At Brainstorm Health, we equip ourselves with a diverse arsenal of tools to support the individuals we work with on their path to better health. From targeted nutritional supplements and micro-immunotherapy to probiotics and therapeutic treatments like Epsom salt baths and castor oil packs, we explore a broad spectrum of approaches. However, before delving into these supplementary solutions, there is a fundamental element that is key to long-term health gains: diet.
Without a doubt, diet is the cornerstone upon which we build the edifice of health and well-being. Getting the diet right can be the single most transformative factor in the journey to improved health, particularly for children on the autism spectrum and those with ADHD, PANDAS, and PANS. We understand that dietary changes can be challenging, but our experienced practitioners are here to support you every step of the way.
One of the most vital aspects of optimising diet is maintaining stable blood sugar levels. This essential foundation plays a pivotal role in regulating the stress response and ensuring optimal metabolic function. It all begins with a simple yet crucial step: ensuring that your child starts their day with a high-protein breakfast. This step alone can help prevent blood sugar spikes, setting the stage for a more balanced, focused, and productive day.
The answer is as unique as the individual health challenges that each child faces. For many of the children we work with, a gluten- and/or casein-free (GF/CF) diet has proven to be transformative. Gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley-based products, and casein, found in most dairy products, can lead to “leaky gut” in sensitive individuals, potentially causing a systemic inflammatory response. Recent studies have even shown how dietary gluten can trigger neuroinflammation in mice.
In our clinical practice, we’ve consistently witnessed the removal of gluten and/or casein from a child’s diet, resulting in remarkable reductions in distressing physical and behavioural symptoms. For instance, one of our recent patients reported significant improvements in fine motor skills, cognitive function, reading ability, and emotional well-being after making this dietary shift. Another patient observed improved digestion, enhanced calmness, better focus, and improved sleep patterns just days after adopting a GF diet.
Beyond GF/CF, there exist various diets that have shown promise for individuals facing neurological challenges. These include the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), and the ketogenic diet, among others. It may also become necessary to craft a bespoke diet, eliminating specific trigger foods that have been identified through clinical evaluation or laboratory testing. These triggers could range from glutamate, histamine, phenols, and salicylates to oxalates. Working closely with a qualified practitioner is crucial for identifying these triggers and designing an appropriate dietary plan.
It’s important to note that elimination diets might not be required in the long term, and prolonged adherence to such restrictive diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies and increased food sensitivities. In some cases, a short-term elimination of pro-inflammatory foods and known triggers, combined with increased intake of high-quality proteins, fats, and nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory whole foods, can facilitate healing and pave the way for reintroducing previously intolerable foods.
At Brainstorm Health, we’ve developed a 30-day Body Reset Plan, which our practitioners may recommend as a highly effective approach when there is evidence of inflammation, blood sugar dysregulation, dysbiosis, or poor digestive function. This protocol is based on removing common inflammatory triggers such as refined sugar, gluten, dairy products, grains, and highly processed foods. Simultaneously, it encourages the intake of nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory foods like high-quality animal-based proteins, whole fruits and vegetables, and traditional fats, laying the groundwork for a healthier diet.
We understand that such a dietary transformation may seem daunting, particularly for parents of children who have selective eating habits or a preference for sugar and refined carbohydrates. However, for those who can manage it, the benefits of following the Body Reset Plan can far outweigh the initial challenge. It may even be more manageable than you anticipate, especially if the whole family embarks on this journey together.
In the realm of complex health challenges, a holistic, multi-faceted approach is essential. Functional medicine embraces targeted nutritional supplements, environmental considerations, and genetic factors in promoting optimal health. Yet, never lose sight of the pivotal role that a wholesome diet plays as the bedrock of good health. Recognize the profound impact diet can have on healing, and embrace its potential as a powerful tool for your child’s well-being.