As more and more studies show the relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and intolerances to certain food substances, more and more children go on specific diets to address the nutritional basis of the disorder. Among these ADHD diets is the glutein-free diet, or Sara’s Diet. Sara’s Diet is based on the gluten-free, casein-free diet (GFCF) in that all wheat and dairy products are forbidden. However, the diet also eliminates food with lutein, a natural pigment found in some vegetables and fruits. The diet was first formulated when experts discovered that some children who went on the GFCF diet without removing lutein experienced allergic reactions when they ate food with lutein. The allergic reactions would cause a metabolic imbalance that interrupted neurotransmitter activity, causing inattention, hyperactivity, and the other symptoms of ADHD.
There are many foods that naturally contain lutein, including red peppers, spinach, peas, egg yolk, mustard, leeks, and Romaine lettuce. It is difficult to say how much lutein these foods contain because the amount depends on factors like soil quality, exposure to light, and the period of the year. Certain vegetables like melon, cucumber, and tomato do not have lutein but instead contain pigments like zeaxanthine and lycopene, which the body metabolizes into lutein.
Lutein is actually not a bad substance per se; in fact, it is known to improve eyesight and work as a natural antioxidant. However, children with ADHD become more sensitive to lutein when they don’t have gluten and casein in their bodies. Researchers also believe that the human body is unable to utilize the lutein that naturally occurs in vegetables. For our body to obtain lutein it can actually use, it is better to consume foods with lycopene, zeaxanthine, and other pigments that the body can convert into bio-available lutein.
The lutein-free diet is often recommended when the GFCF diet does not work, and is as simple to follow as the GFCF diet. All foots containing gluten, casein, lutein, and artificial additives are removed and replaced with nutritious, lutein-free foods. You can either remove lutein-containing foods slowly or immediately, but nutritionists recommend the latter to make it easier to see if the diet is working. Food supplements like omega-3 fish oils and vitamin B, and healing foods like coconut and aloe, help the immune system calm down and ease the body’s natural detoxification abilities.
As the immune system becomes more stable, the child experiences a healing process through which the body gets rid of toxins and restores balance to the metabolism. However, this is where the difficult part begins. Aside from experiencing the withdrawal symptoms of gluten and casein loss, your child can also experience certain temporary problems as toxins get flushed out. These include cold-like symptoms and flu-like symptoms. It might be worrisome at first, but the emergence of these symptoms is a sign that the diet is working.
Before putting your child on the lutein-free diet, please consult your physician or a nutritionist and ask for a diet plan. Going on Sara’s Diet without proper planning and expert advice may lead to a vitamin A or vitamin D deficiency, which will only trigger symptoms of ADHD.