Many children find reprieve from symptoms when put on the Feingold diet, which is the avoidance of food dyes and additives, commonly found in our foods and medicines. This includes anything that has artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo study, children ages 3-9 years old showed significant adverse effects after consuming artificial colors and preservatives, resulting in hyperactivity and ADHD. Many food dyes are banned in European countries as a result. These dyes are also linked to cancer and birth defects as they are allowed to contain harmful contaminants like lead, mercury and arsenic. A European study found an increase in brain tumors in rats given the artificial sweetener, aspartame. The FDA does not monitor artificial flavorings. One such flavor, vanillin, can be especially problematic as it is known to inhibit an important liver enzyme by 50%.
More information can be found on the Feingold webpage.