The Feingold Diet Program for ADHD
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What external factors can
bring on ADHD symptoms?



ADHD has been linked with numerous external factors, including the artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and salicylates addressed by the Feingold Diet.

Some of these factors, in alphabetical order:

  • Allergies to pet, pollen, or mold
  • Allergies (other)
  • Artificial colorings and flavorings
  • Artificial (petroleum-based) preservatives BHA, BHT, and TBHQ
  • Auditory processing problems
  • Benzoate additives, naturally occurring benzoates
  • Brain damage following infection or physical trauma
  • Calcium propionate (preservative used in some bread)
  • Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup
  • Essential fatty acid deficiency
  • Family - abusive environment or trauma[27],[28]
  • Food allergens
  • Fumes from oil heat, kerosene heaters, natural gas
  • Gluten intolerance, or unrecognized Celiac Disease
  • Head injury, especially to frontal lobes [25]
  • Hypoglycemia or reactive hypoglycemia
  • Iodine deficiency or thyroid problem
  • Iron or magnesium deficiency
  • Low birth weight, prematurity
  • Medication side effects (prescription or over-the-counter)
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG, HVP, also found hidden in "flavoring" etc.)
  • Nitrates
  • Oxygen deprivation during birth
  • Perfumes and fragrances
  • Pesticide exposure
  • Petroleum and petroleum-derived products such as tar and asphalt
  • PKU disorder
  • Polluted air
  • Postnatal exposure to mercury, lead, or other heavy metals
  • Prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco smoke, heavy metals, certain medications and drugs
  • Salicylates
  • Sensory integration problems
  • Sleep deficiency or deprivation
  • Smoke from fireplace, wood stove
  • Soy formula in infancy (if child has difficulty excreting manganese which is excessive in soy formula)
  • Stress if excessive
  • Sulfation difficulty due to low or suppressed phenol sulfotransferase enzyme (salicylate suppresses this enzyme too)
  • Teething, even in older children
  • Vision deficits, including “convergence insufficiency” or subtle eye muscle imbalance
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency or inability to use it efficiently
  • Zinc deficiency or inability to retain zinc - zinc may be lost excessively upon exposure to food dyes (Ward 1990, 1997)
  • Yeast levels artificially raised by oral antibiotic use before age 2 (yeast secretes chemicals similar to those eliminated by the Feingold diet)


How is it possible to identify any of the above culprits?

A good first step in addressing ADHD symptoms is to remove items that have been shown to cause the greatest problems for the most people. The primary focus of the Feingold Program is removal of several groups of synthetic additives, many of which are made from petroleum and have been found to trigger behavior, learning, and health problems. These same chemical additives have also been shown in studies to promote a variety of cancers, so getting rid of them does not have a down side. The program also shows members how to temporarily remove “natural salicylates” to see if they may be triggering any of the symptoms of ADHD.

In most cases the first change seen is an improvement in behavior; other ADHD symptoms such as school performance might take a little longer to respond. Some people find that the Feingold Program is all they need to use, while for others, it is only one piece of the puzzle. The Program package, the newsletter (Pure Facts) and other resources included with membership discuss the types of triggers listed above and provide information on how to deal with them. Experienced parent volunteers are available to help members find additional resources and answer questions. Even in the case of a head injury, it is worthwhile trying the Feingold diet to see how much improvement may be attained by this non-invasive and healthful approach. After all - everybody has to eat anyway. More than one parent has reported to us that their child had been written off as "brain damaged" because of an earlier car accident and concussion, only to find that he was perfectly normal on the Feingold diet. In that case, at least, the damage was in the mind of the physician - not the child.

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Last Updated 11/18/13