Restriction Elimination Diet Helps ADHD Without Medication

Photographs courtesy of

The INCA study was a placebo controlled study carried out in the Netherlands that showed a hypoallergenic diet helps treat hyperactivity, inattentiveness and oppositional defiant behavior (such as temper tantrums!) in children not on stimulant medication.

The restriction elimination diet included turkey, lamb, rice, water, salt and pepper, and many vegetables, including cauliflower and cabbage. Children were then challenged with foods, added back one by one, to see which foods caused worsening attention and behavior symptoms. Surprisingly, foods that worsened symptoms in an individual child did not correlate to high IgG immunoglobulin levels as would be expected in food allergy/intolerance. IgE allergy to food was not tested. The authors recommend that food allergy testing not be used to guide food therapy in children with ADHD, instead eliminating food that clinically caused problems in a particular child.

The details of the restriction elimination (RED) diet and the Food Journals used by families enrolled in the study are included n the appendix of the journal The Lancet.

An important detail of this study is that all children were screened to determine if they actually met criteria for ADHD, were of school age and did not take any stimulant medication.

Remember that many kids with ADHD have been found to have zinc deficiency, so it is a good idea to supplement with a multivitamin/mineral. High doses of zinc are not recommended.

Here is my WJXT Morning Show interview discussing a hypoallergenic diet and ADHD.


Dr Lidy M Pelsser MSc, Klaas Frankena PhD, Jan Toorman MD, Prof Huub F Savelkoul PhD, Prof Anthony E Dubois MD, Rob Rodrigues Pereira MD, Ton A Haagen MD, Nanda N Rommelse PhD, Prof Jan K Buitelaar MD. Effects of a restricted elimination diet on the behaviour of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (INCA study): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, Volume 377, 5 February 2011 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62227-1.

Last updated by Dr. Vee on October 22, 2012

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