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Hyperactivity Print

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.

Factors that may give rise to the development of ADHD include genetics, the environment or problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development. In terms of diet, certain additives have been proposed, but there is no conclusive research as yet.

Colourings such as tartrazine and preservatives such as benzoic acid are suspected of having negative effects on children with ADHD. Studies indicate that children with learning and behavioural issues improve once additives are eliminated from their diet and by restricting consumption of orange squash, chocolate and processed meats. Foods containing caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks etc.) are also suspected of having adverse effects. On the other hand, studies suggest that eating oily fish or taking fish oil supplements help alleviate attention deficit disorder.

Refined Carbohydrates
Thiamine deficiency affects the central nervous system and thus behaviour. Thiamine is needed to metabolise carbohydrates. Thus excessive refined carbohydrates (cakes, biscuits, pastries etc.) depletes / diminishes thiamine and should be avoided. Thiamine is found in whole grains, brown rice, egg yolks and vegetables. Refined sugar affects glucose and may aggravate hyperactivity.


Salicylates are chemicals found in many foods and aspirin and may trigger hyperactivity. They are found in fruit and vegetables such as apples, apricots, peaches, plums, berries, raisins, potato skins, spinach, carrots and broccoli and peppermint and liquorice sweets. Curry powder, dill, thyme, oregano, turmeric and paprika are high in salicylates.

Nuts and seeds contain moderate quantities of salicylate.

The following are low in the said chemical: bananas, peeled pears, papayas, cabbage, peas, lettuce, peeled potato, poultry, meat, fish, eggs, cereals, pulses and dairy.
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