Clarification of Elimination Diet Help and Allergies

Elimination Diet Help For ADHD May Not be  Allergy Related

I recently received a comment with questions about food allergies and ADHD and the role of elimination diets in improving symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Many experts in the U.S. ADHD community insist that changes in your diet will not help ADHD but the results of the INCA study, completed in England last year, are causing these same experts to take a closer look at diet and ADHD symptoms.

There are now many pediatricians in the US that are taking the findings of the INCA study very seriously and considering their patient's diets when evaluating ADHD. The questions that the INCA results pose have more to do with the biological processes that occur when people eliminate certain foods from their diets than they have to do with food "allergies".

The INCA study was huge and, in fact, found improvements in the kids on the elimination diet but,and this is hugely important, the INCA study also found that these improvements did not appear to be related to allergy markers in the blood such as IGE blood levels. It is and was unclear to the researchers if the improvements in symptoms were related to calorie restrictions, food sensitivities not measured by standard blood tests such as IGG or IGE or to some other unknown factor

This study is considered, by most everyone in the ADHD scientific community, to have been performed using the most rigorous science available and the methods are not in dispute, neither are the findings of this study.  There are, however, questions regarding WHY there were improvements. 

The improvements may not have been related to food allergies or even food sensitivities. No one can say for sure. Though the food sensitivity" argument makes the most sense to me if you consider a "sensitivity" to be something that somehow triggers a scertain symptom or groups of symptoms.

Elimination diets are notoriously hard to do. I have tried and failed with my own family. The best that I can do is try to eliminate as much junk food from their diets as possible. In my own home I have found that when my kids eat a lot of processed foods, they seem to be more hyperactive, jittery and impulsive. The symptoms are infinitely worse for my Combined type son than for my Inattentive son.

From my observation it seems to be the artificial colors that cause the most obvious symptoms in him. I think that eventually we will find that some people have foods or food additives that trigger ADHD behaviors when they are exposed to them. This is hard to tease out in population studies but I believe that the findings of the INCA study (if you use the search bar on the website you can find the abstract of this study or just Google "INCA and ADHD) has caused many researchers in the ADHD scientific community to take a closer look at the diet/ADHD connection.


  1. I guess it is worth a try then to try an elimination diet, but you are right, it would be nearly impossible to 100% eliminate something from your diet. For instance, I have a natural sleep aid that is mainly made up natural ingredients (plants, herbs) so it is green, but the company decided it should be yellow, so they use 4 different artificial colors. That is ridiculous. I don't care if my sleep aid is green or yellow. The same with these fiber pills I have. I wish the public would demand healthier ingredients in our food, because the only way they will get them is if the consumers who pay their salaries
    say no to these unnecessary and harmful ingredients. And if the damn FDA would do something about this that would help. The removal of artificial colors would be a great start because they do not enhance the taste and they are harmful. I'll eat brown Dorritos, I'm fine with that.


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