How Can Nutrition Support Your Child?

Whatever they eat and how ever it's absorbed, that is all a child's brain has to learn, grow, and develop. 


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If you child has an autism diagnosis, you've probably wondered if special diets, supplements, or specialized lab testing can be helpful. Judy Converse has been an expert in this niche of nutrition practice since 1999. She has both attended and lectured at Defeat Autism Now!, AutismOne, US Autism and Aspergers Association, and National Autism Society conference proceedings, authored a learning module for health professionals on autism and nutrition screening, published three books on the topic, and penned several articles for professionals and parents on nutrition, special diets, biomedical interventions, and autism. As a licensed nutrition professional, Judy has additional expertise in monitoring food intakes and growth patterns to monitor safety and efficacy of special diets. Judy can facilitate access to specialized lab studies commonly used in biomedical intervention, help families discern when labs will augment nutrition care, and streamline supplement protocols. Judy also works with biomedical MD providers nationwide to support clients already in their care for nutrition specifics. No matter where you are in the process, you can get help at Nutrition Care For Children.


Discern between allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance and make a workable plan for your child

Life threatening food allergies, asthma, food protein intolerance, and other reactions to foods have risen many fold in US children since 1980. Children with food allergies have poorer food intakes and more nutrient deficiencies than allergy-free peers. Whatever the specific reaction is, inflammatory responses to foods can cause irritability, growth problems, weak appetite, chronic stomach pain and bowel problems, or reflux. Addressing these can reduce many symptoms, lessen dependence on asthma medications, and may even make asthma attacks and infections less frequent.

If you suspected your child has food allergies, but did testing that showed there were none, chances are you were right! The problem is that the more testing may be needed to get the whole picture. Allergies are mediated by immune proteins called immunoglobulin E (IgE) and histamines. Reactions show up very quickly when a trigger food is eaten, as hives, vomiting, stomach pain, or wheezing. But delayed allergies - food sensitivities - can also occur. These are mediated by a different immune protein called immunoglobulin G (IgG). IgG responses occur more slowly - over several hours or even days - and remain in the bloodstream for weeks or months at a time.

IgG food antibody responses are rarely checked by allergists and pediatricians. But studies show they can interfere with growth and feeding in infants and young children. They may also trigger chronic diarrhea, irritable mixed stools, bloating, poor picky appetites, heightened sensory irritability, eczema, inflammation in intestinal tissue, and more frequent infections. If your child has asthma, other allergies, or any of the symptoms mentioned here on an ongoing basis, rule out IgG food antibody responses. Judy can create a care plan for your child around this that assures a safe, adequate, and non-inflammatory diet.


Your child may be able to improve without psychiatric medications

Since nutrition so impacts behavior, learning, and cognition in children, you can work with it regardless of whether you've chosen medication for ADD/ADHD. Several individual nutrients as well as a child's total diet profoundly impact learning outcomes. Find out which of these may be most affecting your child, and what nutrition tools may help him or her function to potential. Judy can help you identify and replenish your child's nutrition deficits. Even children in good health and strong nutrition status can benefit from targeted supplementation that enriches pathways in the brain for focus and attention. If you are already using a pharmaceutical treatment, the right nutrition support can improve medication response and clarify treatment choices.


There are promising natural supports now in clinical review

There are over sixty neurotransmitters that regulate mood, sleep, focus, fear, stress response, and other emotional states in humans. Their chemistry is complex, and how to manage these with medications is still not fully understood. Medications can have challenging side effects, especially for young children. Interest is growing in the use of naturally occurring compounds - both herbs and amino acids - to gently support pathways that impact serotonin, dopamine, cortisol, or excitatory/inhibitory neurotransmitters. Rhodiola rosea, St. Johns Wort, N-acetyl cysteine, 5-hydroxytryptophan, carnosine, tyrosine, taurine, and eicosapentanoic acid are just a few examples of substances that have shown effectiveness for anxiety, mood problems, obsessive compulsive disorder, and autism. If you would like to see what is in clinical review right now, click here and place your search term in the search engine provided.

Children should not mix psychiatric medications with these substances without professional guidance, as they can have synergistic effects. Judy has helped children safely use these natural tools to abate anxiety and mood issues while you work with your MD prescriber, or can help you choose a safe and gentle protocol that is pharmaceutical-free. 


Gastrotomy tubes, oral tactile issues, reflux, and more

There are many causes for low food intakes in children with special needs like autism, sensory integration disorder, or other developmental concerns. Even small deficits for total intakes can profoundly affect children, when they persist beyond a month or two. Judy has experience with these intractable cases, from finding alternatives that work better in your child's tube feeding, to diminishing oral tactile defensiveness and reflux with naturopathic nutrition tools. Your child deserves to fullfill his intended growth pattern and enjoy a replenished nutritional state - which will help learning, functioning, and immune function. If your child is not progressing on a tube feed, or if s/he continues to struggle with reflux, weight gain, constipation or weak eating pattern, or is not gaining weight as expected, consider a series of nutrition sessions to sort missing pieces and discover new solutions.


Ketogenic diets, modified Atkins, and more

Ketogenic diets have helped reduce seizures in some cases - but it is a difficult diet for children and families to follow, and is not ideal to support growth. Other nutrition measures may trigger some of the same benefits without the extreme carbohydrate restriction. These include identifying and treating intestinal infections for Candida, Clostridia, or other undesirable gut microbes; using high dose pyridoxine or pyridoxal-5-phosphate with magnesium; or modulating NMDA receptors in the brain with amino acids that balance glutamine and gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA). Still more improvement may occur when foods that form opiate-like compounds in children with autism are eliminated. Schedule a consult if you would like to explore nutrition supports for seizures. Be sure to discuss any changes you are considering for seizure control with your child's neurologist.