Autism Awareness and Nutrition – An Introduction

Autism Awareness Month is upon us. Many chronic illnesses, including Autism, can drastically improve by adjusting your diet.  Sound too simplistic to be true? Bear with me as I connect the dots.

Research is finally coming to the forefront confirming how very important diet and nutrition are to your overall health. You ARE, in fact, what you eat. Hippocrates, the “Father of Modern Medicine, said it thousands of years ago “All disease begins in the gut”.  Let’s dive in shall we?

Your intestinal tract is filled with what we call your microbiome. Your microbiome consists of microscopic organisms like bacteria and yeast.  Probiotics are the good bacteria in your intestines that help your intestines do what they do.  We now know that different strains of these bacteria have different properties. Some synthesize vitamins, some help regulate your immune system, some help digest your food, some directly displace yeast off of the receptors on your intestinal cells, and some assist with speech and other cognitive functions and more!  How is this possible?!

For starters, the cells that line your intestines are identical to the cells that line your brain and they talk to each other! They are part of the endocannibinoid system.  In addition, there is a very large nerve, the Vagus nerve, that comes right off of your brainstem that innervates the first 2/3 of your intestines as a part of your autonomic or automatic nervous system. The kicker is that 75% of that nerve actually carries information FROM your intestinal tract BACK to your brain!  Furthermore, seronotinin, a mood modulating neurotransmitter, is produced by your intestinal cells.  That serotonin then goes to your brain to help regulate your mood.  It also goes to the pineal gland where it is converted to melatonin which tells our brain when it’s time to go to sleep. So if you are having mood or behavioral disorders and difficulty sleeping, it may be time to check your gut and change your diet!!

There are a few straight forward things that need to be done if you haven’t done so already. Although it may be easier said than done, it’s time to give it a go.  Firstly it’s time to do away with processed foods.  There is a laundry list of reasons why but for now let’s focus on what we SHOULD be doing. Let’s begin incorporating as many organic fruits and vegetables that are in season as possible. Fruits and Veggies are full of antioxidants which help reduce oxidative stress and generalized inflammation.  Organic because that removes pesticides and herbicides and their side effects from the picture as well as increases the likelihood that the produce is more nutrient rich – especially if you are buying fruit that is in season. When purchasing fresh fruit, know the advantages.  Because the fruit is in season, it will be in abundance and, therefore, cheaper.  It is more likely to be picked at it’s peak and packed with flavor and nutrition.  When you are eating strawberries in January, know that they were harvested half-way across the world – prematurely.  Then sprayed with chemicals to keep them from ripening during the long voyage to your local grocery store. If you MUST have things out of season, frozen is the next best thing.  Frozen produce is picked in season and flash frozen to preserve as much of the nutrition possible.

When it comes to food – the less you do to it, the better it is for you. So RAW organic fruits and veggies are best. Raw plants have live, active enzymes in them that help you process your food.  The raw nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are also great for all of those good bacteria that we’ve talked about that live in your gut. Eat the rainbow! Every different color of the various fruits and veggies indicates a different set of phytonutrients so be sure to get a variety in your diet. If you don’t think you will meet the mark of the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies each day, then consider adding fresh pressed juices to your routine or a whole food based fruit and veggie supplement.

With respect to processed foods anything that comes in a box or bottle should be identified as something that you should probably go without or substitute with something else.  The first ingredient in most processed foods will either be high fructose corn syrup (fake sugar) or soybean oil (mimics estrogen hormones) both of which are likely to be genetically modified (see here).  Now I get that there are a few condiments that are staple items in your pantry like ketchup.  I get it! But look for organic, non-GMO versions with ingredients on the label that you can read!  Ketchup should simply contain tomatoes, vinegar and some spices.  If you can’t read it, don’t eat it!  Pretty much anything that you should be eating is found around the perimeter of the grocery store – fruits, veggies, meat, eggs, and out! Real food rots! Anything that looks like it could survive a nuclear war probably shouldn’t be on your plate. Let’s not even start on the artificial colors and flavors that are known exitotoxins that will likely be lurking all throughout the aisles of your local grocery store.

Another truly key element in our diets is good, clean, healthy fats! Yes, I said FAT.  The cells of our brain and nervous system are coated with phosphoLIPIDS. Lipids = fat. These phospholipids that coat your nerve cells help them to conduct information faster and more efficiently. All that we are doing is to facilitate neuroplasticity.  Neuroplasticity is the phenomenon where we generate new brain and nerve cells and make new connections and pathways that operate more efficiently.  There was a time when we believed that once brain tissue was damaged that was it! We thought that there was nothing that could be done.  But now we are recognizing that isn’t true. Not only can nervous tissue regenerate or compensate for damage or improper connections, the concept that there is a time limit or age cap on when that can happen is also outdated. So since we are rebuilding brain cells, let’s make sure we have good quality building blocks in place. One easy tip is to add a spoonful of coconut or MCT oil to your drink once a day and/or take a spoonful of good old fashion cod liver oil which is chock full of natural vitamin A, D and Omega 3! All great support for your immune system and calming systemic inflammation  Stay away from “low fat” food items. Low fat items typically have added salt and sugar and other chemicals to make it taste better so you will come back for more.

The other major consideration is getting an allergy test to know if there are specific foods that should be eliminated from the diet as that will help reduce inflammation.  There is also the infamous Gluten Free Casein Free diet and others. Gluten is the protein found in wheat and Casein is the protein found in dairy products.  It would take an entire post to explain all of the ins and outs but here is a brief explanation about gluten and there are links to helpful books and websites below.  SERIOUSLY considering weaning wheat and dairy from the diet for a trial period and see what improvements you notice. Many kids improve greatly after these common offenders are removed. Although nothing beats removing troublesome foods from your diet, you can add digestive enzymes to your regimen before you eat to breakdown your foods for better absorption and to decrease the impact of some of these proteins.

This is just a cursory introduction to things that you can start today to improve your overall health and brain function.  There is so much more!  Take a look around our site and check out our Pinterest page on “A”mazing Kids for more tips and info, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter as we post new, cutting edge medical research almost daily!

There are Doctors and laboratories that are specifically trained to help patients with Special Needs identify and treat the underlying medical issues so that all of the wonderful intervention therapies will get you farther, faster. We are here to help!

Dr. Maia on TV talking about nutrition and autism. Watch it here!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

Questions, Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • You ARE what you eat. “All disease begins in the gut”
  • The cells that line your brain are identical to the cells that line your intestines and they “talk” to each other.
  • Organic fruits and veggies and clean, healthy fats are good building blocks for our brain.

Helpful Resources

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream….

Got sleep? Most of us don’t. And whoever coined the term “sleep like a baby” CLEARLY never met my kids! #funnynotfunny. On our journey to health one of my goals was to get solid, refreshing sleep every night again. Thankfully we have arrived! Let me share with you how…

Perhaps my story is a bit unique. I was always a rather light sleeper but Medical School and Residency put a nail in the proverbial coffin. I trained back when working 36 hour days was common place. YES, 36 hour days. We would go in at 6am and not go home until after 6pm the NEXT day. Depending what department you were working in that could mean you didn’t have much opportunity to sit down let alone lie down during that time frame. I do NOT miss that aspect of training to say the least. It took me almost a year after I finished training to even find out how much sleep my body actually needed. Then I got married and had kids. Oy vey!

My sweet Bunny was okay for the first few months and would only wake up at night to nurse and typically go right back to sleep but daytime naps?! Fuhgeddaboudit! Few and far between and WAY too short for my taste.

Sweet little BeBe was an AWESOME sleeper. He was the baby that made you think you could have a hundred babies. Then at about 2yo or so they both went left! I was always so on edge that I never fully relaxed into sleep thinking one of them would pop up and come scampering in our room at any moment.   It became clear that my sweet BeBe’s body clock and rhythm were just unpredictably and inexplicably off! The cost of raising a baby genius is sometimes their brains just won’t. turn. off.

There are several things that you can do to encourage restful, restorative sleep.  We were already doing all of the typical bedtime routine recommendations by the book to no avail so we looked for more.  A balanced, whole food based diet rich in fresh veggies and fruit and all of their beneficial nutrients and anti-oxidants is essential. If you don’t think your meeting the mark of the recommended 5-9 fruits and veggies a day, consider filling in the gaps with a whole food based supplement like Juice Plus.

We also started adding Epsom Salt to their bath every night. The magnesium causes a relaxation response and also helps the liver sulfate and remove toxins from the body (great addition during cold and flu season for that reason, too). If you find that you are consistently popping up at 3 – 4am, it could be due to your liver being overwhelmed with clearing all of the toxins that we are confronted with daily.

I started dabbling in essential oils, too. Lavender, chamomile, and geranium essential oils seemed to be the most helpful in facilitating restful sleep. Make sure that you get genuine essential oils and not just a fragrance.  For more info read this.  You can add a few drops of them to the Epsom Salt that you put in in the bathtub or use a diffuser near bed time to signal to the brain that it’s time to wind down. White noise machines with pleasant ocean waves and the like can help lull you to sleep.  Reducing exposure to bright, blue wave lights from TVs, cellphones and the like near bed time can be helpful but also adding red or magenta colored night lights helps to encourage a relaxed state. Red or magenta tones are the colors you “see” in utero as a fetus floating around in your mother’s womb. Red or magenta night lights help mimic that peaceful nurturing environment.

Believe it or not, probiotics can also be quite helpful. Serotonin (a neurotransmitter that impacts mood) is actually produced in your gut! So if your gut is inflamed or the good bacteria in your gut is not present in good numbers, that can impact your ability to adequately produce serotonin (low serotonin can also contribute to depression by the way). Serotonin THEN has to travel to the brain where it is converted by the pineal gland to melatonin which signals to the brain that it is time to sleep.  So if your gut isn’t producing enough serotonin, then your brain won’t get the melatonin signal to shut it down for the night. So you see – all things do seem to begin in the gut!

If you find that you are still having trouble, consider seeing an Integrative Doctor that can do a simple, non-invasive test like a urine OATS test to look for hormones,  neurotransmitters, and metabolites or by-products of physiological processes to see if there is evidence of nutritional deficiencies for which natural supplementation would be useful.

Good, restful, restorative sleep is essential to child development, learning and just having a foothold on a good day in the morning. Here’s to you on the road to rest!

Happy Healthy Living (and sleeping)!

Until next time….

Questions, Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • A balanced whole food based diet rich in antioxidants helps encourage restful sleep
  • Epsom Salt baths and the magnesium therein can help relax you and help your liver clear toxins from the day
  • Red or Magenta night lights help induce a relaxed state
  • Probiotics can support your gut’s production of serotonin so your  brain can convert it to melatonin to signal that it’s time to shut it down for the night

What’s For Dinner?! Picky Eater Problems

If you have a child that is just a little stubborn or persnickety, then this likely isn’t for you. If, however, you have a child (or an adult for that matter) that just REFUSES certain foods after you have tried everything short of letting them starve with the hopes that if they get hungry enough they will finally eat to no avail, then listen up! It may NOT be all in their head! Your picky eater may very well have a medical issue that needs to be addressed by the appropriate professional.

There are several reasons why your child may be avoiding certain foods.  If there is a theme to their refusal, that may give you some clues as to what the problem may be.  For instance, do they seem to avoid foods with strong or distinct odors? or do they always smell their food before they try it?, then there may be a sensory processing issue that is causing an aversion to smells. This can be evaluated and addressed by a well trained Occupational Therapist.

Do they seem to avoid certain textures? For example, do they seem to only like soft foods like things made from ground meat like spaghetti, chili, well cooked vegetables? or they just “can NOT” swallow pills to save their life? It might not be an issue of just mind over matter. There could be a texture aversion and/or an oral motor coordination problem.  We sometimes take for granted that everyone knows how to shift the food to the back of the mouth so that the molars can properly grind the food and then move the food back to the back of the tongue and then swallow it.  Infants have a reverse swallow that facilitates breastfeeding but as they mature so should their swallow.  If it doesn’t, I’m sure that you can imagine what it must be like to get food (or pills) to go down your throat if your tongue keeps pushing things forward instead.  Hence, the preference for super soft foods that are easy to try to slide down the chute backwards. Also, bear in mind that gastroesophageal reflux can sometimes coexist with an oral motor/swallow problem or just be the culprit in and of itself. Be sure to consider that as well. Again, a well trained Occupational or Speech Therapist – especially one that specializes in oral-motor coordination or myofunctional (muscle function) issues may be able to evaluate all of these problems and help if needed.

Another sometimes subtle issue could be food allergies or intolerances.  If your tummy hurt overtime you ate cheese for instance, you don’t have to a rocket scientist to decide that eating cheese isn’t such a good idea…Your physician can order simple blood tests to evaluate for this possibility with just one needle stick versus the VERY uncomfortable skin prick tests. Start keeping a journal of the foods or food groups that are being avoided and bring that with you to the appointment to help hash out which food panels should be ordered and any foods or ingredients that may need to be added to customize  the standard panels.

Of course, if none of these ring true for your family, then stick with the good old “tricks” to get more buy in from your picky eater when it comes to meal time. Remember, small children have control over two things – what goes in, and what comes out! Sometimes they say ‘no!’ just for the sake of saying no. Try not to get in a power struggle with a young toddler. If you’re fighting with a small child about something iso basic, then you may have already lost. Besides, it’s just not a good look.

Where age appropriate include them in the grocery shopping selection or food preparation. Offer two reasonable choices before you prep the food when possible.  ‘Would you like peas or broccoli for dinner tonight?’ “PEAS!”  I call that a win-win. The kid feels like that have a little power/choice, and they’re eating something green. Score!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

 

Questions, Comments?! Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

 

Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt! Or Do They?!

 

Have you ever noticed that equipment at playgrounds today doesn’t move?! AT ALL?! Well THAT is a problem. Kids today are NOT getting enough movement. It’s bad enough that some schools have eliminated PE and shortened recess to next to nothing. Then we add insult to injury and expect kids to sit still in hard chairs all day at younger and younger ages. KIDS NEED TO MOVE.  That’s why they are fidgeting in their seats incessantly by the end of the day.  Movement and play facilities normal growth and development of their neurological and musculoskeletal systems.  Too many kids today are lacking in those areas.

Remember see-saws or spinning around and around and around on the carousel? Well, that stimulated the vestibular system in your brain which controls and develops your sense of balance.  Swings do the same thing with the benefit of an awesome core workout to boot! Fortunately swings haven’t been completely put out to pasture at playgrounds yet.

Due to a more litigious society and risk of liability I guess playgrounds have become more and more static (and stagnant) over the years.  But what about Four Square or Patty-Cake? Do kids play those types of games anymore? Cheering? All of these develop strength, timing, coordination, and sequencing.

But wait…There’s more! More and more kids are becoming myopic (near-sighted) as well due to spending too much time on electronic devices and not enough time outdoors looking at things far away!

All is not lost. We just have to make a deliberate effort to shut down all of our electronics and play! Make it a family or group activity. Go outside – weather permitting – and move something! Splash in the rain puddles! Build a snowman or have a good ole snowball fight! Find an indoor playground or trampoline gym when the weather truly isn’t on your side. Get creative and play some of the games that you did as child. Joggle your memory a bit and let loose your inner child. Fun will be had by all!

Enjoy!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time….

 

Take Home Tidbits

  • Kids need movement for proper development
  • Kids are becoming near-sighted from not going outside and looking at things far away

Helpful Resources

Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, Invigorates the Soul

The Toddler’s Busy Book

Questions or Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!!

What exactly is a fever and why does it matter?  Over the years I have had parents come in with kids that were sent home from school for a “fever of 99”.  M’kay….. aaand? and that was it! no other symptoms or complaints. SO! Let’s talk about what a fever actually is and why we care….

Firstly, normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (plus or minus one degree) or 37 degrees Celsius.  The accuracy of the temperature will vary depending on where you take the temperature.  Your core temperature is most accurate and that can be taken rectally or orally.  When taking it orally, you need to be sure the probe is all the way under the tongue so that the reading is as accurate as possible which can be difficult in a little squirmy person. Outside of infancy checking the temperature rectally may not be the most comfortable option for both parties involved. So that leaves axillary (armpit), ear or forehead/temple areas.  There are lots of handy dandy electrical thermometers that can get a quick read if you’ve got a moving target like we did with BeBe.  Be mindful that your reading can be off a degree or so if you do check in one of those areas.  The instruction manual for your thermometer should be able to help you determine how much. Either which way once you start reaching 100.3 and above you’re getting into the fever zone. Now! why does that matter?!

A fever is ACTUALLY a part of your immune system’s defense mechanisms.  Most viruses and bacteria are able to thrive and replicate rapidly at your normal body temperature. When your immune system is out patrolling and notices a foreign invader is trying to wreak havoc on your body, it sends out signals to recruit back up. These signals are chemical mediators that beckon more immune cells to mature and differentiate to fight the infection at hand.  These chemical mediators also signal the thermostat in your body to raise the temperature in an attempt to make your body less inhabitable for the infection trying to take over. So mounting a fever in some ways is a good thing.  However, in the very young and very old it may be a cause of concern because often times when you don’t feel well, your appetite may decrease. As a result you may also drink less and dehydration becomes a risk which can be dangerous in the very young and very old.  Also, when you have a fever, you sweat and lose fluid that way. The best time to try to encourage eating or drinking is about 30-45min after reducing the fever as this is when they will feel a bit better and be more willing to eat or drink.

When people ask me what temperature should be cause for alarm, I typically tell them there isn’t really a set number.  We have to look at the whole picture.  I’m likely to be more concerned about the child with a fever of 101 or so that looks like they’ve been hit by a truck versus the kid with a 103 running around and playing.  Having said that once we get to 104 and definitely 105 and/or the temperature (and child) isn’t responding to the appropriate dosing of a fever reducer, then it’s time to take them in to get checked. If there are other symptoms of distress like difficulty breathing, or lethargy, or something “just isn’t right”, you know your kid so take them in to get checked. it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Temperatures typically spike in the afternoon or evening RIGHT when your Doctor’s office is closing. BUT there is always help out there for you. Your insurance card may have a Nurse advice hotline phone number that you can call for advice or recommendations on what to do. Also, your Doctor’s office will have an after hours operator that can direct your call to the Doctor or Nurse on call that night. They give you advice and recommend things that you can do at home to help, and/or recommend that your child be seen and if it’s something that can wait until morning or if it needs to be addressed immediately.

It is typical to have a fever for 3-4 days with a run of the mill viral infection.  AND as I mentioned it’s also typical for it to spike up in the evening or over night but go back down during the day only to pop back up again that evening. Don’t be alarmed unless there are new symptoms or the symptoms seem to be getting worse and not better.  Once we are on day 4 and still dealing with fever, take your child in to get checked.  Even if you went on day 1 and the Doctor said “oh it’s just a virus”, take them back in for a recheck. Viruses can sometimes be a gateway for a secondary infection like an ear infection, for example. Also, things can progress and change literally overnight. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it can’t hurt to get it rechecked.

Also be mindful that HYPOthermia (low temperature) can be just as – if not more – significant in the very young and very old. If the temperature is 97 or below, take them in to be seen immediately.  Sometimes in the very young and very old population, their immune systems may respond by DROPPING the temperature so don’t dilly dally and get them checked.

Don’t forget that taking a lukewarm (not cold) bath can also help reduce a fever.  Throwing a little Epsom Salt in the tub will help with any aches and pains that can come along with that fever. Drink plenty of fluids and rest! This too shall pass….

canstockphoto1362592

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time….

Take Home Tidbits

  • Normal body temperature is 98.6F plus or minus a degree.
  • Oral and rectal temperatures are most accurate so adjust according to your thermometer’s instructions if you take the temperature in another location.
  • Fever for 3 days or so is typical with a virus.
  • Fevers tend to spike in the evening and overnight.
  • HYPOthermia (low temperature) is concerning in the very young and very old.
  • Things that you can do to boost the immune system – probiotics, and colostrum.

Questions? Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Anyone?!

You MAY have heard of it and it’s making its rounds right about now. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is caused most commonly by the Coxsackie A Virus type 16.  It tends to rear its ugly head in the fall. It causes painful ulcers in the mouth (especially in the back near your tonsils) and similar lesions on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, and on occasion the buttocks or groin area.  This infection typically impacts small children and kids less than 10 years old but infrequently, depending on which strain of the virus it is, adults can suffer, too. Most cases are short lived but because its comes from the same family of viruses as polio, then on rare occasion weakness and muscle soreness can occur with some of the less common Coxsackie Virus strains.

The illness has an incubation period of about a week (which means you’ve been hosting this unwelcomed guest for about a week before you feel any symptoms).  It typically involves a low grade fever for 1 – 2 days, painful ulcers in the mouth for 3 – 5 days,  and a distinctive rash for up to 7-10 days. The rash does NOT itch. This can help you distinguish it from chicken pox. You can shed the virus in your stool for WEEKS after the illness resolves so once again say it with me… WASH. YOUR. HANDS! You share the joy through the fecal-oral route so good hand washing after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper is paramount. You can also pass the infection on by contact with the skin lesions or oral secretions.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Coxsackie A Virus type 16.

In general it tends to look a lot worse than it is.  However, in small children with the painful ulcers in their mouths, refusal to eat and drink can cause a risk of dehydration which is particularly dangerous in the very young and old.  For this reason staying hydrated is important.  Stay clear of spicy or salty foods as that may exacerbate the pain.  Also, stick with soft and/or cool foods (mashed potatoes, popsicles, etc) for the same reason.  If need be, use fever and pain reducers to keep younger kiddos more comfortable until this passes.  Epsom Salt baths can help reduce the discomfort of general aches and pains and can help the little ones relax and get some sleep at night and bring down their temperature a bit. The good news is this too, shall pass.  Time and TLC will take care of it.

When in doubt, contact your Pediatrician’s advice line for guidance on what to do and when and if you should bring your child in for an evaluation.  In the meantime give comfort care, probiotics to gird up the immune system, and rest, wash those hands, and wipe down those toys and surfaces to try to keep the infection form spreading!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

Take Home Tidbits

  • Hand Foot and Mouth Disease is common in the spring and fall seasons.
  • Stay away from spicy, salt or hard foods as the mouth sores are quite painful
  • It is contagious via stool, oral secretions, and skin lesions
  • The rash doesn’t itch which can help you distinguish it from chicken pox

Questions or Comments? Post them below!

The Doctor is in!

Busy Bodies and “A”mazing Kids

Struggling with ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia or Dyspraxia?! These are all nuerodevelopmental disorders that can be dramatically improved and corrected with the proper BIOMEDICAL intervention and therapy – NOT pills.
One struggle that I had in private practice was explaining to parents, patients, AND professionals that medication is NOT the treatment for these disorders. After a PROPER evaluation, if indicated, then a medication can be used to give you a window of opportunity to grasp your attention while utilizing other modalities that actually treat the PROBLEM – not just the symptoms. Especially now with data showing that there may be an increased risk of drug abuse in the future if you take these medications, it would behoove you to find a better way.
As a parent I’ve learned a lot more about even more modalities to treat these issues. Let’s Dive in…..
Firstly, you ARE what you eat! If your gut is inflamed and leaky due to poor dietary choices or food sensitivities (that you may not even realize that you have), it WILL affect your brain’s ability to function. Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut” THOUSANDS of years ago. There is plenty of evidence now proving that – all the way down to specific probiotics that affect certain brain functions like speech for instance. Also, for all of the naysayers – hold on to your hats – The Vagus nerve is a HUGE nerve that comes right off of the brain stem and controls automatic functions of the upper 2/3 of your intestinal tract. If what you eat and probiotics don’t matter, riddle me this… why then is 75% of the vagus nerve made up of Afferent nerves meaning that 75% of the vagus nerve takes information FROM the gut BACK up to the brain?! Think about that for a minute… I’ll wait…..

ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia help
There are also plenty of studies proving the additives and coloring of foods have an excitatory effect on your nervous system.

Eating clean, organic food that isn’t processed along with taking good quality probiotics is a great start. Removing some of the common offenders like gluten (wheat protein) and processed dairy and getting a PROPER food SENSITIVITY panel test (NOT simply a celiac disease test – big difference) can help immensely. Working closely with a highly trained developmental or biomed physician can help you wade through specific evaluations and nutritional supplements tailored to your needs would be very helpful support for this process.

In medical school we are taught about primitive or newborn reflexes. You know, make a loud noise around a new baby and their arms flail out to the sides as a startle reaction briefly then they calm down and that’s it, right?! Wrong! We are simply taught that you are born with a set of immature neurological reflexes that should extinguish by about 6 months of age and are only relevant again if there is a brain injury to determine the extent of the damage. You may have seen it in a movie or TV show – the Doctor swipes up the bottom of the comatose patient’s foot and if the big toe goes up? Uh oh!  Well, there is SO much more to it than that!!! If that startle or Moro reflex doesn’t extinguish or integrate properly, then your visual tracts won’t mature correctly and being able to track letters as you read across a page or switching back from reading the board at school and then back down to your paper to write will be VERY difficult to say the least.

Another key one is the spinal or galant reflex. If you turn a new baby face down on your palm and gently stroke down the side of their spine, their back/behind will curl over to that side and vice versa. If that doesn’t extinguish properly, then you expect a child to sit in a hard back chair all day at school, guess what?! That chair is constantly hitting their backs and causes a REFLEXIVE movement in their back – meaning they CAN’T control that wiggling!!  A pill WON’T fix that. Proper integration of the reflex will.

It’s just like when a Doctor taps your knee with a reflex hammer and your lower leg kicks out – you can’t control that either- its a reflex! There are a myriad of learning or developmental difficulties that can be attributed to poorly integrated reflexes – poor handwriting? emotional outbursts? social awkwardness? motion sickness? clumsy? bump into and/or drop things a lot? difficulty focusing and paying attention? poor/ slow speech development or pronunciation? reflux? the list goes on and on…

Your best bet is to find a qualified practitioner (likely a specially trained Occupational Therapist or perhaps a Pediatric Chiropractor) in your area that can specifically evaluate and treat retained primitive reflexes.  You have to specifically ask if reflex integration is what they do. One thing that I’ve learned is that all therapy isn’t equal. Some therapists go the extra mile and receive additional training in specific areas and techniques after they finish the standard education and training. ALL therapists aren’t even aware of this phenomenon, let alone know how to treat it. I’ve been fortunate enough to discover wonderful professionals that “get it” right in my own backyard! They are few and far between but they are out there!

These reflexes can be gently integrated by doing simple exercises daily under the guidance of a highly trained professional that specializes in this process and follows you closely and adjusts the exercises as needed.  I’ve listed a few books below that explain this more in-depth below to get you started. Feel free to comment or ask questions below…

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time….

Questions? Comments? Let me know below. The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • Medication is NOT the TREATMENT for ADHD.
  • Medication can give you a window of opportunity to institute the correct therapies .
  • Primitive/Newborn Reflexes that do not integrate properly can cause a myriad of learning and behavioral difficulties.

Helpful Resources

The Symphony of Reflexes: Interventions for Human Development, Autism, ADHD, CP, and Other Neurological Disorders

Reflexes, Learning and Behavior: A Window Into A Child’s Mind: A Non-Invasive Approach To Solving Learning and Behavior Problems

Gut and Psychology Syndrome : Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, ADD, Dyslexia, ADHD, Depression, and Schizophrenia

Beauty IS More than Skin Deep

I’ve been asked a lot lately about several skin conditions like acne and eczema and if I have any products that will help. Although we have a few products coming down the pipeline, I think it is prudent to explain what you can do from a holistic stand point TODAY.  It doesn’t much matter what you slap on top of your skin to fix a problem (which is really just a symptom of something deeper oftentimes) without fixing the real underlying problem – the inside! The old adage “you are what you eat” is SO true! Many skin ailments begin on the inside. Remember last week we talked about how the skin is actually the largest organ in the body? and how it absorbs and excretes things? Well let’s dig deeper.

Recent research has shown that ailments like asthma, allergies and eczema (all three ride on the same gene) and even psoriasis can be improved with taking probiotics. Why is that you ask? Many chronic illnesses with immune system or inflammatory issues actually begin in the gut just like Hippocrates said!

All disease begins in the gut.

So we talked briefly before about gluten and leaky gut.  So here we are again.  Allergic or inflammatory responses like eczema and psoriasis can find their root in your gut.  If you have the typical Western or American diet, then likely all of the (genetically modified) additives have poked microscopic holes in the lining of your gut and caused an imbalance in the bacteria that line your intestines.  Recolonizing your gut with the good bacteria it needs from fermented foods and high quality probiotics can help. Taking colostrum can also help plug those holes in your leaky gut as well.  When you have a leaky, improperly functioning gut, partially or improperly digested food particles can slip straight into your bloodstream through the gaps that are created in between your intestinal cells by this unhealthy environment.

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These molecules are recognized by your immune system as foreign invaders and attacks them.  The problem is that your now overactive immune system also attacks your own healthy tissue by mistake – including your skin.  In addition, as we mentioned earlier your skin excretes and absorbs things.  When your liver (which typically helps filter and clean your blood of undesirables along with your kidneys) becomes overloaded, the skin takes the hit as things spill over into the blood stream in uncontrollable amounts. The consequences can be eczema, psoriasis, acne, and hives among other things. One thing that you can do to help is adding Epsom Salt to your bath water. The magnesium sulphate is absorbed directly through your skin and gives your liver the cofactor it needs to help with the excretion of toxins via a sulfation process.  It will also help calm the itching.  If you can’t stop to take a bath try soaking a clean cloth in warm (not hot) water with Epsom salt dissolved in it and apply it to the rash. Don’t apply to broken skin that has been scratched raw as the salt may cause a stinging sensation. Be sure not to bathe in hot, hot water as heat causes histamine to be released from your immune cells and will aggravate itching. Hence, the use of anti-histamines to treat allergies (anti means “against” or “opposite of” so an anti-histamine medication works “against” the release of histamine to reduce or prevent itching).

One other thing to consider is not using harsh soaps. In fact, try to refrain from lathering your whole body and taking prolonged showers or baths as that disrupts the protective lining and probiotics that naturally coat your skin.  I’ll tell you like I tell my kids “Get in, get the good parts, and get out!”  Of course, they don’t always listen as they LOVE to play in the tub but I try.  That’s part of the reason that I created my own Body Wash without the harsh Sodium Laurel Sulfates and the like so as to minimize the damage to our skin. I also load their bathwater up with Epsom salt to boot.  Infants (especially newborns) and very young children don’t need baths everyday by the way. They don’t have developed sweat glands like adults that cause odor yet. (Put a pin in that topic for another day). So unless they’ve had an extensive day of outdoor play in the hot sun, it’s okay to skip a day especially in the cooler months when eczema symptoms can be more intense. Now if they smell like the “great outdoors” after a day of play, of course, give them a bath.  But if not, don’t stress about it.

Be Mindful – Herxheimer Reaction

Be aware but don’t panic! Sometimes as you begin a new regimen, your skin symptoms may sometimes appear to worsen briefly before they get better. This is a phenomenon known as the Herxheimer or die-off reaction.  As the new, good bacteria starts to squeeze out the old, the old bugs will die and release some toxins which have to go somewhere. If your liver is overloaded, the toxins will exit through your skin. This may appear as an increase in your original symptoms or new rashes.  You may also feel a general sense of ‘blah’ and maybe even joint or generalized aches and pains.  Have no fear – this, too, shall pass.  If you can push through the discomfort (consider slowing down on your new regimen for a few days if it becomes too much) and drink plenty of clean water, then life will be better on the other side! Applying coconut oil to those areas of your skin rash flare -ups can help.  If you mix in a little lavendar or Teatree oil with the coconut oil that may help even more. Coconut oil is antiseptic and anti-bacterial and also helps kill yeast which is one of the main culprits in eczema.

canstockphoto23765846Cleaning up your diet  (and personal care products) and removing processed foods by sticking to organic vegetables, fruits, fats, and meats (in that order) is a great first step.  Daily probiotic use, drinking clean water, and even juicing can take you to the next level of health. We will go into more detail about juicing in the future – it’s more than just a fad. Awesome things can happen when you add it to your healthy lifestyle. Can’t wait to chat about it later!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…..

Questions? Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in….

The Name Game

A few weeks ago we talked about “What’s in a Name?!” where we focused on food labels and what they meant.  This week let’s focus on personal care products and how to shop wisely.

First and foremost, don’t be fooled by packaging.  Often times the same old players will catch wind of the newest trendy oil or ingredient and simply change the color of their packaging to green and scrawl “NATURAL” all over the bottle (even though we now know that the word natural means nothing).  Then they print in bold letters the name of the latest trendy ingredient.  Please know that could mean they put a drop of the new thing in a huge vat of their same ole chemical laden formula, make it pretty, jack the price up, place it strategically in the store, and rake in the dough!  Don’t fall for it! If “natural” isn’t what that company was founded on, “natural” is likely not what they are really doing….

While working on production for our next lavender based product line a friendly healthcare worker overheard the conversation and belted out “oh that’s that stuff that has all these babies coming in our office with rashes!”  I politely asked “what stuff?!”  She went on about the big purple bottle of ‘nighttime’ baby wash and lotion that bears a household name. I smiled and thought to myself “I’d bet money there isn’t one drop of lavender in there”.  Sure enough we pulled it up online and for starters, the first ingredient is WATER! If you don’t know, that matters because the ingredients are listed in order by volume.  That means that water makes up the largest component of what is in that bottle for which you’re overpaying. The rest of the ingredients were nothing that any average person can even read, let alone pronounce! I have a degree in Chemistry and I still paused to dust off those brain cells in the back of my mind that haven’t been used lately to read it! The last and final ingredient was PARFUM! Case closed!! You just bought overpriced, chemical laden water with PARFUM.  Parfum or simply (synthetic) fragrance have NO therapeutic effect! so even though it may smell remotely like lavender it will do NOTHING to relax or calm anyone, most especially after your immune system goes berserk trying to process all those chemicals you just slapped on!

perfume-1468091Authentic essential oils have been scientifically proven to have therapeutic effect on your mind, body and psyche. Parfum? not so much!

Why does any of this matter?  We forget sometimes that the skin is the largest organ in the body and we absorb what we apply. How else would deodorant work if that weren’t the case?

Let’s dive into some of the chemicals and why we should be concerned…

Here are just a few of the usual suspects.

Parabens (paraben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben)

Parabens are VERY commonly used preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products like lotions and deodorants (remember that). It is widely known that they are hormone disruptors but they also STIMULATE CANCER CELLS. Well, remember I just mentioned deodorant? About 90% of breast cancers occur in the upper outer quadrant (the part closest to the armpit). Your deodorant could be a large part of the problem.  Then there is also the aluminum factor but that is a topic for another day.

 

Lead and Heavy Metals (???)

These are typically contaminants and, therefore, may not even be listed in the ingredients but still commonly found in lipsticks and other cosmetics like foundation. Developmental delays and frank mental retardation, hormone and general organ disruption are some of the biggest concerns. Guess what? If you used any of these items before or during pregnancy, then your kid(s) were exposed, too! They absorb what you are exposed to via the umbilical cord while you’re pregnant.

 

Petroleum Jelly

Did you catch that? PETROLeum jelly. PETROL = GASOLINE.  You heard me correctly! The same source of oil that creates gasoline for your car is what you are slathering on your lips everyday!

 

Formaldehyde (Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and others)

Used in many industries (including morgues for preserving dead bodies) and can also be found in baby personal care products. Cancer and skin irritation are the major concerns.  Also be mindful that it is also used to fix the dyes found in clothes so the colors are brighter so ALWAYS wash new clothes before you wear them the first time – especially for our little ones.

Phthalates (phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance)

Commonly used in cosmetics and lotions and can also disrupt hormones, fertility, and contribute to cancer risk and a host of other issues.

 

Talc (Talcum powder, Cosmetic Talc)

Commonly found in “baby powders”, feminine hygiene products. Recently recognized as a causative factor in ovarian cancer.

 

pexels-photo-6So start reading your labels. If you can’t read or pronounce it, you may want to think twice. This is why I went through so much to create products that I feel comfortable using and using on my kids. My husband blinked and I had turned my side of the garage into a literal apothecary! I began reaching out to organic wholesalers and farmers and started concocting personal care products to use so that I knew EXACTLY what sweet little BeBe & Bunny were absorbing. I even started making toothpaste! I’m not playing around! There’s a reason why there has been such an uptick in chronic illnesses that our parents and grandparents generations didn’t see. Check your Pantry and your Powder Room. The culprits could be lurking in there….

 

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…..

Take home Tidbits

  • Don’t fall for marketing traps and pretty new bottles or labels
  • Your skin absorbs what you put on it
  • Water is likely the first ingredient in a lot of your personal care products
  • If you can’t read the labels of your personal care products, you probably should be using them

Helpful Resources

Sweet Cheeks Personal Care Products by Mommy Made, M.D.

Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

Substances Listed in the Thirteenth Report on Carcinogens

Fragrance allergens in cosmetic products

Safe Cosmetics

Please be sure to check out the informative video below. Questions or comments? Ask me comments sectionbelow.

The Doctor is in…

Cholesterol Does NOT Cause Heart Disease. INFLAMMATION Does….

There’s a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about cholesterol and its impact on our cardiovascular health. Eating good, clean fats in your diet is NOT bad for you. In fact, elevated cholesterol levels in elderly people actually INCREASES life span and DECREASES the risk of cognitive decline and dementia like Alzheimer’s Disease. Recent studies show that consuming 1 tablespoon of coconut oil daily can slow the progression of and even reverse the signs of Alzheimer’s. Think about it – cells of the brain are lined with phospholipids. Did you catch that? phospho-LIPIDS. Lipids=FAT. Phospholipids that coat all of your nerve cells help increase the conduction of nerve impulses down the nerve cells so that they can communicate with each other and your muscle cells more efficiently and more rapidly.  Side bar – cholesterol is also necessary to produce all of your sex hormones like testosterone. So if your loved one is suffering from “Low T” and taking supplements for it, you may want to revisit what your having for dinner tonight. ?

Now on to this inflammation. I hear you saying “but I don’t have any inflammation”. If you eat the typical American or western diet, NEWSFLASH – yes you do. We were taught for so long to eat “low fat” – translation high additive diets – and to eat fake chemical-laden margarine instead of real butter and to use vegetable oils to cook. ALL of those things contribute to inflammation.  Typically “low fat” food items have added salt, sugar and chemicals to enhance the taste so that you will eat it. These additives are huge part of what is causing our dramatic increase in health problems in our society today.

Recently the American Heart Association released that they were lowering the dietary sugar intake recommendations for kids because of the association with heart disease. THEN the American Medical Association published in their newsletter that back in the 1960s ‘scientists were paid to minimize the effect of sugar by the sugar industry on heart disease and to play up saturated fats and blaming fats for heart disease’. So the truth is that sugar is to blame and has been all along!!  I have known this for years and I’ve tried to explain this over and over again to close friends and family – some listened and some didn’t – that we’ve all been hoodwinked. I’m so glad that this information has finally come to light.

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Additionally if the label simply states sugar and not sugarcane then the source of the sugar is more likely genetically modified beet root than actual sugar. That doesn’t even consider the (genetically modified) high fructose corn syrup which is typically what is used as the main ingredient in most all processed foods these days. Too much to get into today but we will dive into that at another time as it’s very important to know what you’re eating and what it is really doing to you.  Also remember that simple carbs like bread convert rapidly into sugar once you eat it.  So remember that the next time you’re eating out and they bring you that infamous bread basket while you wait for your meal.

Of course, the best way to reduce inflammation, oxidation and free radicals is to eat a diet high in organic vegetables, fruits, clean fats, and protein – in that order. It’s best to stay away from  processed foods in general.  Anything in a box or bottle will likely have some of the common offenders present – even your salad dressing and sauces. So stay on your toes and stay on the perimeter of the grocery stores.  Pretty much everything that you need will be along the perimeter or outside walls of the grocery store – veggies, fruits, meats, eggs, dairy and out! Most of the stuff that is found on the aisles throughout the middle of the grocery store could possibly survive a nuclear war and has no business being eaten. canstockphoto11868540

By the way cooking with vegetable oils is actually a no-no for several reasons. I know, I know! That goes against everything we’ve been taught for the last few decades but hear me out! Remember what happened in the 1960s?! We have to renew our minds around that. Firstly, many vegetable oils are genetically modified. Find out why that matters here. Even that magical Olive Oil has likely been adulterated or mixed with other vegetable oils UNLESS the bottle clearly states otherwise. Secondly, vegetable oils oxidize when heated. It is this oxidation and the free radicals that it produces that causes microscopic damage to the lining of your blood vessels, joints, and other tissues.  That’s why there is all this hype now about eating, drinking, or taking anti-oxidants and their benefits. Anti-oxidants counteract oxidants or oxidation. The prefix anti- comes from the Latin word meaning “against” or “opposite of”. Anti-oxidants are great but if your consuming them on top of an inflammatory, oxidant filled diet, that’s like giving a whale a tic-tac! It won’t do as much as it would if you removed the culprit. 100% Olive oil is great on a cold salad where you would benefit from all of it’s wonderful properties but don’t heat it up! Other oils and fats that have higher smoke points (they can tolerate higher temperatures before oxidizing) are better to cook with like avocado, coconut, palm oil, or small amounts of grass fed butter or clarified ghee, organic tallow (beef fat), duck fat, nut based oils like peanut (if you’re not allergic), and others.

Other factors that you probably eat every day contribute to inflammation. Gluten. Yes, all of the hoopla is warranted. Let me briefly explain…. Even if you don’t have celiac disease or a documented gluten allergy, you could still be sensitive to the presence of gluten and its effects on your body as a whole. Here’s how. Normally the cells that line your intestines are tightly knitted together and there is a gate keeper, zonulin, that keeps those cells in line and close together.

Gluten (the protein found in wheat, flour, etc) acts directly on zonulin and forces the gap between your intestinal cells to widen.

f14-largeThis allows large, undigested molecules to slip straight into your blood stream unprocessed. These molecules aren’t supposed to be there so your body recognizes them as foreign invaders and deploys cells form your immune system to attack them.  The problem with that is that oftentimes these immune system cells fly around all willy nilly and cross react and attack your normal tissues and cause damage.  So if you’re suffering from allergies, auto-immune diseases (or they run in your family), or chronic aches and pains, you may SERIOUSLY want to consider removing gluten from your diet.  I will devote another post in the future with more detail about the hows and whys.

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In the meantime bring on the bacon!

(Organic, pasture raised, no nitrate added, no preservatives, uncured bacon in moderation?)

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time….

Take Home Tidbits

Helpful Resources

Sugar is the real culprit in heart disease

Plant based anti-oxidants can help prevent and even reverse heart disease

Lowering sugar intake in kids can help prevent the development of heart disease in the future

 

Comments or questions? Feel free to post them below.

 

The Doctor is in…