I use lots of different dietary interventions with kids.
The diet I use depends on many factors: what they will eat, what their main issues are, how much time the family has to cook and prepare food, and what stage people are on their journey towards a healthier life.
No matter what diet we settle on, there are fundamental changes that apply to everyone. These are the no-brainer diet changes that are essential to regain health.
Some people will see significant improvements, just by making these changes.
Other people will need much more in depth gut healing and therapeutic diets.
Here is my top 5 changes:
#1: Remove artificial ingredients / additives
You will get a big bang for your buck just by making this change.
Artifical additives can have a major impact on:
You child will not miss out on any food groups or nutrients by cutting out artificial additives.
There is no down side to removing them, or anything you need to be cautious with.
Children with autism can be highly affected by artificial ingredients, as they are very high in phenols. Many children on the spectrum have difficulty with their sulfation detoxification pathway, and the enzymes required to breakdown pehnols. That means they cannot process artificial ingredients, and they build up in the body, creating toxins which affect the central nervous system. This can make autism symptoms worse.
Go to your cupboard and get rid of all the foods which have artificial ingredients: colours, preservatives, flavours, nitrites, emulsifiers etc.
You also have to be careful when you are eating out.
Let’s take a Big Mac as an example.
This contains many additives that you should avoid:
- 202 Potassium sorbate – can be contaminated with lead, mercury or arsenic
- 211 Sodium benzoate – linked to ADHD and can be an allergen.
- 405 Propylene glycol alginate – an ingredient in anti-freeze, and linked to skin rashes
#2 Monosodium glutamate
This one gets a little complicated!
I will break it down into 3 categories
- MSG added directly to foods
- Additives used instead of MSG to avoid labelling, but which are essentially the same thing
- Naturally occurring MSG-like compounds in foods
MSG added directly to food
MSG is an excito-toxin. That means it causes brain cells to get excited, and damages them in the process. This leads to brain inflammation, a big issue in kids with ASD or ADHD. MSG makes the brain think a food tastes good, and makes you want to eat more and more of it. Basically, it will make your child addicted to the food, which means they will want to eat the foods with MSG and nothing else.
Food companies know that MSG has a bad reputation, so you will rarely see MSG written on a label anymore.
When reading labels, you need to be aware of all the different names that can be used for MSG:
- 620 L -glutamic acid
- 621 Monosodium glutamate, L-
- 622 Monopotassium glutamate, L-
- 623 Calcium glutamate, Di-L-
- 624 Monoammonium glutamate, L-
- 625 Magnesium glutamate, Di-L-
- 627 Disodium guanylate, 5’-
- 631 Disodium inosinate, 5’-
- 635 Disodium ribonucleotides, 5’-
Fast food places, cafes and restaurants may use MSG, and you won’t be aware of it.
Additives used instead of MSG to avoid labelling, but which are essentially the same thing
Even food that say ‘No MSG’ will often contain hydrolysed vegetable protein, soy protein extract and yeast extract, which are chemically the same as MSG when dissolved in water. The glutamate has been released from the protein by a chemical reaction. The free glutamate acts the same way as MSG to enhance the flavour.
Foods which may contain compounds which are chemically the same as MSG
- Stocks cubes and concentrates
- Sauces such as soy, fish, oyster etc
- Spreads such as Vegemite
- Instant noodles
Naturally occurring MSG-like compounds
Even eating too much of glutamate which occurs naturally in food can be a problem.
Examples of foods naturally high in glutamates include:
- hard cheeses like parmesan
- tomato concentrates and sauces
Other problems associated with too much MSG or similar compounds are migraines, hyperactivity, heartburn, diarrhoea, nausea, bloating, depression and respiratory issues.
#3 Artificial sweeteners
These can be called:
- 950 Acesulphame-K
- 951 Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal)
- 952 Cyclamates
- 954 Saccharin
- 955 Sucralose
These are the additives in ‘Diet’ products – diet coke, diet yoghurts etc.
They deplete nutrients such as chromium from the body, and make us crave sugar. They don’t help with weight loss.
Again, like MSG these are damaging to our brain. Studies have shown that people with pre-existing mental illness are particularly susceptible to the damage from artificial sweeteners.
#4 Transfats and hydrogenated fats
Transfats were invented because of the fear which was built around saturated fat. Then, transfats were found to be even more harmful to health than saturated fats. Natural fat is always going to be better than a manufactured fat. These fats are made by using chemicals and heavy metals to turn liquid vegetable oil into solid ones. Similar to the plastic making process. These displace omega 3 fatty acids in the body, a huge issue for ASD and ADHD kids who are already deficient in omega 3 fatty acids
Avoid margarine / spread, commercial baked goods, deep fried foods.
# 5 Pesticides
Pesticides kill insects, but we have been told they don’t kill us, as we don’t have the ‘shikimate pathway’. As we learn more about the human microbiome, we realise we are more bacterial cells than we are human. Eating non organic, pesticide laden food is destroying our gut health. Gut health is implicated in so many health issues: ASD, ADHD, depression, eczema and asthma to name but a few.
Get started today!
If you need help with meal plans or recipes, or need more specific help for your family, please make an appointment with me and I can help you get started on your journey to help.