Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a condition of the brain which has become more and more common among the children of the general population. In most cases, children who demonstrate hyper-focus, inattentiveness or hyper-attentive and impulsive are often diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, doctors caution that to some degree these are common characteristics of children and they should not be diagnosed with ADHD unless this seriously interferes with their lifestyle and they are less than six years old.
In recent days, researches as well as anecdotal accounts are showing that there is probably a close relation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and gluten intolerance and celiac disease. If your child is suffering from ADHD, you need to consider the question of gluten carefully.
How ADHD and celiac disease are related?
The link between ADHD and celiac disease can be described as under:
- The stomach and the brain are actually closely related. The gut brain connection is well recognized in medicine. So, if your child is gluten intolerant, eating gluten will not only irritate the digestive tract, but will also lead to inflammation of certain parts of the brain. If he is disposed towards ADHD, it will then flare up with the ingestion of gluten.
- When the child develops in the womb, a part of the same system transforms into the central nervous system while the other part turns into the enteric nervous system. The vagus nerve connects the gut with the brain. So, what you feel in your gut actually comes from your brain. If you feel nervous, you get butterflies in your stomach.
- The gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) is a condition which seeks to explore the link between ADHD and celiac disease.
- Several clinical studies have been conducted in order to establish a firm connection between ADHD and celiac disease. In one study, 67 people with celiac disease were tested for ADHD. The age ranged from seven to forty two. It was seen that 15% of these people with ADHD also suffered from celiac disease. This is a far higher proportion than normal. The normal incidence of celiac disease among the general population is only 1%.
- In another study, 132 patients who have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease were tested for ADHD. It was concluded that proportion of people with ADHD is much higher than general population in this group. These studies definitely show that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is related to celiac disease.
- Though the mechanism is not well understood, it is thought that grains are basically pro-inflammatory. This means if you are biologically predisposed towards inflammation in any part of your body including the brain and you are allergic to grains, ingesting gluten rich foods will cause the inflammation to flare up. ADHD is the result. Your child is at a greater risk from ADHD if this disease is known to exist among your close family.
More and more research is coming to light where it is seen that people with celiac disease often develop ADHD, especially if there is the incidence of the disease in the family.
Gluten free diet to control ADHD
It has been reported many times that dietary changes have a positive impact in controlling the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Most doctors recommend cutting out food rich in sugar and fructose from the diet to see significant behavioral changes. But, it is now thought that cutting all gluten from the diet can have a remarkable impact in treating ADHD in children.
Here are some important facts that you should bear in mind when you go on gluten free diet to control ADHD:
- If anybody in your family has celiac disease and your child is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, then you can try a gluten free diet. You need to remember that you will have to enforce a strict gluten free diet for at least a month. Only cutting back on gluten is not enough. If the ADHD in your child is indeed linked to gluten intolerance, then you will be able to see positive results within the month. However, it requires at least six months in order to significantly reducing the symptoms of ADHD.
- When you go for a gluten free diet, keep the following in mind:
- Eliminate all wheat products from the meal including rye, barley, oats, pasta, bread, candy, soya products etc.
- All processed and packaged foods should be avoided.
- No preserved beverages are allowed except water.
- You should read all the labels of foods and drinks to make sure that no gluten is present anywhere.
- It is a fact that cross-contamination with gluten rich foods do occur. So, you need to be careful about that.
If you see any improvement in the condition, you will know that the ADHD was indeed linked to celiac disease and a gluten free diet can provide satisfactory solution to both problems. Check out Little Soya’s gluten free soy sauce.