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.

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vegetables pizza

Gluten Free/Casein Free Food Substitutions for Autism Kids

Transitioning to a new way of eating doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might imagine. Let’s look specifically at Gluten free/Casein free food substitutions for the extremely picky eater.

Many children with autism have food aversions and will not try anything new. I get it. My son was the same way.

There finally came a point that I knew we had to try the nutritional approach because his behaviors were very difficult to manage, he was not making progress with his therapies, and he was literally sick all the time. Even before I was a Clinical Nutritionist, I knew that he was not able to get adequate nutrition from the 4 or 5 things he was eating.

With autism and sensory processing disorders, this can be a slow transition. Do what you can, when you can.

As I talked about in the article, What about my picky eating child, I talked about taking the approach of substituting their favorite foods with gluten free, casein free (GFCF) alternatives. Typically, a child on the spectrum is going to be “addicted” to foods in this category.

Pizza, chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, grilled cheese. It all comes down to cheese and bread. Gluten is the protein found in many grains including wheat and casein is a protein found in dairy products.  Read more about how these proteins affect autism here.

The first step is many times to simply replace these with a GFCF version.

Below, I will list some of the best substitutions for many of these products. I would like to add, that many of these products are not “ideal”, but it is a great place to start.

 

*Transitioning off grains and off most processed is the most ideal for speedy healing of the gut and as a result, improved behaviors.

Butter

Barlean’s Butter Flavored Organic Coconut Oil

Breads

UDI’s (also has hamburger buns, hotdog buns, dinner rolls, etc)
Food for Life Organic Rice Bread

 

Pizzas and Pizza Crusts

UDI’s—Gluten free/casein free crusts but the fully made frozen pizzas have real cheese (casein)—You can just buy the crust and make your own pizza with Daiya cheese and Hormel Naturals Pepperoni.

Amy’s Organic (frozen)—They do provide a fully prepared Gluten Free, Casein Free Pizza. Try to get soy free as well.

Cheese

Daiya ( highly processed and not the best ingredients)

A better choice is finding a recipe for Cashew "cheese" such as this

Mac N Cheese

Amy’s Organic (frozen)—The only brand I know of that has a Gluten free and Casein free option.

Better Choice>>> Or easily make your own with Brown Rice or Quinoa Noodles with some Cashew Cheese

Snack Bars

Lara Bars

Chicken Nuggets, Corn dogs, Deli Meats, Pepperoni

Applegate Farms
Hormel Naturals

Oils

For Baking:

• Coconut oil/butter
• Flax seed oil
• Macadamia nut oil
• Palm oil/palm kernel oil shortening like Nutiva Organic Shortening or Spectrum Organic Shortening
• Safflower oil
• Sunflower oil
• Walnut oil

For Sauteing:

• Olive oil
• Rice bran oil
• Sesame oil

For Salad Dressings:

• Avocado oil
• Grapeseed oil
• Olive oil

Egg Substitutes

• While not gluten or casein, many people have a sensitivity to eggs. These are my favorite egg substitutes for baking

• 2 tbsp. arrowroot flour = 1 egg
• 1 tbsp. chia seeds + 3 tbsp water=one egg
• 2 tbsp. potato starch = 1 egg
• 1 banana = 1 egg in cake recipes
• 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds plus 3 tbsp. water = one egg

 

I also highly recommend getting vegetables in as much and as soon as possible. One way I did this was to chop bell peppers, carrots, garlic, onions, etc with a food chopper as small as possible and mix it in to their pizza or spaghetti sauce or meatloaf.

 Avocado is an extremely good, nutrient dense food for getting healthy fats in. Here is a good recipe for Chocolate Pudding that hides the avocado.

 

**If you have a question regarding a gluten free/casein free substitution for a specific food, please Contact Me.  or comment below. I will also be adding to this list as I get more questions.

 

 

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.

MTHFR

MTHFR- What You Need To Know

Methylation deficiencies and a defect in MTHFR are linked to many conditions/symptoms, including:

ADHD

Frequent miscarriages

Autism

Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism

Delayed Speech

Headaches

Bipolar or manic depression

Heart disease

Diabetes

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

IBS

Autoimmune Conditions

 

MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrafolate-reductase) is a much needed enzyme in the body. It’s required for processing methylation and converting folic acid/folate in to an active form that the body can use. MTHFR is needed for many functions of the body including: repairing DNA, switching genes off and on, processing chemicals, hormones, building the immune system, producing energy and maintaining cells.

Not to be confused with the enzyme, the MTHFR gene provides the instructions for making that MTHFR enzyme—therefore, “triggering” the production of the enzyme. A mutation in the MTHFR gene may therefore affect enzyme function.
MTHFR gene mutations are thought to affect up to about 60% of the population.

Researchers suspect there may be at least 30 different types of this gene mutation with C677T and A1298C being the most studied and tested of these mutations. {This number and letter sequence refers to what is known as a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP (pronounced “snip”).}

Having a gene with a mutation does not mean that the gene is defective or nonfunctioning, only that it is working with an altered efficiency.

Although mutations can occur at any time during our lifetime, it is most likely that we are born with these mutations and will have them throughout our life.

This may provide an explanation as to why certain traits or diseases "run in the family".

Although we cannot change our genetic code, we can change how our genes are expressed.

Research has determined that our gene expression is not only distinguished by hereditary factors, but it is also influenced by our diet, nutritional status, toxic load and environmental influences or stressors. This phenomenon has been termed "epigenetics".

MTHFR dramatically affects Homocysteine- an amino acid linked to a wide range of health problems, and is an independent risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. It is naturally formed in the body, but gets broken down by L-methylfolate (active folate). Due to MTHFR restricting active folate, homocysteine is significantly affected by this gene mutation.

MTHFR mutations don’t directly make you unwell.

Rather, they may cause an exaggerated response to poor diet or environmental factors that others can “get away with”.

If you lack vitamins and minerals as result of a poor diet, digestion or absorption, it limits the body’s ability to have proper methylation.

Why?

Because these nutrients are needed to help make the most active form of folate in your body known as methylfolate. There are several of the B vitamins that require activation before they are useful to the body.

This is why dietary considerations are so important for certain MTHFR mutations.

For instance, when people with an MTHFR genetic mutation are exposed to certain environmental factors (chemicals, food, poor air quality, vaccines, medications, etc), they have a harder time getting rid of them, which can cause immune dysfunction leading to many chronic conditions.

One of the ways the MTHFR gene mutation can make you susceptible to certain conditions is by lowering the body’s ability to make glutathione. People with MTHFR irregularities typically have low glutathione, which makes them more susceptible to stress and less tolerant to toxic exposures.

As the saying goes, “Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”

 

 

 

Shawna Kunselman, MSACN

 

References:

Bjelland I, Tell GS, Vollset SE, Refsum H, Ueland PM. Folate, vitamin
B12, homocysteine, and the MTHFR 677CT polymorphism in anxiety
and depression: the Hordaland Homocysteine Study, Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2003;60:618-626

Boris, M., MD, et.al, Association of MTHFR Gene Variants with Autism, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 4 Winter 2004

Rosenblatt D. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase., Clinic of Investigative Medicine 2001;24:56-59

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

sugar cubes, sugar

5 Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

As published on Zhou Nutrition

The average American consumes up to 22 teaspoons of sugar daily!

Many times, children are getting even more sugar than adults. In fact, it is estimated that children between ages of 9-18 may be getting 34 teaspoons of sugar daily!

Added sugar is one of the worst additives to foods today. We all know about “sugar highs” and the short term effects sugar can have on a child’s behavior, but there are many problems associated with excessive sugar intake over time as well.

Sugar is a top contributor to many chronic diseases and has harmful effects on the body’s metabolism. It leads to insulin resistance which is a stepping stone to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Long term consumption can even lead to a condition known as Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.

A 2011 study published in “Postgraduate Medicine” found correlations between excessive sugar intake and behaviors associated with ADHD. The reason may be related to a disruption of chemicals in the brain affecting the reward –related areas of the brain. Sugar can come in many forms added to foods such as fructose, dextrose, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

As sugar proves to be very addictive, removing sugar from our diets and the diets of our children can seem a bit out of reach.

Here Are 5 Simple Ways to Reduce Sugar!

Leave the Sugary Drinks Behind!

A 16 ounce Frappuccino can have up to 69 grams of sugar! Fruit juices and sports drinks are not any better and are loaded with sugar. Flavored water is the way to go. Try adding mint leaves, cucumber slices, or orange slices to your water. Mix it up and play around with it. Let the kids pick out the type of fruit they want to add to their water. If needed, add a few drops of stevia (however, stay away from artificial sweeteners) while your taste buds adjust to the change. Herbal teas are another great choice of beverage throughout the day.

Avoid Processed Foods to Nix Hidden Sugars!

A package of oatmeal can easily have 15 g of sugar in one serving. Skip the package and make your own from rolled oats, which contains 0 g of sugar. Toss the morning breakfast cereals and go for homemade oats instead. Added sugar can even show up in seemingly healthy foods such as whole wheat bagels, so be sure to check labels. Switch out the sugary processed treats with whole fruit to satisfy a sweet craving!

Yogurt

While yogurt seems like a great option for a snack, most yogurts are filled with sugar. Try to opt for non-flavored coconut yogurt with added berries or raisins.

Buy “Unsweetened” Varieties

If buying applesauce, almond milk, nut butters or canned fruit, stick to the unsweetened. This will save you loads of sugar. Keep in mind that you can switch unsweetened applesauce for sugar in many different baking recipes. Also, be wary of dried fruits. Many manufacturers add sugar and syrups. Be sure to check the ingredient list.

Cook at Home

Cooking at home ensures that you know what is in your food so you can avoid unwanted additives such as sugar. Openly discussing the foods we eat and the reasons we eat them can also go a long way for yourself and for children. Children don’t have an understanding of why we shouldn’t eat certain foods, but talking about the benefits of healthy foods can encourage them to eat healthier. Get the kids to help in the kitchen to increase their desire to try new and healthy foods. This helps serve as a great reminder for you to nix the sugar as well!

References:
Johnson, Richard J., Mark S. Gold, David R. Johnson, and Takuji Ishimoto. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Is It Time to Reappraise the Role of Sugar Consumption?” Postgraduate Medicine 123.5 (2011): 39-49.
Yale Health, Sugar Detective, http://yalehealth.yale.edu/sugardetective
Nseir W, Soft drinks consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun 7;16(21):2579-88 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20518077

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5 Reasons Why Chia Seeds Are An Amazing Superfood

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica which is native to South America.

As published on Zhou Nutrition website.

“Chia” means strength and has long been known for its energy producing qualities. Historically, the Mayan and Aztec cultures used chia seeds for energy and endurance during long distance running or even while fighting battles.

Recent research is finding even more amazing benefits to this superfood. They are extremely nutrient dense and a 2 Tablespoon serving contains:

  • Dietary fiber (11g – 42% recommended daily value)
  • Protein (4.4g – 9% RDV)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (5 grams)
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (1.6 grams)
  • Calcium (77 mg – 18% RDV)
  • Phosphorus (265 mg – 30% RDV)
  • Magnesium (24% RDV)
  • Manganese (up to 50% RDV)
  • Zinc (1.0 mg – 7% RDV)

All of these nutrients and in only 130 calories!

Some Health Benefits Which Have Been Seen With Chia Seeds Are:

High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, which contribute to premature aging and diseases such as cancer. In fact, studies have shown the antioxidant levels in chia seeds fight up to 70% of free radical damage.

Weight Loss

Chia seeds can aid in weight loss with help from the high fiber and protein found in them. They can absorb up to 10X their own weight in water, which will aid in digestion and keep you feeling fuller longer. This can also help with reducing sugar cravings. Additionally, chia seeds rank as one of the top plant food sources for protein, which helps in balancing blood sugar levels, burning fat, and building lean muscle.

High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds are high in ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), which is a form of Omega 3 fatty acids. This particular fatty acid has been shown to prevent and decrease tumor growth in specific cancers, such as breast and cervical.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

The nutrient density of chia seeds fight inflammation in the body and assist in reversing oxidative stress. This along with the high levels of omega 3’s protect the heart by reducing risk of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

Additionally, these same factors, reduce the risk of developing metabolic disorders like dyslipidemia (excessive fat in the blood) and insulin resistance. These are two primary factors in developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Stronger Bones

Due to the high levels of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, chia seeds are an excellent super food to help boost strong, healthy bones.

My Favorite Quick and Easy Chia Seed Recipe

  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • ¼ cup Chia Seed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 pint strawberries chopped and hulled
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Whisk the first four ingredients together in a bowl and let chill in refrigerator overnight. In the morning add chopped strawberries. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Enjoy!

References:
Chicco, AG, et. al, Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) rich in alpha-linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats, Br J Nutr. 2009 Jan;101(1):41-50
Deshpande, R. et.al, Alpha-linolenic acid regulates the growth of breast and cervical cancer cell lines through regulation of NO release and induction of lipid peroxidation, Journal of Molecular Biology
Martinez-Cruz, O, et. al, Phytochemical profile and nutraceutical potential of chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) by ultra high performance liquid chromatography., J Chromatogr A. 2014 Jun 13;1346:43-8

 

 

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