Young or old, here’s two more reasons to make your diet healthier.
New Research: Diet & ADHD
It has long been known that people with ADHD are deficient in a number of nutrients. So, it is surprising that there has been so little research on diet and ADHD. Well, all of that just changed very fast.
In the past few months, three studies have come out on diet and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and they all arrived at the same conclusion. Eat more fruits and vegetables!
The first looked at the DASH diet, which is high in fruits and vegetables. Eighty kids between 6 and 12 years of age were put on the DASH diet or a control diet for 12 weeks. Even in that short time, the kids on the DASH diet had significant improvement compared to the control group (Eur J Nutr
. 2021 Oct;60(7):3647-3658).
The second looked at the Mediterranean diet, which also stresses fruits and vegetables. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans and olive oil. It is low in meat, eggs, dairy, sugar and saturated fat and moderate in fish. This study looked at 360 kids between 7 and 13 years old. It found that the kids who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet were 51% less likely to develop ADHD than the kids who least closely followed it (Clin Nutr ESPEN
. 2022 02 ;47:346-350).
The third was just published. It looked at the diets of 134 kids with ADHD and asked their parents to rate their symptoms of inattention. Like the first two studies, it found that eating more fruit and vegetables was associated with significantly less inattention (Nutritional Neuroscience
The data for the third study was part of a study that also found that children with ADHD were 3 times more likely to have significant improvement in their ADHD symptoms when they took a supplement that included 36 vitamins and minerals: 54% of the supplement group responded versus 18% of the placebo group (J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry
. 2022 May;61(5):647-661).
This explosion of news on how to safely improve symptoms of ADHD is great news for the 8-10% of kids in the US and the 5% of kids in Canada with ADHD.
The Mind Diet for Your Mind
What you eat affects the health of every part of your body, including your brain. Would you change your diet if it could keep your brain young and help prevent Alzheimer’s?
One of the healthiest diets is the Mediterranean diet. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans and olive oil. It is low in meat, eggs, dairy, sugar and saturated fat and moderate in fish. It can also include moderate red wine. A review of five studies
found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s by 33% (J Alzheimers Dis
A recent study
confirmed these exciting results. It looked at the diets of 511 people whose average age was 74. They found that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, specifically, people who more closely followed the diet had significantly better verbal ability. The study found a key role for eating more green leafy vegetables and less red meat (Experimental Gerontology
Recent research in cognition has experimented with combining the Mediterranean diet with the high blood pressure beating DASH diet. Like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains and poor in saturated fat sources like meat and dairy.
The MIND diet focuses on plant based foods and lowers animal based meat and saturated fats as well as sweets. Researchers developed the diet by analyzing the Mediterranean and DASH diets and selecting the foods with the strongest evidence for preventing dementia. Once again, they found that green leafy vegetables were at the top of the list.
When the researchers tried following older adults for 4.7 years, they discovered that the MIND diet significantly slows cognitive decline. Those who most closely followed the MIND diet had brains that were the equivalent of being 7.5 years younger (Alzheimers Dement
. 2015 Sep;11(9):1015-22)!
The MIND diet recommends eating green leafy vegetables at least 6 times a week along with at least one other serving of vegetables every day. It recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains a day and at least 2 servings of berries a week, 3 of beans and 5 of nuts. Red meats (beef, pork and lamb), cheese, butter, stick margarine, sweets and fast and fried foods are limited. Fish can be eaten once a week and poultry twice. The diet emphasized olive oil and allows a little wine.
A 4.5 year study of 923 people between 58 and 98 found that people who most closely followed the MIND diet had a 53% reduced rate of Alzheimer’s (Alzheimers Dement
. 2015 Sep;11(9):1007-14). That might merit a change in menu.