We are seeing a dramatic rise in the occurrence of childhood lifestyle-related conditions, such as allergies, eczema and asthma. These conditions almost always have a connection to diet and nutrition when they present at a young age. After birth, a child’s immune system is rapidly developing.
It must take in information from the environment and learn how to protect the child in the face of bacterial and viral infections of all kinds. The bulk of the immune system is located in the gastrointestinal system, which is why diet plays such a large role in asthma, eczema and allergies. Dietary interventions are important, but they are not “one size fits all,” so it is best to get treatment that focuses on a specific approach for your child.
Eating a diet that is high in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and low in heavily processed foods like breads and packaged foods ensures that the child is getting a good mix of proper vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. There may be the need to remove some offending foods from the diet such as gluten or dairy, as these foods have been known for some time to be immune-disrupting foods, especially in children.
Sometimes supplementation is helpful for children to make sure they are getting the right amount of nutrients at the right time; a visit with a naturopathic physician can help to create a specific and individualized treatment plan for your child.
Another important nutritional element to consider with children is the development of the nervous system. Common conditions affecting the nervous system in children include ADD/ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. While we have seen the diagnosis of these conditions increase in the past couple of decades, the treatment still remains to strengthen both the nervous system and the adrenal glands. The nervous system relies primarily on quality fats to operate at a high level. This could include supplementation with something like fish oil, but will also include adding things like coconut, avocado, olive oil and nuts/seeds to the diet in liberal amounts. As you might guess, food intolerances play a key role in conditions affecting the nervous system as well, and once again gluten (and sometimes grains in general) and dairy can cause major complications with these conditions. Sugar is another food that tends to be an issue with children, especially when referring to the health of the adrenal glands. Cane sugar (and more importantly the ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup) is toxic to the both the nervous system and adrenal glands. A food sensitivity test can often uncover more subtle food reactions.
Another important element to the treatment of the nervous system is neurofeedback, a specific type of biofeedback for the brain. This treatment allows for a rewiring and healing of the brain in order to improve many conditions, including ADD/ ADHD, autism, insomnia, headaches and anxiety/depression.
At Insights to Health, we bring our respectful and thoughtful approach to treating both the child and, if desired, their caregivers as well. This looks different in each family. Often we are called upon for parenting tips, nutrition advice for the family, ideas on how to support everyone in getting more sleep or exercise, or stress management tips for the parents.