ADHD – Autism and Gut Health


8 Things that you can Implement to Improve Your ADHD Child’s Gut Health

Digestion & Enzymes How they Relate to Autism & ADHD

Science is pretty clear. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees: There is a strong connection between brain function, behavior and the digestive system.  Scientists have specifically drawn a connection between gut health and many disorders, including autism and ADHD.

We know that the gut – and specifically, the millions upon millions of bacteria within it – interact with the brain in multiple ways, including the immune system and the nervous system. We also know that your gut actually has its own complex network of neurons that is referred to as the Enteric Nervous System (often called our “Second Brain”). {Read more about your Second Brain & ADHD here}

When they say “complex” they really mean it! Here are just a few fun facts:

  • There are actually more neurons directly surrounding your child’s gastrointestinal tract than in their entire spinal cord!
  • Ninety percent of your child’s serotonin levels (an essential neurotransmitter) are housed in the gut – not the brain in your head!
  • Those food allergies so many people talk about – you know, gluten, dairy, dyes, artificial sugar, etc.? At the most basic level, allergies generate histamines. Histamines compete with dopamine, another essential neurotransmitter. More histamine means less dopamine and more mental health dysfunction. Many scientists have made the not-so-big leap to claim that food allergies can cause depressive-symptoms, brain fog, anxiety, and general irritability.

Ok, now that I have Your Attention HERE are 8 Things that you can Implement to Improve Your ADHD Child’s Gut Health
Below I’ve listed eight interventions you can use.

  1.  Supplementation: Begin your child on high-quality pre- and probiotics.
  2. Diet: Begin regularly feeding your kiddo foods that contain both pre – and probiotics.
  1. Talk to Your Doctor: Visit your doctor to discuss any bowel issues your child may be experiencing. In the event your medical doctor doesn’t have any helpful suggestions – or you’re hungry for more information – consider visiting a more holistic practitioner, like a chiropractor, Certified Digestive wellness Specialist and Health coach, or ADHD coach / therapist.
  1. Monitor: Keep track of your kid’s behavior before and after certain foods. Use a journal or food diary to connect the food to how your kid feels and acts after eating. If you notice any correlations, take that information with you to see an immunologist or gastroenterologist.
  1. Testing: Get your children tested for food allergies or sensitivities, and see what pops up. Obviously, if there is something you confirm as a food to avoid, eliminate it from your child’s diet.
  1. Restrictive Diets: Try the GAPS diet or Feingold Diet. Experts and acquaintances claim these diets heal many issues related to poor gut health and restores health.
  1. Elimination Diets: Go for a full-fledged Elimination Diet. Before embarking on your journey into Elimination Land, talk to a physician or nutritionist to ensure that you continuing to provide your child the nutrients he or she needs during this time period.
  2. Digestive Enzymes

Our kid’s guts are damaged and need help in the repair process. But to assist in that, digestive enzymes are needed to completely break down the foods and peptides for several reasons:

Some Digestive Enzyme Facts:

  • Enzymes are proteins made by cells in our bodies and all living organisms.
  • Enzymes exist in all raw food.  All raw foods, including meats, have some enzyme activity.
  • The more raw food you eat, the less digestive enzymes your body needs to produce.
  • Cooking or other types of processing destroys enzyme activity.
  • Digestive enzymes, used properly, can provide a substantial benefit to most everyone, especially those consuming a great deal of cooked or processed food.

Digestive enzymes can help issues such as constipation and the other maldigestion and malaborption issues.   Once better digestion happens, the gut can start to heal with all the other gut healing  And the maldigestion/malaborption will be corrected with enzymes.
If getting your child to swallow a pill is an issue, Enzymes will mix with food or beverages –  Just pull the capsule open, and empty it out. If you use less than an entire capsule, you can just click the capsule back together and use the rest of the enzymes later. The taste and smell of enzyme products vary a great deal, which you may want to mask with fruit juice, ketchup, etc. Other products have no taste or smell at all. Please be careful to not inhale the enzyme powder, and to clear any residual enzyme powder from the mouth and throat area with additional food or beverage. Just make sure your child wipes their mouth after taking the enzymes.

Do I Need Enzymes While on GF/CF Diet?
One reason for enzyme use while on the gf/cf diet is to completely digest all foods (especially sugars from carbohydrate foods) to reduce or shut off the food supply for dysbiotic flora (aka: bacteria/yeast). Another reason is the dietary shift itself. When you exclude a class of foods (i.e. gluten/dairy), another class or other classes are usually increased.  If you’re not familiar with the types of enzymes and what they digest, here is a summary of the main digestive enzymes:

  • Amylase  – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars (found in fruits, vegetables, potatoes and a lot of snack foods)
  • Protease  – breaks down proteins (found in meats, eggs, cheese, and nuts)
  • Lipase  –   breaks down fats (found in most dairy products, meats, oils, and nuts)
  • Cellulase  – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber (will also breakdown time-release medications that use a form of cellulose in their outer coating)

One digestive enzyme that tends to be insufficient in a lot of ASD kids, as well as kids with ADHD, is DDP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV).  This enzyme is found in the gut and is responsible for breaking a bond between amino acids in peptides formed during protein digestion. Problems occur when there is a lack of DDP4 which causes incomplete digestion of the gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) molecules, leaving a mischievous peptide. In the case of damaged or leaky guts, these peptides called gluteomorphin (gluten) and caseomorphin (casein) can pass into the blood, where they do harm because they evoke an immune response. They can also mimic endorphins that cause changes in perception, mood, and behavior.  This is one reason why the gf/cf (gluten free/casein free) diet is so effective in reducing behaviors in kids with autism. It’s the elimination of the offending peptides from the diet.
Digestive enzymes have been one of the integral parts of helping children with Autism and ADHD  biomedical treatment and instrumental in healing his gut.

Finally, do your own research and get educated. The science in this area is constantly evolving. Find a physician who is staying on top of the medical research,  or ADHD coaches that can help develop better gut health for your child or make an appointment with me.  As a Digestive Wellness Specialist and using the Loomis program I  will be able to  determined exactly which enzyme your child is in need of with out the guess work.

There is an unmistakable connection between the importance of proper digestion and the occurrence of many recurring and nagging health complaints such as allergies, migraine headaches,  depression, autism and ADHD, as well as other digestive disorders that may occur with with these conditions.

The Dr. Loomis  screening procedure is the best early warning system available today, to Identify the reasons behind the symptoms – don’t just cover them up.

  • It gives us biochemical evidence of what food(s) your body is having a difficult time digesting and assimilating. Your diet plays an enormous role in how you feel and how you maintain health.
  • You will be able to readily modify your diet according to your body’s needs. Individuality is the cornerstone of this program.
  • You will find out the reasons why you feel the way you do.

I am very excited about what this program can do for your child.
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Have a fabulous day!!

Rhonda Torossian LDWS