Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners Worsen ADHD | Maximized Living

Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners Worsen ADHD

October 22, 2012

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Fighting ADHD

Processed, sugar-laden foods have been constantly linked to increased rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Every expert acknowledges the fact that sugar is devoid of helpful nutrients. The negative impact sugar has on learning has been a major cause of concern for decades. Sugar not only provides empty calories, it's also called an "anti-nutrient." It actually blocks function and the absorption of other key nutrients the body needs to focus and function properly.

However, sugar itself is only part of the battle.

Artificial sweeteners and carbohydrate-based diets also pose many of the same problems as sugar. In the case of chemical sweeteners, these issues can be worse. Carbohydrates are converted to sugar. Therefore, an excess of carbs, particularly refined carbs, will cause similar sugar-like problems.

Chemical sweeteners affect physiology, and there are concerns these biochemical changes harm the brain.

There is no simple answer. However, we do know that a lack of vital nutrients can diminish levels of focus and self-control. These deficiencies commonly result from an over-consumption of sugar.

Sugars, and carbohydrates in general, increase drowsiness.


Swapping out sugars for nutrient rich foods has shown—in some instances—that dietary changes can improve the ability to manage ADHD in children. Because of this, a healthy diet has been referred to as "perhaps the most promising and practical complementary or alternative treatment" for ADHD.

According to recent research, proteins have shown to activate neurotransmitters in the brain that can help kids stay focused. This confirms longstanding evidence that a low-sugar diet featuring good fats and proteins will help balance blood sugar and set you up for more success in education.

Unfortunately, about 5 percent of kids are not eating the recommended amounts of protein for breakfast and lunch. Most kids require 24-30 grams of protein every day. Instead of helpful healthy proteins, children are eating more sugar, which has been linked to destructiveness and recklessness.

Avoiding Sugar

In one form or another, sugar is found in nearly all commercially processed foods. Avoiding common forms of sugar can decrease the instance of nutritional deficiency. For example:

  • High fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Sorghum
  • Maltodextrin; dextrose
  • Molasses
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose; sucrose

Each of these impacts your blood stream the same way, causing your blood sugar levels to fluctuate sharply. These ingredients can also increase the fidgeting and inattentiveness characteristic of ADHD.

Sugars and sweeteners have seemingly been worked into nearly all the items on grocery store shelves. Unfortunately, the items that satiate a sweet tooth can worsen ADHD, while also interfering with blood sugar levels and promoting the storage of fat—both factors that increase risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Preventing Sugar Burnout

The Maximized Living Advanced Plan takes a head-on approach to eliminating sugars and the grains that turn to sugar from the diet. There are many alternatives to sweeteners that are a healthy part of this diet. It can help people of all ages who are struggling with attention—in or out of school.

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