, your diet has a lot in common with the ideal MD

💛If you scored 4-5, your diet includes some elements of the ideal MD

❤️If you scored 0-3, your diet is not consistent with the ideal MD.

Now that you have taken the quiz, you may wonder: What does this have to do with ADHD?

Journal of Pediatrics 2017

 

In this study they authors specifically looked at the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and ADHD. Could adhering to the Mediterranean diet be associated with a decreased risk of an ADHD diagnosis?

"The study was conducted in Spain, which is experiencing a rising rate of ADHD diagnoses (5 to 8 percent of children), along with a trend of moving away from their traditional Mediterranean diet. The Spanish population is increasing their consumption of processed foods and refined sugars, while decreasing vegetable and fruit intakes. " - Psychology Today

Conclusion of the Study:

  • Those consuming less fruits, less vegetables, and less fish showed an increase in ADHD symptoms.
  • Skipping breakfast was also associated with a rise in ADHD symptoms.
  • Eating at fast-food restaurants correlated strongly with ADHD.
  • The more sugar and more soft drinks noted in the diet, the higher the rates of  ADHD in those children,

Conversely,

Those consuming a diet high in fatty fish, fruits and vegetables had significantly lower rates of ADHD symptoms.

One more study illustrating that we can prevent chronic disease with what we choose to put on our plates!  

Citations:

  1. Journal of Pediatrics
  2. Psychology Today

In Good Health, Ana-Maria