Diagnoses for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, are on the rise. The symptoms of ADHD have long been a problem in a number of children, though the classification of ADHD as a disorder is relatively recent. The statistics show a large discrepancy in the number of children diagnosed with ADHD, ranging anywhere from five to nine percent. Some experts even feel that the number could be significantly higher, with upwards of one in ten children exhibiting the signs and symptoms of ADHD. Part of the increase in rates of ADHD is due to a greater awareness of the problem, leading to more diagnoses. But you also have to wonder whether or not certain factors are causing the problem to become more prevalent, particularly in younger children.
What are the Causes of ADHD?
Experts do not doubt that ADHD is at least partially biologically driven. The evidence clearly indicates that children with a family history of ADHD are more likely to develop the condition themselves. While biological factors do certainly play a large role in the child’s chance of developing it, it is far from being the only predictor of the disorder. Doctors and parents alike admit that environmental and lifestyle factors can certainly play an important role in the development and severity of the condition. For example, diet is considered to have a major role in ADHD and many other neurological conditions. Current research is showing that gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, could in fact contribute to it.
The Connection Between ADHD and Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a digestive problem caused by the body’s complete intolerance of gluten. If people with celiac eat gluten, their body produces an immune reaction that creates toxins in the body, making the person physically ill and causing more serious damage to the digestive system, which can ultimately lead to malnutrition. People with celiac have to follow strict gluten free diets, avoiding breads, pastas, cakes, cookies, and other foods containing gluten. People with celiac disease also have a higher risk of suffering from ADHD, a connection that was made recently. Experts have now gone as far as to prove that problems with gluten could be at the root of these two conditions.
Treating Gluten Intolerance and ADHD with a Gluten Free Diet
Researchers have noticed that children with ADHD and celiac disease would see both conditions improve when following a gluten free diet. These children were prescribed a gluten free diet due to their celiac disease, but parents frequently found that the new diet improved their children’s ADHD symptoms as well. The children reportedly experienced improved behavior than before the treatment. The exact cause of these findings is not yet clear, but experts are developing a strong interest in the correlation between a gluten free diet and the prevalence of ADHD symptoms. Some speculate that gluten problems could be causing inflammation in the brain, which could produce the irritation, hyperactivity, and attention deficit systems of ADHD.
Trying a Gluten Free Diet
There is no harm to having your child try a gluten free diet to see if their condition improves. The only downsides are that a gluten free diet can be more work to prepare, and will make it more difficult for your child to eat school lunches and other foods not prepared at home. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and other types of grains. Many products are even made with gluten as a component, such as ice cream, condiments, and even many prescription medications. If you are willing to put forth the effort to prepare food using gluten-free alternatives, a gluten free diet may be able to reduce your child’s symptoms of ADHD.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.
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