TV Interview: Can foods help children with ADD, ADHD?

Dr. Volpe was interviewed concerning his work with children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and an improved diet. The interview was aired in Houston on the 10 pm news of the local NBC affiliate on January 20, 2012.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Can foods help children with ADD, ADHD?

Excerpts from the interview:

“Volpe is a chiropractor and nutritionist but over the years, solving health problems naturally became his passion. He doesn’t advise his patients on whether to medicate their children, he just looks at their diet and their health history to help. Volpe says some children are very sensitive to certain foods.

Volpe warns, “Children today have a very poor diet — a lot of sugar, a lot of processed foods, a lot of what we would call empty calories.”

He says don’t expect food to reproduce that laser like focus that Adderral, Ritalin or Concerta brings.

Volpe worries the drugs are just a band-aid — they never correct the problem, just the symptoms.”

Gluten-free recipes, contributed by Allison Plesko

 1.Carob-Walnut Brownies


1/4 cup melted butter or ghee

6 Tablespoons carob powder

½ cup honey

2 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup quinoa flour (Can substitute other GF flours)

2 teaspoons vanilla [optional]

1 cup chopped walnuts

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Mix the honey, ghee, egg whites salt, and vanilla together.

Add the carob powder.

Mix in the flour and then the walnuts.

Put the mixture into a non-stick 8′ x 8′ pan (or use nonstick spray).

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Read More »

Gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease: new understanding and testing options

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes certain characteristic changes in the lining of the small intestine. The trigger for Celiac Disease is a severe reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains. Although there is a blood test for Celiac Disease, it is not always reliable and the standard for diagnosis is an intestinal biopsy to identify the changes that are typical of this illness.

Although Celiac Disease used to be considered rare, there is evidence that the incidence of this serious and sometimes life-threatening illness has been growing. A recent study that compared military records from 50 years ago to current ones concluded that over this time period the incidence of Celiac disease rose from one case in 700 people to one in just one hundred (Gastroenterology, 2009 July; 137(1): 88-93). The reasons for this explosion are not entirely clear but there is a probable link to changes in the composition and processing of food, as well as new environmental challenges to the immune system.

Aside from Celiac Disease, people can suffer from different types of sensitivity to gluten that are not associated with the same characteristic intestinal changes. Mainstream medicine does not recognize these other forms of sensitivity to gluten, but many doctors and nutritionists, myself included, strongly believe they exist and are common. Read More »

Gluten-free restaurants in Houston

Contributed by Allison Plesko

As we all know, going gluten-free can be overwhelming, especially with children. To make your life a little easier, listed below are some restaurants featuring gluten-free menus throughout Houston and the surrounding areas.

  • Jason’s Deli
  • Pei Wei
  • PF Chang’s
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Olive Garden
  • Joe’s Crab Shack
  • Ruggles Green- Inner Loop area only
  • Pinks Pizza- Inner Loop area only

**Many of these restaurants have Dairy-Free options as well.

A Mother’s Story

This is not the type of email I receive every day, but when one arrives it is always touching and it gives me a very good feeling about what I do. When I received this one I immediately thought I would like to share it with my readers. I emailed the author asking if I could do so, after changing her daughter’s name. She answered that I could share it with anyone I wanted, and there was no need to change any names, anyway she already tells everyone she meets. For privacy concerns I still changed the name. Here is her email:

”I’ve been meaning to write you for a while, but never seem to find the time to sit down and write when it is on my mind. If you remember we started the gluten-free casein-free soy-free diet in October. If I remember correctly we were probably on the diet for 2-3 weeks when she came down with a terrible sinus infection. We had a follow-up with you in early November, and she had just gotten over her sinus infection. I had taken her to our regular pediatrician, who is quite open-minded, but basically painted the picture that he has seen her situation (gigantic tonsils) many times over the years, and that he bet he would be seeing a lot of us that winter. He explained how the crowding doesn’t allow the ears to drain, etc. and that while she would eventually outgrow it, how much intervention would we have to do in the meantime? It was clear to me (without him saying it) that he thought tonsillectomy was the right path. That until we did the surgery, we’d be in and out of his office with illness like a revolving door, especially during the winter. I left feeling discouraged, but we stuck with the diet and supplements.
Read More »

When “Dogtor J” talks, smart people listen!

Just a few weeks ago, as I was searching for specific information relating to gluten, I came across a different kind of website by a vet who calls himself “Dogtor J.” The address is

The design of this website is intriguing, with the top of every page showing an attractive picture of a dog – quite a treat for a dog lover like myself! It took me a while to understand why this site would even have come up on a Google search for amino acid content of gluten, but then I realized that it was no mistake because the site is actually full of pertinent information.

It’s easy to get lost in the site as there are pages upon pages of information on a broad range of pet and human conditions linked to food intolerance, and other philosophical dissertations on diet and the history of food. Since I was about to leave town to attend a conference in Boston I decided to print a few pages and read them on the way. I ended up printing more than fifty pages, but they made for great airplane reading!
Read More »

How to recognize food allergies in your child (or yourself)

Food allergies can be difficult to understand and to explain, and yet they cannot be ignored as they play a major role in children’s health. A wide array of symptoms, from chronic ear infections to hyperactivity, bedwetting or even grinding teeth can often be resolved when one or a few offending foods are identified and removed from the diet.

Some of the confusion may originate from the very word “allergy” because it immediately evokes images of sneezing, congestion or hives – yet these symptoms are rarely seen with what are known as “hidden” food allergies.

When foods do cause reactions such as sneezing or hives, they do so through the same mechanism as allergies to mold, dust or pollen. Sometimes smelling a food is enough to set off the reaction and, in extreme cases, we may hear of a child who went into life-threatening anaphylactic shock after smelling a peanut. Reactions to these substances tend to be immediate, and as a result the allergies are easy to identify. They can also be confirmed by skin testing, a process whereby a tiny amount of allergen is injected beneath the skin.
Read More »

Autism, in the eyes of a father and researcher

Dr. Bernard Rimland is the founder of the Autism Research Institute. In an article he wrote for the Autism Research Review International [2001;15(3):3], he gives an account of his 45-year endeavor to find a cure for autism ñ an endeavor that began when his son was diagnosed in 1956. Although he held a PhD in experimental psychology, Dr. Rimland had never heard of autism at the time of his son’s diagnosis. His son’s pediatrician, with 35 years experience in practice at the time, had never heard of it either. As incredible as it may sound today, Dr. Rimland reminds us that autism was once a rare occurrence.

Dr. Rimland first turned to mainstream medicine, but did not receive much help. At the time, it was believed that autism was caused by mothers who could not express their love for their children. Today, medicine has fortunately discarded that opinion but still denies that there is any biological basis in autism, embracing instead an unlikely genetic theory. Since by definition there cannot be an epidemic of a genetic illness, medicine holds that there is no epidemic here, only increased awareness leading to more frequent diagnosis. Although autism was said to affect only one in several thousand children just a few decades ago, recent estimates place it at one in 150 children.

Dr. Rimland first became interested in studying diet modification and nutritional supplementation for children with autism after hearing of the work that nutritionally oriented “orthomolecular” psychiatrists were doing with other developmental disorders, including childhood schizophrenia (see Brain Allergies, by William Philpott, MD, ISBN 0-658-00398-4 and Mental and Elemental Nutrients by Carl Pfeiffer, Ph.D, MD, ISBN 0-87983-114-6). After extensive research, Dr. Rimland and his associates found that supplemental amounts of Vitamin B6 and magnesium were helpful to many autistic children. As of this year, 18 studies conducted in six countries show the effectiveness and safety of this nutrient combination and yet medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have not endorsed it.

Additional research has shown that dietary avoidance of dairy products and gluten (a protein found in wheat and some other grains) is also beneficial for many autistic children.

Although there are numerous studies today confirming the effectiveness of this therapeutic approach, it continues to lack official endorsement as well.

Vaccines have consistently been implicated as a possible cause of the autism epidemic. Even though this is a very controversial topic and research has never found a definite link between vaccines and autism, there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence suggesting that there is a connection. Dr. Rimland points out that, in the past ten years, the number of vaccines required for a child in the United States before the age of two has risen from eight to 22 and that a majority of parents can trace the onset of their child’s symptoms to a specific vaccination. As Dr. Rimland also notes, many vaccines contain thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative. This leads to the direct injection of mercury, “one of the most poisonous substances on earth” in his words, into infants’ bodies.

For more information, visit

Headaches and gluten sensitivity

An article published in the medical journal Neurology (2001; 56(3):385-8) describes ten patients who presented to a clinic complaining of migraine headaches. They all also had other neurological symptoms varying from loss of balance (vertigo), to sensory impairment, however, none of these people had any digestive disturbances.

When tested with MRI and EEG, all of these individuals showed abnormalities in the brain that could explain their symptoms. The author also tested them for intolerance to gluten as part of their evaluation. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye and a few other grains. Every one of the ten patients tested positive for gluten intolerance. All recovered completely when they eliminated gluten from their diets. In addition, their EEG and MRI abnormalities vanished. Interestingly, each of these individuals had the same genetic trait, suggesting that there may a genetic predisposition to gluten intolerance. Gluten allergy has been linked with autism, ADHD and migraine headaches in addition to celiac disease, a severe intestinal and neurological disorder.

Constipation in children and milk allergy

Severe constipation is generally defined as 3 or fewer bowel movements a week. This condition seems to affect many of the children who come to my office. Rarely have parents been informed, before seeing me, of a possible link between constipation in children and allergy to the protein in milk.

What sometimes confuses the issue is that routine blood tests for food allergies may not reveal a reaction to milk, but eliminating milk for a trial period from a child’s diet rarely fails to reduce or eliminate the problem.

A quick search on Medline, the Internet service that searches medical journals, yields 104 studies, all from reputable sources and some from pediatric publications, linking children’s constipation with allergy to milk. A few of these studies are:

• Allergic constipation: association with infantile milk allergy. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 2001 Jul;40(7):399-402
• Cow’s milk and chronic constipation in children. N Engl J Med 1999;340(11):891
• Constipation and intolerance to cow’s milk. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2000;30(2):224
• Constipation in children. N Engl J Med 1998;339(16):1155-6
• Allergy to cow’s milk presenting as chronic constipation. Br Med J 1983;287(6405):1593
• Constipation in childhood. BMJ 1989;299(6708):1116-7

Migraine headache and food allergies

It has been my consistent experience that allergies to common foods – including milk, wheat and eggs – explain the vast majority of migraines. Certain studies were done once and, even though the results were remarkable, they were never repeated – probably for lack of funding. In an older but still valuable study (Lancet, 1979;966-969) 60 migraine sufferers were placed on a strict elimination diet and 85% became migraine-free. Elimination diets are short-term eating plans that require complete avoidance of foods that are most likely to cause a reaction.

When study participants re-introduced the eliminated foods, the most common causes of their migraines were found to be wheat, oranges and eggs. Incidentally, 25% of the participants to the study also happened to have high blood pressure, and in each participant the blood pressure also normalized when they eliminated the foods to which they were allergic.

Food additives and eczema

A recent double-blind study published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy (2001;31:265-273) found that food additives such as tartrazine, benzoate, nitrite and food colors can aggravate eczema (atopic dermatitis). It has been my consistent observation that individuals with eczema improve greatly when they avoid foods they are allergic to as well as food additives, and it is helpful to see this at least partially confirmed in the medical literature.

Two interesting studies on children’s health from Finland

The first of these studies was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2001;322:1-5). It followed 594 children who attended different day care centers in Helsinki over a period of seven months. The children were divided in two groups, one receiving plain milk, and the other milk with Lactobacillus GG (LGG) in it. Lactobacillus is a dietary supplement consisting of bacteria that is beneficial for the intestinal tract and the immune system. LGG is a special strain of this bacteria found in a product called Culturelle.

The group receiving LGG in their milk had significantly fewer days away from day care due to illness and they were free from respiratory tract symptoms for longer periods of time. More complicated infections, such as sinus or ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia were also reduced in the group receiving LGG.

The second study (Allergy, 2001;56:425-8) found that children who consumed higher amounts of margarine were more likely to develop allergic diseases, including eczema, asthma and hay fever. Children who remained free of these diseases typically consumed more butter than margarine. Here’s one more good reason to avoid margarine!

Crohn’s disease, food allergies and dietary supplements

Crohn’s disease is a serious condition that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including severe cramping pain, diarrhea and irreversible damage to the intestinal tract. Various studies have focused on the links between this disease and diet. One study (Am J Clin Nutr, 1996;63:741-745) revealed that 69% of patients with Crohn’s disease were allergic to wheat products and 48% to dairy. Another study (Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 1997;11(4):735-740) showed that eliminating foods to which Crohn’s patients were allergic was at least as effective as steroids in producing remission. Other studies have shown that certain dietary supplements, including vitamin A (Lancet, April 5, 1980:766) and S.boulardii (Gastroenterol, 1993;31(2):129-134), can help in reducing diarrhea and healing the intestinal lining.

Many of the people who suffer from this crippling disease, or the side effects of steroid treatments, probably wish they had been told that medical research supports dietary change as a viable treatment option.

Bronchitis, Emphysema and Food

In a 1967 study, 60 patients with obstructive emphysema and bronchitis were able to bring their symptoms under control and stop using steroid medications when they adopted a grain-free diet. The study, entitled “Food allergy = its role in the symptoms of obstructive emphysema and chronic bronchitis,” was published in the Journal of Asthma Research (9/67;5(1):11-20). Unfortunately, studies such as this have been quickly forgotten, and few follow-up studies have been made. Today, just as in 1967, food is still the single most important factor in health and disease; however, it is rarely considered as such by mainstream healthcare providers.