6 Surprising Signs Your Child May Have Digestive Issues

As published on Zhou Nutrition

All disease begins in the gut”—Hippocrates.

Research over the past 2 decades is finding that many chronic health conditions begin with the health of our digestive systems. In fact up to 80% of our immune systems is set within our digestive tract.

If the GI is not well maintained it can lead to a host of health issues. Supporting our digestive tract is fundamental to health. 

The GI system digests nutrients from foods to use for energy growth and cell repair. Nutrients are broken down into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are carried through the blood to cells throughout our bodies. A balance of good bacteria in the gut influences the intestinal immune responses and is critical for maintaining metabolic balance. Healthy digestion is crucial for making these steps play out.

Parents are surprised to learn that many of their child’s symptoms can actually be contributed to inflammation within their digestive system.

Some of These Symptoms Which May Be Traced Back to Imbalanced Digestion Are:

Inattentiveness

Inattention can be a result of food intolerance’s, hypothyroid or digestive inflammation. Determining the underlying issue is critical for determining the best treatment.

Trouble Falling and Staying Asleep

It is estimated that 20-30% of children have problems sleeping. Medications can be dangerous and throw off the body’s natural hormonal imbalance. Many times sleep issues can be related to a food sensitivity or imbalanced cortisol levels which can be related directly back to the health of the digestive tract.

Irritability/Aggressive

Anger and irritability are some of the most common reasons parents seek help for their children and are among the most common reason for psychiatric hospitalization. The symptoms are typically treated with medication, but there is an underlying cause remaining. Up to 90% of serotonin is made in the gut and specific microbes and vitamins such as B6 are needed and necessary for this to occur efficiently. If there is an imbalance, serotonin production is not adequate which will then lead to many mental health issues.

Trouble Gaining Weight

If there is inflammation in the digestive tract, nutrients will not be properly absorbed and growth can slow.

Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is all too common in children and adults. This can lead to vomiting, heartburn and stomach and chest discomfort. PPI’s, which are the typical treatment, can cause many other problems including significant vitamin and mineral deficiency leading to many other health issues. Finding the underlying cause (which is typically an intolerance to a specific food) is key to getting reflux under control.

Eczema

This can almost always be related to a food intolerance or inadequate intake of essential fatty acids. Many times, the food that is most intolerable with eczema is gluten.

If you are concerned that your child may have illnesses or a depressed immune system that could be leading back to proper and adequate digestion, it is best to have them sufficiently tested for food sensitivities and allergies. Once removing the problematic food, the body is able to begin to heal itself.

Nutrition should be individualized to promote the best optimal health.

References:
Brandão-Neto J, et. al, Zinc acutely and temporarily inhibits adrenal cortisol secretion in humans. A preliminary report., Biol Trace Elem Res. 1990 Jan;24(1):83-9
Paddock, Catharine, Gut microbes important for serotonin production, Medical News Today, April 2015,
Bonciolini V, et al. “Cutaneous Manifestations Of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: Clinical Histological And Immunopathological Features. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26389946
Campbell AW. Autoimmunity and the Gut. Autoimmune Diseases. 2014;2014:152428. doi:10.1155/2014/152428.
Holzer, P, Neuropeptides, Microbiota, and Behavior. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:67-89.
Maqsood R, The Gut-Brain Axis, BDNF, NMDA and CNS Disorders. Neurochem Res. 2016 Nov;41(11):2819-2835.

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