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The Cave Man's ADHD Diet

The Cave Man followed a natural diet of fresh, frozen, or dried meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, eggs, and nuts.

Obviously, the Cave Man ate only organically grown food. You can, too, if it is available. See some notes below.

Milk, Grains

Milk was not included in the Cave Man's Diet, although a Cave Baby nursed for two (or likely three) years, getting plenty of calcium from their mother's milk. Only after domesticating goats, sheep, etc., did later Humans become the only species to derives nutrients from the milk of another species, and to continue to do so after weaning. Grains are not included in the Cave Man's Diet either. They may have picked seeds of various grasses, but these were ancient grains not much like what we eat today. (This means no wheat, oats, barley, etc. Note that these grains contain gluten, which was introduced to the Cave People much later on, after they had learned to cultivate crops. They often must have wondered why some of their children suffered from what we now recognize as gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. Download an interesting article on the history of gluten and celiac disease here.) Corn as we buy it today was also not in existence at that time, so it is probably best to avoid it. If you love corn, at least limit yourself to an organic brand.

Meats, Fish, Poultry

It's all okay as long as it is plain -- that means without other stuff injected into it or added to it. If you possibly can, use grass-fed beef, vegetarian-fed pork, 100% organic, etc., because that is what the Cave People ate, and it's probably best. There are studies to show that meat from grass-fed animals has healthier fat with more omega-3 and less stress hormones. One more thing .... if the meat is sitting on a pad, it often isn't just there to soak up any random juices, but is full of a preservative. A tip-off would be the sell-by date ... if the hamburger meat or fish will last a week, is that normal? Whether that preservative is harmful to you, is not known. Consider being suspicious, especially if your symptoms have not been improving, and find a butcher who doesn't use them.

Rice, Beans

Although white or brown rice was not eaten by the Cavemen except where it grew wild, it is so well tolerated that it may be on the menu. Beans are a vegetable. They can be grown in your garden, of course, but those found in a bag in the supermarket (especially if organic) will be fine. Broad (fava) beans are a problem for people with G6PD Enzyme Deficiency.

Additives

No artificial colorings, flavorings, or preservatives were used by any of the Cave Men, Cave Women or Cave Kids.

Salicylates

The Cave Man ate all sorts of fruits and vegetables, but as he walked out of Africa to Europe where he had more access to Temperate Zone fruits such as apples and berries, some of his children may have become hyperactive. Today it is understood that a group of natural chemicals called salicylates (Suh-LIH-Suh-Lates), are made by many plants as a pesticide to protect themselves. These various chemicals are related to aspirin (originally from willow bark, which the Cave Man probably knew about). Most of them are tolerated by most people, but some are more likely to create symptoms of hyperactivity, eczema, or asthma. Surprisingly, this has little to do with how much salicylate is in the plant, but rather with the kind of salicylate. Unfortunately, while amounts have been measured, the various kinds found in different fruits have not been studied, so lists based on amount are not very useful and may make your diet harder. Those that are eliminated from the Feingold Diet -- and the Cave Man's ADHD Diet -- are listed here. Most people can eventually tolerate at least some of these salicylates.

Fragrances, Non-Food Items

Cave people did not have synthetic fragrances although they probably used natural ones. Since most fragrances in the store are far from natural, they will not be used at all in this diet. Non-food items which contain any of the additives above or the listed salicylates are also eliminated. The Cave Man brushed his teeth with a stick. He would chew on the end until it became like a brush, after which he would rub his teeth with the brush for a while. Back in the 1970s when I lived in Nigeria, I saw people doing that and the Nigerians seemed to all have beautiful teeth. However, be careful - not just any stick will do. On Amazon.com there are a number of different types to try if you want to do this, or you can just use a plain white toothbrush and water. Later you can try some of the many natural toothpastes out there, but water will do just fine for now. It's the brushing that counts.

The Cave Man didn't use soap the way we do, either. He probably used plants containing saponin, but we draw the line - I'm not telling you to give up showers. Do try and find the best possible natural soap without any fragrance, preservative, or colorings. It's easy to even make your own soap if you can get the lye needed for it. Once you find such a soap, it can double as shampoo if you have normal hair, or you can find some unscented shampoo/conditioner in a health food store or a shop like Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe's.

After a good response

After you have had a good response to the Cave Man's ADHD Diet, add organic whole milk (milk without vitamin A palmitate, which can have hidden preservatives) and see if it is tolerated.

Also, once you have had a good response to the diet, feel free to add the grains, one at a time, and to begin to eat (home made) bread.

Once you are comfortable using the Cave Man's Feingold Diet, and have determined whether (or not) you tolerate milk and grains, begin to experiment with the salicylates, in small amounts. You will need to determine which ones, and how much of them, you can tolerate.

Vitamins, etc.

To make sure you and your children get adequate calcium, eat sardines, mackerel, broccoli, cabbage, and other leafy green vegetables. Your doctor or other health care providor can advise you on whether to add a calcium supplement or any other vitamin. You may also want to see some of the studies about vitamins for ADHD.

To make sure you and your children get adequate Vitamin D, eat fatty fish and/or organ meats, or stay in the sun at least 15 minutes a day.

To make sure to get enough Vitamin C, replace the salicylate-containing orange juice with grapefruit juice or lemon juice. You may want to dilute grapefruit juice with water and add sugar ... do the same with some fresh squeezed lemon, and you have lemonade! Many other acceptable fruits and vegetables also contain plenty of Vitamin C, but if you are still worried about it, there are good supplements you can buy. Ask to make sure that the vitamin C powder you buy does not come from green peppers or rose hips.

If you feel you must use a vitamin preparation, check your local health food store, and be sure to avoid those with salicylate flavorings or ingredients, including rose hips and acerola.

If you must use medication while trying the Cave Man's ADHD Diet, ask for a brand without artificial coloring and flavoring. You may want to use a compounding pharmacist. The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists should be able to recommend one for you.

At any point during this process, if you want to have a less limited diet, please contact the Feingold Association to become a full member and receive the Program materials including the Stage One and Stage Two Foodlist & Shopping Guide with thousands of brand name products, the Fast Food List, and all the other materials provided to make your diet less an "adventure" and more "American-style normal."

An interesting collection of Cave Man Diet recipes is located at The Paleo Food Recipe Collection.

Warning:   Many of these recipes do include salicylate-containing fruits and vegetables, so use your list of salicylates and check the recipes carefully. You may be able to make substitutions - pears instead of apples, for example.
A section of these recipes gives instruction on smoking meats and fish. Save this for later, as some people are sensitive to smoke ingredients, and the salicylate content of trees of salicylate-containing fruits (i.e., apple wood) is unknown. Wood of birch or willow are known to contain a lot of salicylate - even birch pollen in the spring can be a problem for sensitive people.

Extra Help

Read the first part of the book by Jane Hersey, National Director of the Feingold Association: Why Can't My Child Behave?.

You can download Part One - about 50 pages - for free, and you can order the whole book from Amazon by clicking on the book picture if you wish.

For more information on the science behind the diet, download the Feingold Bluebook here.

You can also visit the science website Talking About The Science to see more information on individual studies.







Notes on Organic Foods

A few Feingold Association members report that eating organic foods was required for their children to have a good response to dietary intervention. Most members do not require organic foods.

Avoid any brand of chicken with a yellow skin. While this may "look" healthy, it is produced by feeding the chicken large amounts of marigold meal. Marigolds are a salicylate, and the Feingold Association has received reports of salicylate-type reactions to yellow chicken.

Organic vegetables are not genetically modified by inserting genes from other species. They are grown with natural fertilizers, and without toxic pesticides. They are not waxed or treated with fungicides while waiting to be sold to you. For some people (but not most) such chemicals are a problem. Certainly, Cave People finding such chemicals on their food would have been shocked.

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