Diet and the brain are very closely linked.

What you eat or do not eat will directly affect the brain. I’m not saying that 100% of ADD or ADHD cases are caused by diet, but I am saying that majority of them are. In Dr. Sears’ book on what he calls Nutrition Deficit Disorder (NDD), he describes a fictional kid named Johnny to help people better grasp this idea.

Johnny eats a dinner of junk food, think pizza, pasta, mac, and cheese or chicken tenders, typical “kid” food. He gets poor sleep because he had an unhealthy dinner that spiked his blood sugar and gave him very little nutrients.

Johnny wakes up tired and groggy and has an unhealthy breakfast, something like cereal. His blood sugar spikes again, and once more he isn’t getting the nutrients his young brain and body need. Min-moring, poor Johnny’s blood sugar drops and he gets hungry. He can’t focus. He starts to fidget.

For lunch, he has yet another nutrient depleted, carb-heavy meal. Blood sugar spikes.

Mid-afternoon, his blood sugar drops again. He’s tired and groggy. Predictably, Johnny’s not paying attention to the teacher, but playing around with the kid next to him. He’s look out the window. His brain needs energy and the proper fuel to focus, but Johnny’s parents aren’t feeding him the food he needs. The cycle repeats itself until his grades drop or the teachers are fed up and suggest sending him to the doctor. The doctor never considers Johnny’s diet and prescribed him Adderall, when all Johnny really needs is a diet change.

Most people know that what they eat determines how they physically look. But they rarely think about how diet affects their internal organs, their mood, their focus.

Like every cell and organ in the body, the brain needs to be fed nutritious foods for optimal function. A lack of vitamins, minerals, and fats will negatively affect the brain, as will a diet rich in sugar, carbohydrates, toxins and omega-6 rich oils. From   a study performed by The Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University,

The present study found that 53 subjects with ADHD had significantly lower concentrations of key fatty acids in the plasma polar lipids (20:4n-6, 20:5n-3, and 22:6n-3) and in red blood cell total lipids (20:4n-6 and 22:4n-6) than did the 43 control subjects. Also, a subgroup of 21 subjects with ADHD exhibiting many symptoms of essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency had significantly lower plasma concentrations of 20:4n-6 and 22:6n-3 than did 32 subjects with ADHD with few EFA-deficiency symptoms. Source

A common occurrence with those suffering from ADD and ADHD is a lack of omega-3 fatty acids, which are highly anti-inflammatory and considered a brain food.

According to Dr. Richardson at The Department of Physiology, Human Anatomy and Genetics at University of Oxford,

Dietary supplementation with fish oils (providing EPA and DHA) appears to alleviate ADHD-related symptoms in at least some children, and one study of DCD children also found benefits for academic achievement. Source

Sugar also plays a significant role in ADD. When sugar or a carbohydrate-rich food is eaten (like cereal), this affects dopamine receptor. Dopamine makes you feel good, but it also makes you want more and more.

We postulate that sugar acutely increases dopamine, which, over time, leads to a reduced number of D2 receptors and possibly a reduction in extracellular dopamine itself, leading to desensitization of this dopamine signaling axis. These effects would not be due to the acute effects of sugar, but rather would occur over weeks to months with chronically elevated and intermittent sugar ingestion. If this is true, then children with ADHD may ingest more sugar than other children in an attempt to correct the dopamine-deficient state, resulting in excessive sugar intake that could result in “sugar addiction” and increase their risk for obesity. Source

This goes back to the terrible vicious cycle.

Kids eat meal after meal of carbohydrate-rich, nutrient depleted junk food. Over time, they produce less and less dopamine and therefore crave more and more sugar.

And let’s not forget that these carbohydrate-rich junk foods like cereal, pop tarts, pizza, bread, sweets, and chips are loaded with toxins, artificial dyes, and additives. A study performed at North Shore Hospital-Cornell Medical Center demonstrated that children react favorably when these additives and dyes are removed from the diet,

This study demonstrates a beneficial effect of eliminating reactive foods and artificial colors in children with ADHD. Dietary factors may play a significant role in the etiology of the majority of children with ADHD. Source

This high-carb, low vitamin and mineral diet directly affects the brain.

Children with ADD and ADHD have shown to be deficient in iron, zinc, vitamin D and likely many other vitamins and minerals. Children need a balanced, well-rounded diet. They need healthy fats, proteins, and veggies. Kids don’t need mac and cheese, pizza, candy, ice cream, cereal and all of the other junk food they are bombarded with on a daily basis.

Kids can heal from ADD and ADHD. If you’d like to start feeding your family a healthy, well-balanced diet, I recommend checking out my 21 Day Lifestyle Transformation.

For issues when it comes to focusing, I recommend cod liver oil and the essential oil, InTune. FCLO is rich in vitamins A and D as well as omega-3s. It is the definition of brain food. Click HERE for cod liver oil.

I also recommend InTune, an essential oil blend that enhances focus. It’s a blend that supports a healthy thought process and helps those with difficulty paying attention. It allows people to better sustain focus no matter their age.

Learn how to buy InTune HERE.




  1. This should say “contributes” and not CAUSES. We need to think contextually. Children get this “crap-food” in homes where the parents make under a certain amount of money. We see more ADHD/ADD in lower income families. Does low income CAUSE ADD/ADHD (which btw behaviorally are much different)? No. Although there is a for relational relationship. Second, if it’s caused by a food then it is not ADD/ADHD and so your article can only claim symptoms. This is buzzword journalism.

    • dani stout Reply

      No, it shouldn’t. I did not say that diet is the cause for ALL cases, but it is a cause none the less. This is a fact. Certain foods like dyes, sugar, vegetable oils, etc and a lack of nutrients the brain needs causes hyperactivity (among other things) in the brain. This point was clearly outlined in the article so I suggest re-reading so you can better grasp the fact that diet is a cause of ADD.

      • I can’t think food causes ADD Or ADHD so I call BS on that one! But from growing up with ADD and Dyslexia and here are some things I have found out over the years about my self is… I am allergic to red food dyes #40 as well as #4, something in Skin So Soft, Wool, and something used in the making of a number of things and I have not worked out what it is yet(it is something not on labels and use in the making of a high number of things from food to meds long story doctor is still trying to help workout what it is too).

        But any way back to my point… I think like when it comes to other things people that are ADD and ADHD are just more sensitive to things in foods, meds and other things like this that can cause issues for the ADD and ADHD person and I will add I do know I take supplements that I found that I need and eat healthier my symptoms are lesser than when I am not doing so! But stress, lack of sleep, just being tired at all, angry and to many things going on at the same time all of these makes it worse.

        So I will say in a way you are partly right things that claim, good diet can help and in others you are not at all! Because it is not a CAUSES of this and the people(like my self) we are just more sensitive to things that makes the issues that are already there worse or better for some reason or a another. Other things that can help working out, keeping ones mind busy is a healthy way and things the lessen stress in ones life can help, teaching the skills of tools that the ADD or ADHD person is missing or does not come easily to them like others and someone to understand them but is good at pushing them in the healthy and right ways they need.

        So I wanted to post these idea that I had when reading your post here. And being one my self I am tired of hearing this type of thing for over 30 years now and being an adult now and seeing all of these things in the media now and remembering what it felt like to see and hear them then and it makes my heart hurt for these kids now and hope they find there best way to what they need to be there best them and not hurting inside like I did growing up. I am very up set by things like this and right now I am very upset SO I am hoping my point is coming across right here. I am not mad at you as a person I just want to share my feeling and what I know and hope it helps someone too. Thanks

        • dani stout Reply

          You can call bullshit all you want but it’s a fact. So you can ignore the facts if you want. And like I said, diet isn’t the only cause of ADD and isn’t the cause for everyone, but it’s a cause none the less.

      • To Dani Stout, of whom was marked as the author of this post in the comments section, and to Diet is NOT cause of ADD/ADHD!!! What utter hogwash!! Where did you get this information from? The food choices do affect the ADD/ADHD symptoms, but they DO NOT CAUSE THEM. The conclusions you make are far from the truth. ADHD/ADD is a genetic, neuro-biological disorder, in where the brain cannot regulate the production and the delivery of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. It can NOT be healed; however with using a holistic approach and a variety of strategies, including ADHD medication (that has been around for 100 years), one can reduce the symptoms to make life more manageable. Please read some of Dr. Russell A. Barkley’s books. Especially this one: Also, please visit his website and EDUCATE yourself properly:
        To the owner/ author of, how can we take anything you say as credible? You don’t list your name, personal information, professional (medical) credentials or professional resume on your website. There is NO REASON to believe that you are an authority on nutrition. For shame on you as well, posting articles like this without doing the proper research to show proof. Both of you do a severe discredit to the millions of people who suffer from ADHD/ADD.

  2. Hello! My son is already on a gluten free diet and I make most of his food, but I’m concerned that he eats too many carbs. I’d like to make more grain free options for him but I’ve heard that eating too much almond flour is bad. What is your take on that? My son is unfortunately allergic to coconut, so I can’t supplement with that. Thanks!

    • dani stout Reply

      It’s definitely possible to eat too many carbs and too much almond flour. I’d recommend cutting back for sure. My 21 Day Lifestyle Transformation is completely gluten-free and will give you some great ideas.

  3. I disagree with this completely. Diet can be a factor that contributes to the behavioral issues associated with ADD, but I don’t believe that it is a cause. Dyes, artificial processed foods and all the other junk that is put into food can cause what is often (over) diagnosed as ADD.
    We’ve always been very careful about what we feed our kids and my son still has ADD. My daughter does not. If diet was the cause then you’d see a whole family of kids with ADD. You can not cure ADD with diet.

    • dani stout Reply

      I’m confused, you say diet doesn’t cause ADD, then say “Dyes, artificial processed foods and all the other junk that is put into food can cause what is often (over) diagnosed as ADD.”

      And like I said – diet isn’t the only cause of ADD so the argument about your daughter having it if your son’s was caused by diet isn’t valid.

      Also, you CAN cure ADD with diet. I know mothers who have done it.

  4. What supplementation would you recommend for someone who is allergic to fish?

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