Between 3% and 7% of children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in the United States, so the odds are quite good that you or someone you know is being treated for this common neurobehavioral disorder. But could a gluten allergy contribute to your symptoms? If so, could the gluten-free diet help curb your symptoms?
Studies show that people with newly diagnosed celiac disease are more likely than average to suffer from symptoms of ADHD, and those symptoms tend to improve or disappear entirely once the person begins eating gluten-free.
It's less clear whether people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity might have ADHD symptoms that are relieved by the gluten-free diet — medical research hasn't resolved that question. Many parents report success when they remove gluten from their ADHD-diagnosed childrens' diets, regardless of what research has (or hasn't) yet shown. But this effect could simply be due to the elimination of highly-sugared, un-nutritious processed foods, the majority of which happen to have gluten in them.
The bottom line: going gluten-free will probably help your ADHD if you have celiac disease, and it may help your symptoms if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (or possibly another form of gluten allergy). Although the use of diet to treat ADHD is controversial (and some recent studies haven't shown a benefit), it might be worth talking to your doctor about whether eliminating gluten could help.
Learn more about ADHD:
Read about the other eight signs that may indicate you have a gluten allergy:
1. Dysfunctional Digestion
2. Intractable Dandruff
3. Itchy, Scratchy Rash
4. Foggy Brain
5. Pounding Headaches
6. Pins and Needles
7. Attention Deficits
8. Depression, Anxiety and Irritability
9. Infertility or Trouble Conceiving
10. So You Might Have A Gluten Allergy - What Now?
Niederhofer H. Association of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Celiac Disease: A Brief Report. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. 2011; 13(3):PCC.10br01104.
Neiderhofer H. et al. A preliminary investigation of ADHD symptoms in persons with celiac disease. Journal of Attention Disorders. 2006 Nov;10(2):200-4.