Zinc

Zinc

Zinc--a critical element for autism

Zinc is detrimental in the nutritional healing process of autism, ADHD or other behavioral condition.

It is known to play a vital role in neonatal development and is involved in countless metabolic and signaling pathways within the body.

One of the many critical roles of zinc is in gastrointestinal function and gut-brain interaction. There is indication in some research that zinc deficiency among mothers during pregnancy can play a role in the development of gastrointestinal functions of infants/children.

Zinc is critically important for neurotransmitter production, thyroid function and hormone balancing.

Zinc has been found to improve cognition in children with autism and ADHD as well as lessen hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Zinc has also been found to play an important role in sensory integration as well as taste and smells with food. Because of this, zinc supplementation can sometimes be very beneficial in getting extremely picky eaters to try new foods.

Having zinc and copper serum levels checked are proving to be very helpful in knowing the right amount of supplementation to acquire. Zinc and copper ratios have shown in research to be a major indicator of severity of autism.

Studies indicate that zinc and copper have a huge impact on GABA neurotransmitters as well as mercury accumulation in bodily tissues.

The highest amounts of zinc are found most abundantly in oysters, lentils, and green peas. Absorption from food is typically only about 33% in healthy adults, which makes supplementation necessary in many individuals.

Zinc supplementation is also typically necessary to pull someone out of a deficient state. The recommended daily dose is 12-15mg for healthy individuals but may need more depending on signs, symptoms and nutritional status.

Speak to your healthcare provider or Clinical Nutritionist to have a better understanding of yours or your child’s individual needs.

 

 

Shawna Kunselman, MSACN

Contact me for more information

 

 

 

References:

 

Bjourklund, G. , The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders,Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2013;73(2):225-36.,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23823984

 Guillermo Vela, Zinc in Gut-Brain Interaction in Autism and Neurological Disorders, Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 972791, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/972791

Babaknejad N, The Relationship between Zinc Levels and Autism: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis., Iran J Child Neurol. 2016 Fall;10(4):1-9.

 

 

Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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sun

Vitamin D and Behaviors

Vitamin D and Autism

New research is showing that up to 75% of children on the autism spectrum show significant improvement with high dose Vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D levels are very often significantly lower in children with autism and ADHD.

Vitamin D has many vital roles in our body, including enhancing intestinal absorption of other critical nutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphate and Zinc. Vitamin D is also very involved with immune function and regulating the inflammatory response within the body.

Vitamin D deficiency has been proven to play a role in many conditions such as autoimmune and behavioral disorders.

Unfortunately, very few foods contain Vitamin D. It is pretty limited to Wild Caught fish (salmon), mushrooms and some shellfish as well as fortified milk. Most of our Vitamin D supply is meant to come from the sun.

Recommended intakes for infants and children vary from 400IU to 1000IU per day depending on specific needs of the child.

However, higher doses are many times warranted for certain conditions and when deficiency is known.

Serum (blood) Vitamin D levels are very important to know prior to supplementing and should be checked again after about 6 months of supplementing. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for the 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. According to research, ideally levels should be at least 45ng/ml.

Reports and research shows that there appears to be better cognition, focus, and eye contact in autism spectrum disorders and ADHD as vitamin D levels are normalized.

 

 

 

Mohommad, R, et.al, The Relationship between Serum Vitamin D Level and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Iran J Child Neurol. 2015 Autumn; 9(4): 48–53.
Cannell, J, Vitamin D and Autism, What’s New? Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017 Feb 20.

Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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probiotics for optimal health

Probiotics

Probiotics for Autism, Autoimmune and More

Probiotics (good, healthy bacteria needed for gut and digestive health) are being recognized for helping in many conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD, and many autoimmune conditions.

 

Front and center, gut health plays an important role in overall health and immune function. And now researchers are realizing that gut health is very important for brain health and function as well.

 

It is known that 70-80% of our immune system lies within the digestive tract, and up to 90% of serotonin levels are produced there. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter which is derived from tryptophan and Vitamin B6 is also needed to produce this. Serotonin is what most medications for depression, ADHD and anxiety work on. So keeping our gut health as healthy as possible is crucial to keep this neurotransmitter producing!

 

Many kids on the autism spectrum have problems related to gut health ranging from acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating and pain. These physical symptoms are another area in which probiotics have been found to be very beneficial.
Many of these kids also have immunologic and metabolic problems which effect their behaviors and emotional health.

 

Taking care of some of these underlying issues can many times lead to improvements in behaviors and symptoms associated with autism, ADHD and sensory conditions.

In a small study published in Nature medical journal, results showed that when infants were given a specific strain of probiotic (lactobacillus rhamnosus strain), there were zero cases of autism and ADHD, whereas, in the placebo group, 17.1 percent had developed autism or ADHD.

 
Refer to the list of additional references below which show connection between autism, ADHD and probiotic need.
Additionally, probiotics and the gut microbiome (balance of good/bad bacteria) have been found to play a role in allergies and specifically food allergies. One particular study looked at lactobacillus rhamnosus  given to children with a positive IgE (skin prick allergy test) to peanuts. There was an 82% reversal of the peanut allergy from continued use of this probiotic (tested under close medical supervision). Digestive health matters!

 

There is even new implication in regards to gut health and childhood Type 1 diabetes and indication that new treatments for this condition may lie within gut function and probiotics.

 
Every one’s probiotic needs and dosages are different; feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

  • Custom Probiotics, Autism and Probiotics, http://www.customprobiotics.com/autism.htm
  • The Gut:  Our Second Brain, Documentary, Amazon Video, 2016
  • Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14. doi:10.4161/gmic.19320.
  • Grossi, E., et. al,Unexpected improvement in core autism spectrum disorder symptoms after long-term treatment with probiotics, SAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2016 Aug 26;4:2050313X16666231., March 2017
  • Navarro, F. Can Probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders?, World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 14;22(46):10093-10102. March, 2017
  • Partty, A,a possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial, Nature, Vol 7:6, June 2015
  • Mimi, LK, Administration of a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy: A randomized trial, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 135:3. pg, 737-744, March 2015
  • Gareau, MG, Cognitive Function and the Microbiome, Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:227-246, March, 2017
  • Aleksandar, D.,The Dynamics of the Human Infant Gut Microbiome in Development and in Progression toward Type 1 Diabetes, Cell Host & Microbe, Vol. 20, Issue 1, p121

 

 

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oranges, healthy eating, autism

How Diet Change Helped My Son’s Autism

When my son first started showing signs of autism, I was determined to give it my all and find out how to help him.

I was so excited to have this little guy; I followed every guideline to a “T” and I watched all of his milestones so carefully.  All of his developmental milestones were met on time or even early. He crawled at 6 months, walked at 12 months, played ball, laughed, smiled, had eye contact and said first words, “mama”, “dada”, “ball”.

At 18 months he stopped saying new words and quit saying the few words he had been saying. At this time, he also started showing obsessive compulsive tendencies with lining his cars up. He would get down on the floor and study the wheels. The wheels of the car had to be perfectly aligned with the edge of the carpet.

He was no longer interested in play and only wanted to walk up and down stairs…nonstop. He would go up and down, up and down with no interest in anything else around him. He would stare at his cars for hours, open and close all the doors in the house numerous times, turn door knobs repeatedly, and stare at door hinges while inspecting exactly the way they were working.

He became obsessed with specific objects, such as a placemat and a cup he drank from. They had to be placed just right and he would stare at them without distraction incessantly. Some doors in our house had to be open and others had to be closed; the sunroof in the car had to be just as he wanted it or he would scream the whole way home.

He would have severe laughing fits followed by screaming and crying. Additionally, he was very sensitive to sounds and bright lights. Crowded stores would cause high anxiety for him and he would cover his ears any time we were driving down the highway. The sound of blenders and vacuum cleaners would sending him into screaming tantrums.

His OCD and meltdowns completely ruled our life for a while--the places we could go was very limited due to his behaviors. He had no interest in other kids and did not want to play.

I became concerned of him having autism and began to research. My research kept leading me to gluten free/casein free diets as a way to improve symptoms associated with this disorder. My initial reaction was, “oh he could never do that! That’s all he eats! Macaroni and cheese, pizza, breakfast cereal and grilled cheese.”

However, after many months of researching, I continued to be led to this same idea and I felt this was exactly the way to go. After all, what could it hurt? Maybe we would see some benefit and even get a little healthier in the process.

By this time, he had been diagnosed with multiple ear infections, viruses, colds and stomach bugs. My son seemed to be sick...all. the. time. He had even landed in the hospital from dehydration due to severe stomach virus and double ear infection at the same time.

He was very behind in language development as well as gross and fine motor skills by this point.

We found a few highly recommended integrative medicine doctors and clinical nutritionists and we began our journey of healing. We learned what was occurring on a biochemical basis to cause certain behaviors and make him not be able to effectively communicate with us.

We had our son tested for food allergies, food sensitivities, bacteria, yeast, viruses, and even parasites. He tested intolerances to gluten, dairy, eggs, and citrus. The gluten and casein were reacting like drugs in his body which is why that was the only thing he would eat. His gut was low in good bacteria, and high in bad bacteria and yeast. He tested low in several critical nutrients such as B12, Vitamin E, and Chromium--all very important in neurological function. The bacteria, yeast and food intolerances were preventing him from absorbing important nutrients and due to his very self-limiting diet, he was not getting adequate nutrients from foods.

The diet change began very simple. We substituted all of his favorite things with gluten free versions. Within three days he was trying new foods! We were able to progress the diet from there, eventually getting to a whole foods diet with even vegetables.

Once we started addressing these underlying issues, we started seeing much improvement in his ability to focus and concentrate and even started to hear new words from him. His ability to focus helped him learn new skills from his therapies. Within a few months, his OCD was greatly improved and his screaming tantrums had significantly decreased. His daily anxiety levels were dramatically reduced and our happy, playful boy was returning to us. We continued improving his diet over the years and we added supplements needed based on blood work for nutritional deficiencies.

Today, my son is 11 years old and he no longer has obsessive compulsive behaviors. His once very uncontrollable anxiety is now very well managed. He has excellent gross and fine motor skills, imaginative play and is very social. He is in a mainstream classroom and has several friends. I wasn’t sure at one time if I would ever hear him say “mama” again, or hear him say “I love you”. It was very hard to foresee any type of conversation with him. Now, we have full conversations and he is curious about everything. It is often sometimes challenging to get him to STOP talking, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The more I continued to research, the more interested I became in the biochemistry of our bodies and the impact they have to heal themselves in so many ways. There are many chronic conditions on the rise; it is not just autism.

Genetic components mixed with environmental triggers make for a very chaotic cascade of  health conditions. While this is not about "treating" autism, it is about making the child healthier.

Many times, a child's "autism-like" behavior can result from specific medical issues, food sensitivities or nutrient depletion. Once treating these specific issues, the child is healthier and feels better which results in better behaviors and communication.

Rooibos tea, nutrition, health

5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Roobios Tea

As published on Zhou Nutrition

Rooibos tea is beginning to gain popularity and for good reason. It is a from a shrub native to South Africa and is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.

Additionally, rooibos is high in mineral content which can aid in metabolic processes and maintaining a healthy nervous and immune system. Rooibos has been shown over and over to provide healing benefits to many ailments.

We all know that green tea is amazing, but did you know that Rooibos actually contains 50% more antioxidants than green tea?

Here are some of the beneficial nutrients this tea has to offer:

Iron– needed for oxygen transport, muscle function and energy production

Calcium-needed for bone health, blood clotting and muscle contraction

Potassium– needed for energy metabolism and heart health

Copper– needed for hormone and neurotransmitter metabolism and antioxidant protection

Manganese-needed for carbohydrate and protein metabolism as well as bone production

Zinc-needed for more than 200 enzyme functions in the body including immune and cell protection

Magnesium– needed for heart, muscle bone and nervous system health

Quercetin-potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

 

Take a look at a few ailments Rooibos has been shown to improve:

1. Infant Health

Rooibos has been shown to be very soothing to the colicky baby. While the exact mechanism of why this is so soothing for a baby’s tummy troubles, the anti-inflammatory properties are thought to be the reason.

2. Cardiovascular Health

Due to the Quercetin (which is a powerful anti-inflammatory), Rooibos has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) while raising HDL (the good stuff). It has also been shown to lower blood pressure and increase overall cardiovascular health.

3. Improvements and Possibly Aid in Prevention of Diabetes

Studies with Rooibos tea have shown promise in having “significant therapeutic potential” with diabetes.

4. Prevents Against Some Cancers

Due to the high antioxidant properties of Rooibos tea, studies have shown a link between the anti-mutagenic (anti-cancer) effects of this tea and growth of some types of cancer cells.

5. Restful Sleep

Rooibos is completely caffeine free! Because of this and it’s high mineral content, it can help create calm and relaxation, helping you to sleep better.

 

Remember to always speak with your healthcare provider prior to taking any herbal supplements if under treatment for any condition. Rooibos, though very safe in most individuals, has been shown to interfere with some chemotherapy/cancer treatments.

 

 

References:
• Son, MJ, et.al, Aspalathin improves hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in obese diabetic ob/ob mice., Eur J Nutr. 2013 Sep;52(6):1607-19
• Waisundara VY, Hoon, LY., Free radical scavenging ability of Aspalathus linearis in two in vitro models of diabetes and cancer., J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Jan 20;5(3):174-8
• Shaik, YB, et.al, Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation, J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2006 Jul-Dec;20(3-4):47-52.
• Sissing, L, et.al, Modulating effects of rooibos and honeybush herbal teas on the development of esophageal papillomas in rats, Nutr Cancer. 2011;63(4):600-10

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donuts, gluten

What Are Food Sensitivities & How Do They Contribute To Children’s Behaviors?

Most people are very aware of the effects of common food allergies. People may suffer from hives, difficulty breathing, sneezing, runny nose, or itching.

Very commonly overlooked, however, are food sensitivities (commonly referred to as “hidden food allergies”) which can contribute to many different health conditions as well.

If someone has a sensitivity to a specific food, an IgG (Immunoglobulin G) response occurs in the body. This is different from the IgE response which occurs in an “allergy”. The IgE response activates an immediate release of histamine. However, with the IgG immune response there is still a reaction happening which activates cytokines (immune response chemicals) in the body, though this is very commonly a delayed response and does not have the antigen-antibody response that the IgE reaction does.

This response can happen hours or even up to 7 days later. These cytokines can inflame the gut, the brain, or even respiratory tract and can affect how you or your child feels emotionally and physically.

Some common symptoms seen with the effects of food sensitivities in children are:

• Inconsistent performance: he or she will know the material one day but not the next.
• Poor memory
• Struggles with focusing and attention.
• Sensory processing problems: things such as noises, tags, foods, and transitions bother this child
• Irritability
• Hyperactivity
• Frequent meltdowns

Additionally, the child may have frequent infections, constant allergies, or digestive issues.
The best way to determine if someone has a food sensitivity is by an elimination diet, which consists of eliminating the foods which are most commonly contributors. A typical elimination diet lasts approximately 3 weeks in which the foods are slowly added back in to see if a reaction occurs.

Specific blood work can also be looked at to determine an IgG response to foods.

The most common food contributors to causing a food sensitivity in the body are:

• Dairy
• Eggs
• Gluten – Protein in Wheat, Rye, Oats and Barley
• Sugar (Especially if your child has candida, a yeast overgrowth which can effect behavior, common in children with neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD and Autism.)
• Shellfish
• Soy
• Food Dyes, Preservatives, Pesticides, GMO’s (Genetically Modified Foods)

 

Contact  me with any questions or for more information.

 

 

 

References:
Lord, Richard, Bralley, J., Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicines, 2nd edition, Metametrix Institute, 2012, pgs. 433-436

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ocean , magnesium

Magnesium: Why is it so important?

Love this picture I took of the ocean off the coast of California last summer—did you know Magnesium is found abundantly in sea water—along with many other minerals which is one reason swimming the ocean is so healing –don’t drink it though 😉

Magnesium is required in the body for over 350 biochemical reactions! That makes this mineral quite critical in many different ailments and conditions.

Unfortunately, 80% of us are deficient in magnesium! There is tons of research showing how important it is to not only eat magnesium rich foods, but also probably supplement with this mineral to lessen your risk of becoming deficient.

Lack of magnesium may lead to irritability, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. Every organ in the body — especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys — needs the mineral magnesium. It is also important in the synthesis of teeth and bones. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.

Low dietary intake of magnesium is common and can quickly lead to deficiency.

Periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy and childhood adolescents also increase need of magnesium.

Use of certain medications can deplete magnesium from the body and increase need of supplementation. Some examples of medications which may contribute to increasing your magnesium needs are diuretics (thiazides, furosemide), chemotherapy, cortisone, laxatives and PPI’s (Nexium, prevacid).

Those with diabetes or anyone with intestinal hyperpemiabilty (leaky gut) are also at an increased risk of deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency in children is characterized by excessive fidgeting, anxiety, restlessness, psychomotor instability and learning difficulties.

Some common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

• Muscle cramps and spasms
• Personality changes: depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating
• Irregular heartbeat
• Increased blood triglycerides and cholesterol
• Water retention
• Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
• Anxiety
• Insomnia

Magnesium will help:

• relax nerve impulses and muscle contractions
• promote relaxation; aid in restful sleep
• help lower blood pressure
• keep your bones strong (especially when taken with calcium)
• keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol
• relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS
• help the body absorb calcium and potassium

Diet: The best food sources of magnesium are sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, okra, almonds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, spinach, long grain brown rice, chives and cocoa. For example, spinach (1 cup) and pumpkin seeds (1 ounce) will provide about 157 mg.; long grain brown rice (1 cup) provides 84 mg.

These are the current RDAs for magnesium depending on your age and gender according to the NIH:

• Infants–6 months: 30 mg
• 7–12 months: 75 mg
• 1–3 years: 80 mg
• 4–8 years: 130 mg
• 9–13 years: 240 mg
• 14–18 years: 410 mg for men; 360 mg for women
• 19–30 years: 400 mg for men; 310 mg for women
• Adults 31 years and older: 420 mg for men; 320 mg for women
• Pregnant women: 350-360 mg
• Women who are breastfeeding: 310-320 mg

TYPE OF MAGNESIUM: Magnesium citrate, oxide, glycinate, and sulfate. For constipation, people use magnesium citrate, however, if citrate tends to upset your stomach, glycinate may be a better form taken internally.
Epsom salt baths are an excellent way to absorb magnesium in the form of magnesium sulfate without digestive upset.

 

 

References:

National Institute of Health, Magnesium, http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium#h2
Block, Mary Ann, DO, No More ADHD, Block System Inc, 2001
Rakel, Integrative Medicine 3rd edition

How to Fix Leaky Gut!

This is Part 2 of the Leaky Gut series. Check Part 1 out here which explains what Leaky Gut (Intestinal Hyperpermeability) is and why you should care!

As previously explained, up to 80% of our immune systems lie within our digestive tract. If it is out of whack, we will not have optimal health. This is the case with ailments from acne to eczema and arthritis, autoimmune conditions to autism, and even cancer,  heart disease and diabetes.

Many conditions lead to leaky gut including food sensitivities, pesticides in our foods and medications we take. As I have said before, our bodies are absolutely amazing and can heal themselves when given the right components and the right environment. Let’s take a look to see what can be done.

Functional medicine likes to refer to this as the “4R” approach. Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair.

REMOVE

  • We need to remove offending foods, alcohol, medications, and stress. Yes, I know this does not seem easy! But, once you start feeling better and optimizing your health, you will wonder why you waited so long to take this approach.
  • The most inflammatory foods tend to be gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, sugar, and corn. Are you asking yourself “What will I eat?” Try to focus on the foods you can have! There are many! Refer to my Getting Started Guide to see the best approaches to take and the most nutrient dense foods to eat.
  • Don’t remove any medications without speaking to your doctor! But, ask him/her which ones you may be able to get off. Once implementing a whole foods diet and removing offending foods which are causing inflammation and reactions in your body, most people find they are able to get off medications such as PPI (prevacid, Nexium, etc.), Statins, and NSAIDS. All of these wreak havoc on the digestive tract and therefore, the immune system. They inflame the gut lining and they prevent critical nutrients from absorbing.
  • Stress---Who doesn’t have it?! We all have stress…but we have to learn to effectively manage that stress. Take time for yourself; get a massage, go on a long walk, pray/meditate, do yoga, get out in nature. Nature in itself is truly healing. Find what you love to do and make sure to do it!

 

 REPLACE

  • We need to replace the agents needed for optimal digestive support. Years of all of the above ↑↑ has diminished enzymes in our gut which is crucial for it to be at optimal performance.
  • Consider a short course of pancreatic enzymes and in some cases Betaine HCL; your Clinical Nutritionist or Functional Medicine practitioner can advise further in this area.

 

REINOCULATE

  • The good, friendly bacteria must be replaced. Antibiotic use wipes these healing bacteria away. Replenish them with a probiotic supplement including Lactobacilli and Biffidobacteria. These friendly bacteria in the colon produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide that keeps the growth of bad bacteria in check. They have been found to improve diarrhea in those taking antibiotics and have been found to be helpful in reducing the growth of yeast (very common in many ailments but especially autism—more on this in another article). These amazing bacteria also help support the integrity of the lining of the intestines. Fermented foods such as Bubbies Fermented Pickles and Sauerkraut are also awesome ways to get these good bacteria.

 

  • Pre-biotics---These feed the probiotics! If you are taking your probiotic in supplement form make sure it has FOS (fructooligosaccharides) added. Otherwise, you can eat bananas, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, asparagus and garlic to help feed the supply! 🙂

 

REPAIR

  • Now we have to repair the mucosal lining….remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Unfortunately, it is not an overnight process. However, the results are well worth it.
  • Regular aerobic exercise can help with this. Stress induced enzymes which disrupt the GI barrier is greatly reduced just with exercise alone.
  • Additional supplements may also be needed to further repair the gut lining, depending on the severity of leaky gut. Your functional medicine practitioner or Clinical Nutritionist can help guide you in this area.

 

 

If you have any questions or would like to set up a private consultation, Contact Me.

 

Good luck on your transition to optimal health!

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