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Change of diet gives hyperactive children new taste for life in Norway

Change of diet gives hyperactive children new taste for life in Norway

Tears streak Rita's cheek as she recalls trying to figure out what was wrong with her son more than a decade ago, but she breaks into a smile when she explains how changing his diet made all the difference.
"I could tell something was wrong with him as soon as he began eating solids as a baby. It was if the food was draining him," says Rita.
She said her son Christoffer had yoyoed between passive and hyperactive behavior until she had removed several staples from his diet including milk and grains.
Christoffer, today a normal 14-year-old, is one of 23 children suffering from hyperactive disorders who were put on milk-free diets in 1996-1997.
The group set out to prove a theory by scientist Karl Ludvig Reichelt that a metabolic disorder making it difficult to break down certain proteins, including casein (a protein in milk), could cause mental problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
"One of the kids I worked with started on the diet on Wednesday and by the weekend his parents said they saw a huge positive change in his behavior," says special educator Magne Noedland.
All 23 children were suspected of having ADHD and had been shown to have abnormal levels of peptides in their urine. The accumulation of peptides, short compounds containing two or more amino acids, is an indication the enzyme needed to fully break down certain proteins is inhibited or missing, and can have an opium-like effect on the brain, according to Reichelt.
There is however a lot of skepticism about the theory in medical circles, with many doctors believing medication like Ritalin is the best way to treat the condition.
Noedland acknowledges the Stavanger project does not meet all scientific standards, claiming the main problem is the lack of comprehensive studies on how many ADHD children suffer from peptide abnormalities.
The children in the Stavanger project all followed a strict casein-free diet the first year, and the results were overwhelmingly positive, Noedland says.
A number of the children have since stopped following the diet for different reasons and some were put on medication.
"We see a clear difference between those who stopped and those who stayed on the diet," Noedland says.
"Seeing these kids going from one day not being able to learn a thing to the next day being receptive; as a teacher that's a wonderful feeling," says Kristine Fosse, one of the educators involved in the project.
One of the children who still avoids milk and gluten, 17-year-old Sigbjoern, says any lapse in his diet affects his performance in school.
"I can tell right away when I've eaten something I shouldn't. It's really hard to concentrate. I'm always careful before tests," he says.


Updated : 2021-07-31 17:43 GMT+08:00