Kids In Crisis
“How come I’m fat?”
“I don’t wanna go outside and play.”
“It hurts when I breathe.”
“I hate school!”
“I don’t feel good.”
Obesity, Asthma, ADHD, and Type 2 Diabetes Are Hurting Our Children.
Find Out How Natural Choices Can Restore Kids’ Health.
TOPIC: CHILDREN’S HEALTH CRISES
According to scientists from Baylor College of Medicine, the best thing parents can do is take their own advice and finish their vegetables.
In a study of over 190 families, 5 year olds’ fruit and veggie intake was higher if their parents also ate those foods.
However, parents who ate less produce yet pressured their children, had children who consumed even fewer of the healthy foods. Researchers recommended telling children to “try” to eat their veggies, not “finish” them.
Kids In Crisis
Alarming numbers of American children are incapacitated by poor health. Millions are afflicted with diseases considered uncommon less than a generation ago.
Obesity is at epidemic proportions while the numbers of children with asthma, type 2 diabetes, and ADHD continue to rise. The word autism is familiar because the condition is no longer rare.1
Poor health is prevalent among young people at the highest levels in our history. The situation is so bad that many children’s health profiles actually parallel those of their grandparents. Tragically, there are no indications of reversals in the trends.
When it comes to the health of the nation’s children, this is our report card. Not just parents, but health educators, school board members, health practitioners (including physicians), government representatives at all levels, and (let us not forget them) purveyors of nonfoods are all involved in this heartbreaking state of affairs. What are your thoughts about this dire state of affairs? How could you get involved? Action begins with an idea.
The conditions discussed here are not a simple matter. A complex conversation exists involving time, money, education, psychological factors, and more. This conversation is beyond our scope. That said, a great deal of fundamental healing can only be achieved through sound nutrition, supplementation, and regular exercise. Given the opportunity, the body always goes toward wellness. In most cases, it can heal itself in a much shorter time than that needed to break it down.
Another necessary ingredient in our recipe for child wellness is parental involvement. Lasting changes only come when parents model the behaviors they want for their children. Children even eat more fruits and vegetables when the family dines together.
Just as no one can convince a child not to smoke if they keep on puffing, authority figures in children’s lives must do as they say. Eat a healthy diet with lots of whole, fresh foods; keep little or no junk food in the house; take your supplements with your child; and, get involved in fitness together – at least once a week.
Kids In Crisis
1 The treatment of autism is not covered in this issue. There is a large number of resources available on line. Research by googling “resources for autism”.
Is There An Eating Plan?
Not surprisingly, a whole foods diet is recommended. More specific guidance can be found in the 2010 version of glucose revolution series, The Low Glycemic Index Handbook. Its companion, The New Glucose Revolution Shoppers Guide…. (to over 1300 foods), is a worthwhile investment.2 Brand-Miller, et al, provide a rich, uncomplicated guide to a whole foods diet which will benefit the entire family.
The goal of the authors is to make following the glycemic index the foundation of a balanced diet.
This is a way of eating that maintains healthy blood sugar levels rather than terrorizing the pancreas into flooding the body with insulin. (Over time this has very bad results.)
In addition, switching from fast foods to real foods delivers increased well being and decreased weight. The diet is also suitable for people with diabetes.
There is only one disclaimer: Children, particularly those with asthma and ADHD, may have food sensitivities. The most common are wheat, dairy foods, sugar, and soy. When these foods are a problem, others need to be substituted for them. For some children, less suspect foods can also be activators.
Nearly 30 years ago, Ben Feingold, MD, an allergist, developed a special diet which normalizes the behavior of children with ADHD, and also helps children with asthma.3 The Feingold Diet excludes all artificial flavorings, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives as well as particular fruits which are high in the biochemical salicylate.4
Is There An Eating Plan?
2 By Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD, Johanna Burani, MS, RD, and Kaye Fowter-Powell, BS, MS; Marolowe & Company; 2010; $16.95 and $7.99 respectively. The glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrate foods based on how quickly they release sugar into your bloodstream.
3 The Feingold Diet is used alone and as an adjunct for treating OCD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), Bi-Polar Disorder, depression, and developmental delays.
In addition, it has been found useful for other common childhood ailments, including ear infections, bedwetting, and sensory deficits. Read Why Your Child Is Hyperactive, Ben F. Feingold, MD (1985, still in print) . Investigate www.ADHD.com or www.feingold.org or call 800-321-3287 (US only).
4 Fruits listed as Very High include apricots, all berries, raisins, and oranges. Several varieties of apples and bananas are designated as “High”. Search “high salicylate foods”.
What’s The BIG PROBLEM?
The prevalence of overweight and obesity among young people is headed in a deadly direction. Data from the CDC for the year 2007-2008 shows that 18 percent of children ages 12-19 are obese; 20 percent of those ages 6-11; and 10 percent, ages 2-5. Re-read those figures and give them some thought. One in 10 little kids is obese and one in 5 of all other youngsters. Sadly, this health problem is entirely avoidable in most cases. We truly are becoming the “Wall-E” nation.5
Besides poor food choices, the other main contributing factor is the increasing tendency toward an inactive life. In general, unless a child is involved in formal team or individual sports, physical activity is limited. The American Academy of Pediatrics is not alone in pleading for more school and community physical activity programs. Since this overweight epidemic has all the earmarks of a national disaster, why haven’t national fitness standards for young people been reinstated?
At their young age, these children are already old. Their risks include declining cardiovascular health (high blood pressure, high cholesterol), glandular incompetence (high blood insulin, impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes, menstrual irregularities), poor pulmonary health (asthma, sleep apnea), and gastrointestinal/liver dysfunction.
Further, the older the obese child, the more likely the problem will carry into adult life. This is only direct physical impact. We are even not considering the tsunami-sized individual and national health burden looming over us.
What’s The BIG PROBLEM?
5 Awarded the Best Animated Feature in 2008, “Wall-E” takes place in the future where Americans, who are too obese to walk, live on a space station because of the pollution damage on Earth.
Poor Food Choices + Sedentary Living + Overweight = TYPE 2 DIABETES
The incidence of diabetes is rising worldwide. In the US alone, 2000 people are diagnosed with diabetes every day.
Because of the recent sharp increase in the incidence of type 2, the situation has been labeled an epidemic. Right now, 154,000 young people are diabetics.
The frightening increase among children points out the importance of environmental influences. Once again, these are poor food choices and lack of physical activity. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) warns, “For those children who do not have diabetes, the incidence of getting it increases daily.” (www.diabetes.org)
Although obesity is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes, there are other risk factors. One is family history: 45-80% diabetic children have at least one parent with diabetes, and 74-100% have a first or second degree relative with the disease.
Two points stand out in the ADA material: 1) little is known about any aspect of the disease in children; and 2) type 2 diabetes has been demonstrated to be progressive in adults. “Despite rigorous attention to meal plans and exercise programs,” only 10% are able to control the disease over time without medication. This does not bode well for the growing numbers of diabetic children.
In this section, we depend on nutrients that are effective in adults with diabetes. None of these supplements is harmful. The adult amounts are halved and can be doubled for children who are over 12 or who have reached adult weights.
acetyl-L-carnitine 500 mg 2x/d
chromium 200 mcg
bilberry 100 mg 3x/d
alpha-lipoic acid 125-250 mg 3x/d
N-acetyl-cysteine 300 mg
magnesium 250 mg 2x/d
carnosine 500 mg
milk thistle 300 mg 3x/d
FYI: About 90% of children with type 2 have dark shiny patches on their skin. These are most often found between the fingers and toes, on the back of the neck, and in the creases of the arms and legs.
By 2008, about 10 million children from 0-17 had been diagnosed with asthma, making it the leading chronic disease in the country. Unfortunately, declining nutrition and worsening air quality are causing the numbers to skyrocket.
In this disease, the production of bronchial mucus results in wheezing, coughing, and difficulty in breathing. Asthma is potentially life-threatening. Prednisone is a common treatment. Severe adverse reactions to this steroid include fluid and electrolyte disturbances, muscle weakness, peptic ulcers, impaired wound healing, headaches and dizziness, menstrual irregularities, and glaucoma. Not what anybody would want to add to their child’s health burden.
Asthma is another area where the Feingold diet has been successful as has a vegan diet (elimination of all animal products). This reinforces the importance of eliminating reactive foods and other allergens. Be sure to add colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. Recent studies show that antioxidants from these foods, along with vitamins C and E, support lung health.
A European study based on 50,000 children showed that the greater the amounts of junk food in the diet, the higher the occurrence of attacks. The authors concluded that the high fat content in the food inflamed the air passages, inhibiting uptake of medications and limiting their effectiveness.
On the other hand, essential fatty acids, including fish oils and borage can help by reducing inflammation. (Evening primrose or black currant oils are also effective.)
Prednisone depletes the body of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Use a good bone building formula to replace these nutrients. Other considerations are:
fish oil 1000 mg
borage 500 mg
probiotics 3-4 grams
yerba mate tincture 5 drops/d
quercetin 100 mg+ 3x/d
ginkgo biloba 40 mg 3x/d
milk thistle 300 mg 3x/d
bee pollen per label
Choose exercise environments carefully. Cold or polluted air can aggravate asthma. Improve indoor air quality with a HEPA air filter. Massage and acupuncture can be helpful.6
6 An article in Alternative Medicine (July 2000 p 40) discusses the work of Harry H. Philibert, MD. He treats a particular neuromuscular response near the shoulder blades (the infraspinatus muscle) which has enabled him to immediately reverse asthma, pneumonia, and other pulmonary distress in thousands of patients.
American Disorder Hits Density
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is rampant. Estimates run as high as 10 percent of the entire school age population, an astronomical increase over a decade ago. The name describes the core symptoms of the disorder. The most common treatment is a prescription for Ritalin.
ADHD is a brain disorder. Children with this problem have about three times more slow wave activity in their brains than normal. These waves affect the auditory processing areas, motor control, language function, and integration of the senses. No wonder these children have problems learning. Since about 70 percent of children respond to Ritalin, intuitively one would think it must speed up the brain waves. It doesn’t. (See sidebar.)
Expert consensus is that diet is as important for treating this condition as it is for treating overweight and/or diabetes. We have already mentioned the importance of food sensitivities and the effectiveness of the Feingold diet. In addition, symptoms may be aggravated by environmental toxins/allergens (pets, dust, mold, chemicals, heavy metals, etc.) and the overgrowth of an intestinal inhabitant called Candida albicans. Treating for the latter must be seriously considered if the child has been on antibiotics regularly.
Routine exercise is often overlooked as a strategy for ameliorating ADHD. However, vigorous exercise can improve symptoms through the release of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter. The recommendation of the American Heart Association is that children participate in 1/2 hour of moderate exercise most days, and 30 minutes of vigorous activity 3-4 days.
Many of the following supplements support brain chemistry while others are important to helping the body detoxify.
theanine 50 mg 3-4x/d
NAC 50 mg 3-4x/d
taurine 50 mg 3-4x/d
DMAE 200 mg 3-4x/d
acetyl-L-carnitine 500 mg 2-\3x/d
ginkgo biloba 40 mg 3x/d
phosphatidylserine 100 mg 3-4x/d
green food powders 1T+/d
Essential fatty acids are particularly important to this population of children.
Several studies have shown that ADHD children have lower than normal levels of EFAs. This is a nutritional deficiency that needs to be corrected.
Supplement Your Child’s Health
We recommend that all children (and all adults) take a multivitamin-mineral formula daily.7 Use one which is not artificially colored or full of sugar. (It won’t be useful if it adds to your child’s health problem.) Include vitamin C, 250 mg 3x/d, and vitamin E as mixed tocopherols with tocotrienols, 100 IU. Because of years of eating denatured foods, the digestive system may need support. Begin with a broad spectrum plant-based digestive enzyme.
If the child has been on antibiotics, probiotics also need to be included. Loose powder mixed with liquid is most easily served. Use ½ t 2x/d or follow the as directions on the label.
Since most Americans are deficient in essential fatty acids, it follows that they are needed across the board by children. Flavored cod liver oils and omega-3 basics are available. In 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon servings, the oil can easily be mixed into smoothies, sprinkled on steamed veggies with lemon juice, and mixed into regular salad dressing just before serving.
Use fish oils rather than flax oil. The bodies of people in poor health do not perform normal functions normally, making the transition of flax oil into its essential fatty acid components iffy.
The majority of children do not eat enough green foods. Spirulina, in particular, has been shown to help calm ADHD. Add a T of dried greens, 1 tsp per serving in smoothies or fruit juice. Because of allergies, algaes may be best.
Acetyl-L-carnitine: Improves blood sugar (glucose) management and increases insulin sensitivity. Has a calming effect.
Alpha-lipoic acid: Improves insulin sensitivity and prevents and treats diabetic neuropathy.
Bee pollen: Works as natural antihistamine for asthma.
Bilberry: Reduces blood glucose levels.
Carnosine: Interferes with the formation of structures called AGES which encourage premature cellular aging in diabetics.
Chromium: Regulates blood glucose, increases insulin sensi-tivity, and inhibits AGES.
DMAE: Dimethylaminoethanol is normally present in our brains. It supports focus, concentration, and brain function. “As good as Ritalin and no toxicity,” says Jeff Bradstreet, MD.8
Ginkgo biloba: In ADHD, for blood circulation in the brain; for asthma, to calm the respiratory system.
Magnesium: Particularly important in diabetes. Lowers blood glucose, increases insulin sensitivity, and calms the nervous system.
NAC: N-acetyl-cysteine protects against beta cell destruction in the pancreas (important in diabetes); supports detoxification in ADHD; enhances immune system in asthma.
Milk thistle: Supports sugar regulation by the liver and inhibits inflammation in asthma.
Phosphatidylserine: Sensitizes neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.
Quercetin: One of several bioflavonoids thought to support lung function; important antioxidant.
Taurine: An amino acid which supports the health of the central nervous system.
Theanine: An amino acid which supports an alert yet relaxed state. Bradstreet reports it accelerates slow brain wave activity within ½ hour in ADHD.
Yerba mate tincture: Soothes airways, loosens mucus and lessens its formation.
Supplement Your Child’s Health
7 One theory of overeating has it that people eat more when their diet doesn’t meet their nutritional needs. A multivitamin-mineral formula could help ameliorate this problem.
8 Bradstreet is a physician who specializes in treating ADHD.
How Does Ritalin Work?
A 2006 study by Waterhouse, et al, published in the Journal of Neurophysiology shows that methylphenidate (Ritalin) elevates norepinephrine levels in the brains of rats. As this helps focus attention, it simultaneously suppresses nerve signal transmissions in the sensory pathways, making it easier to block out distracting outside stimuli.
This report helps explain how a stimulant aids people with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders to improve their focus without increasing their motor activity. Ritalin is an amphetamine cousin. Researchers want to unlock the mystery of why this stimulant drug has the paradoxical effect of decreasing hyperactive behavior and increasing the ability to focus.
According to the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse), although the illicit use of amphetamines ranks third favorite among 12th graders, the numbers using have been falling consistently since data collection began in 2001.