It’s time to stop blaming the child for the chronic issues that he cannot help.  It’s time to dig deeper than a simple diagnosis to something chronically plaguing your child.  It’s time to find the patterns, connect the dots, and look at the bigger picture.  It’s time to stop making excuses, and follow your instincts.

Calories do not equal nutrition.  Just because your child is eating meals does not make them healthy meals.  Store bought, shelved cereal, bread, waffles, granola bars, sandwiches, cookies, crackers, French fries, the list goes on and on…  these are not actually foods.  They are processed and filled with chemicals, artificial items, and absolutely nothing that benefits the body.  They are not just a filler though…  they are harming the body.

Even the perfect gut should not be consuming these items.

What happens when these chemicals, toxins, and other microbes overgrow in the digestive tract? They transform the gut from a source of nourishment to a source of toxicity. The food that comes along gets digested by this abnormal mass of bacteria, they convert it into hundreds of toxins that flow into the blood stream.  These toxins travel through the body affecting different individuals in different ways. If the brain of the child is clogged with toxicity, all of this sensory information cannot be processed properly.  This can symptomize as ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, just an emotional or overly strong-willed child. You may see eczema, bumps on the arms, or other rashes.  Your child may wet the bed, sleep horribly, or be overly tired. She may have a swollen gut, constipation or loose stool issues. The list of possibilities is pretty long, but it all connects to the health of the gut.

How you can help:

  • Cut the processed foods out – Read labels and skip boxed and bagged items with a shelf life longer than a week.
  • No food dyes – these should NEVER be consumed.
  • Stick with whole foods – organic or local meats, organic or fresh dairy items, organic fresh produce.  (Flash frozen works too!)
  • Think Simple – Don’t spend days on Pinterest.  Stick with 5-10 meals that everyone likes and rotate them.  Simple meals taste wonderful and are significantly cheaper to prepare than elaborate ones.

There will be a nasty die-off period of detoxing from the sugars and chemicals that the body has come to rely on.  A child may even seem worse for a brief amount of time before you see improvement.

The hardest part comes after this.  After surviving a toxic detox from a child.  This is when you will be able to start figuring out which REAL foods affect your child. You can opt for an IgG blood test, or you can follow a true elimination diet (I highly recommend the GAPS diet).  Once you have identified which foods trigger an inflammation of the gut (bringing back symptoms you have seen before or new ones), you will then begin to create a lifestyle full of all the foods your child responds well to!

“Don’t Eat Anything Your Great Grandmother Wouldn’t Recognize as Food.” 

Our kids are overfed and undernourished.

I suggest reading The Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride.  Through her research, she has determined a distinct correlation between unhealthy intestinal flora, poor digestion and toxicity from chemicals created by undigested foods, which can severely affect brain chemistry.

Note: Even if you were told your child was born with one these conditions, or that he was genetically predisposed, remember that in utero, a fetus is exposed to the gut flora of the mother.  Those bacteria become the foundation to his own gut health, which can be the very reason a doctor is telling you his ‘problems’ were inherited.

Signs Your Child Needs a Diet Change

This is a list of outward signs that the gut is in distress.  While there are several other possible signs, these are the most commonly seen and easy to relate to.  While every child is different, and how you will heal your child’s gut will vary from the next family, it is possible to alter the diet, eliminating the processed foods, dyes, and artificial sugars, and remove trigger foods.  The key is figuring out what your child’s trigger foods are.  If anything on this list jumps out at you, please look into closely following an elimination diet.

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  • Sporadic Emotions: High highs and low lows; sudden tantrums or more extreme tantrums than normal.

Research shows that essential fatty acids (specifically Omega3) aid the body in balancing emotions and keeping a stable feeling of contentment or happiness. The body is not able to create essential fatty acids on its own, so you have to get them from what you eat. There are two forms of EFAs (omega-3 and omega-6), and they are found in the membranes of every cell in the body.

  • Bed-wetting

One of the first ways the body excretes toxins is through urine.  When toxic urine comes into the bladder, it irritates and causes a chronic underlying inflammation in the mucous membranes of the bladder and urethra. As a result, the child does not have a chance to get to the bathroom – and may not even wake.  (Daytime urinating is more frequent)

  • Thrush/Yeast Infection

Most infants (and mothers) will experience this with breastfeeding, and almost everyone assumes it is just normal.  They use a natural yeast killer or take a prescription (which is then a double-headed sword! An unhealthy gut being fed an antibiotic!) and continue on without a second thought.  The truth is that the yeast is a sign of an unhealthy gut.

  • Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is related to the brains ability to process information and remain calm at the same time. Children with hyperactivity tend to have poor intestinal flora and digestion. Put down the prescription and pick up the GAPS book. A prescription is going to mask the symptoms while worsening the underlying issue.

  • Dry Skin, Rashes, Acne, Eczema, Cradle Cap, Dandruff

Fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are linked to keeping the skin moist.  But a diet rich in sugars and carbohydrates, processed/refined food, caffeine, alcohol, rancid oils and fats leads to skin irritations.  The gut is directly linked to the skin; heal the gut. Heal the skin.

  • Anxiety or Depression

While both anxiety and depression are thought to be neurological illnesses, the gut is linked directly to the brain. Studies have shown that inflammation may be involved in the development of depression. Depression is frequently associated with gastrointestinal inflammations and autoimmune diseases, all which can be treated through diet and gut repair.

  • Delayed Speech

B12 deficiency is linked to speech delays.  While increasing the natural sources (organic chicken and beef, wild caught fish) have your child tested before supplementing.  As speech is processed in the brain, the ‘wiring’ may not correctly connect due to an unhealthy gut.

  • Cavities

While sugary foods, or a bottle of sugary milk at bedtime can cause cavities, I am talking about chronic cavities.

Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist known for his theories on the relationship between teeth and nutrition, found that cavities resulted from a deficiency in proper minerals, and also a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins that are needed to absorb and assimilate the minerals.

  • Obesity

When we eat foods that aren’t nutrient dense, our bodies are hungry. The body becomes starved for good nutrition and that’s why you won’t feel satisfied when eating highly processed foods and/or foods devoid of nutrients. Our bodies were meant to feel satisfied with a balance of all foods.

  • Frequent Illness (Colds/Flus)

It is easy to blame childhood colds on school, playdates, or surrounding environments, but the truth is that healthy children don’t get sick.  A child with a healthy gut has the proper bacteria to increase immunity and is less susceptible to other children’s germs.  There’s something to be said about serving a homemade bowl of Grandma’s chicken soup to help you feel better.  Chances are that soup consisted of a bone broth simmered for days with local, fresh raised chicken or beef bones.  This explains why it actually made people feel better.

Research shows that iron and vitamin D deficiency are both common in children without showing obvious signs, but can be linked to many illnesses and chronic problems. These levels should be tested annually.