School Lunch Programs: Feeding Mind, Body and Soul

School Lunch Programs: Feeding Mind, Body and Soul

School Lunch Programs: Feeding Mind, Body and Soul

Alyce Ortuzar fills us in on what’s in a school lunch, how it relates to your child’s health, how to improve it and how to get your kids involved in the process. It’s lunchtime at school. What are your kids eating? Here are some possibilities:  Meat and dairy products with government-approved pesticides and endocrine- disrupting hormones U.S. Department of Agriculture-subsidized irradiated beef or chicken from sick and stressed animals raised under unsanitary and inhumane conditions Products loaded with chemicals and devoid of nutrients qualifying as food, such as artificial strawberry-flavored milkshakes containing such mystery ingredients as: Amyl acetate Anethol Anisyl formate Benzyl isobutyrate Dipropyl ketone Ethyl butyrate Phenethyl alcohol Rum ether Solvent What’s Wrong with Additives?  Research shows that pesticides and hormone-disruptors are neurotoxic to growing brains. In the 1970s, pediatrician Benjamin Feingold linked food additives, dyes and other additives to hyperactive behavior and learning problems. Removing these poisons and putting children on diets of salycilate-free fresh fruits, vegetables, and…

Sensory Diet

Sensory Diet

Sensory Diet

A sensory diet can help many individuals with autism, whose sensory processing is compromised, because they may find it hard to achieve and maintain an appropriate arousal level. In addition, a sensory diet can help those with Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as those with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities; sensory issues may be playing a large, undetected role in these disorders. Children with these disorders may move from sensory-seeking to sensory-avoidance behaviors, which can be problematic for authority figures even though they serve a purpose for the individual. But what if kids with autism were given opportunities to rock, touch, move, and jump? Maybe they would be satiated and not act out inappropriately. What Is a Sensory Diet? This is the stance taken by many occupational therapists who show parents how to use a sensory diet. Just as a nutritionist recommends certain foods and supplements, the occupational therapist may recommend readily available opportunities to be physical, and supplements them with…

Undiagnosed Lyme Disease

Undiagnosed Lyme Disease

Undiagnosed Lyme Disease

Nika Hamblin relates her personal story of dealing with undiagnosed Lyme disease in this post. Many years ago, my husband and I were living in southern Germany. I became very ill with what doctors thought was a severe strain of flu. Mentally and physically, I haven’t been the same since because of these symptoms: Memory loss Mental fogginess Weight gain Intolerance to alcohol Weakness Joint achiness Complete inability to exercise Doctors kept telling me “if you’d just lose some weight….” Nobody wanted to listen to the fact that I gained a lot of weight BECAUSE I was sick. Five years later, my internist sent me to Johns Hopkins. Diagnoses: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Neurally Mediated Hypotension (NMH); I later discovered that some patients diagnosed with CFS in actuality have Lyme disease.  Both Sons Have Multiple Diagnoses While still sick, I gave birth to my first son, Spencer, who was born five weeks prematurely for no known reason. When it…

Magnesium: The Super-Mineral

Magnesium: The Super-Mineral

Magnesium: The Super-Mineral

Magnesium can stop an asthma attack, pull toxins out of the body, increase circulation, remove age spots, decrease joint pain and relieve constipation. It is the eighth most plentiful element on the planet and the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. It is essential for a very wide gamut of critical body functions, affecting virtually every organ system.  Why Is Magnesium Important in Developmental Delays?  This mineral is directly responsible for over 300 biochemical bodily reactions, many of which have gone awry in individuals with autism, attention issues, Sensory Processing Disorder and other developmental delays. It is extremely important in the metabolism of fellow elements: cadmium, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, lead, sulfur and zinc. It is the single most important mineral for maintaining proper electrical balance and facilitating smooth metabolism in the cells. One of the major properties of it is that of stabilizing cell membranes. The health status of the digestive system and the kidneys significantly influence…

Lymphatic System: Key to Improving Immune Function

Lymphatic System: Key to Improving Immune Function

Lymphatic System: Key to Improving Immune Function

What Is the Lymphatic System?   The lymphatic system is the body’s uni-directional transport network that moves dead cells and other waste products from the tissues to the veins just before they reconnect with the heart. The lymphatic system begins with single cells called endothelial cells; they create the initial lymphatics that open, allowing fluids to enter from the tissues.  Pre-collectors, which have valves, then move the transparent lymph fluid forward on that one-way path toward its ultimate destination, an area called the angulus venosis. During the third step, the fluid goes through collectors, tiny muscular units that contract and expand, propelling the lymph fluid to transport its passengers to the lymph nodes.   The nodes filter and process the lymphatic fluid, breaking down any harmful particles, which are then sent to the appropriate organs of elimination such as the liver, kidneys, or lungs. Movement of the fluid through the lymph nodes also increases production of lymphocytes, thus enhancing the body’s immune…

Vitamin D Deficiency and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D Deficiency and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Increasing amounts of research (see References, below) point to a vitamin D deficiency as being linked to autism, as well as ADHD, allergies, asthma and autoimmune disorders. What Is Vitamin D and How Do We Get It?   Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is produced naturally as D3 or cholecalciferol (pronounced koh·luh·kal·sif·uh·rawl) when sunlight hits the skin. Most people used to get sufficient vitamin D3 from sunlight. Today, vitamin D deficiency is rampant largely in part to increased use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, coupled with a move away from an agrarian society.   A Perfect Storm for Vitamin D Deficiency With just 10-40 minutes of unprotected summer sun our bodies produce about 20,000 units of vitamin D. The body makes what it needs, accumulating and storing significant reserves in the tissues, liver, spleen, bones, and brain; it can be then be available during darker months. Vitamin D is fat soluble, requiring sufficient “good” fats in the diet for…

Prism Lenses

The use of prism lenses for behavioral and learning problems goes back to the 1970’s when optometric pioneers began using these tools at the Gesell Institute. Prism lenses can be powerful temporary tools for individuals with autism and other developmental delays because they alter neural processing of the brain, creating an unconscious change in posture or attention.  How Prism Lenses Are Prescribed Counter to what many believe, lens prescribing is an art, not a science. While a machine might indicate one Rx, that prescription might make a patient dizzy or nauseous. Lenses are for particular purposes: to do a specific job, such as reading in the sun, or driving a truck in the rain at night. Unfortunately, for most people, one lens cannot solve both problems. Different prescriptions are thus necessary, depending upon the task.    Ophthalmologists use compensatory lenses to improve eyesight for specific purposes, such as those just described. Most people reading this post are wearing compensatory lenses. Optometrists,…

Learning-Related Vision Problems

Learning-Related Vision Problems

Learning-Related Vision Problems

An estimated 25% of school-age children have vision problems affecting learning. Students can have difficulties in any of a number of areas. Maybe their two eyes don’t work together to track or focus. These and other problems can have a profound effect on how they learn. What Are Learning-Related Vision Problems?   Symptoms of vision problems include:  Eyes that are red or tear when stressed   Poor hand-eye coordination Avoidance of academics Decreased comprehension Slow reading/writing   Losing place Omitting words Skipping lines Confusion of similar words    Discomfort Fatigue Headaches Short attention span when doing schoolwork Vision Problems and/or Disabilities?   Because vision and learning are intimately connected, vision problems can be easily mistaken for learning or attention problems. Undetected and untreated vision problems can elicit some of the very same signs and symptoms commonly attributed to: ADD ADHD Learning disabilities Dyslexia Impulsivity Hyperactivity Distractibility Poor reading Trouble learning math Illegible handwriting In some instances these conditions co-exist and treating one aspect of the…

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): Healing the Gut and Brain

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): Healing the Gut and Brain

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): Healing the Gut and Brain

Have You Heard About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?   HBOT is a powerful, safe, non-invasive alternative to anti-fungal medication that can be used for: Allergies Autism Autoimmune disorders Traumatic Brain Injury Cerebral palsy Candidiasis Drowning Hypoglycemia Heavy-metal toxicity Infections Multiple sclerosis Stroke Concussion Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Vascular disorders Diabetic neuropathy What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?   It is a treatment modality, in which a patient is entirely enclosed in a chamber and given oxygen to breathe at a pressure greater than one atmosphere. Both the enclosed chamber and the pressure are necessary for HBOT.   How Does HBOT Work?   A patient just sits in the chamber and relaxes, naps, or even watches a movie or video. HBOT diffuses oxygen throughout the body, even into damaged tissues. Pressurized oxygen has tremendous healing capabilities. Oxygen expands and enlarges restricted capillaries and blood vessels in the body, even to the speech and language centers of the brain. HBOT heals the brain by activating idling neurons,…

How Nutrition Affects Hypotonia

How Nutrition Affects Hypotonia

How Nutrition Affects Hypotonia

Many children with developmental delays have low muscle tone, or hypotonia, because external factors that impact the nervous system can also affect the muscles. Premature birth, heavy antibiotic use, and exposure to toxins damage all types of cells, causing generalized low tone or low tone in specific areas such as the hands or mouth. In severe cases of hypotonia, the muscles may be so weak that a child has difficulty sitting up for extended periods, chewing, or pushing out bowel movements. Milder cases, affecting the finger or eye muscles, cause fine motor delays or visual processing disorders. All children with hypotonia have reduced stamina.   Symptoms Associated with Hypotonia Fatigue/low arousal:  The body’s inefficient processing of nutrients results in reduced available energy overall.   Reflux/constipation:  Poor or reduced trunk tone can cause stomach flaps to flop, thus impeding food movement.    Poor sitting posture or “slumping” can be a result of soft trunk muscles.   Weak chewing and poor/picky eating:  Low tone in the…