Gut-Brain Connection

What’s the connection between the gut and the brain? Everything we eat affects our physical and mental function. Our bowel contains just as many neurotransmitters (chemicals that allow our brain to function well) as the brain! Consider what happens if you have a little too much alcohol! In some people, eating a certain type of food affects them in this way. This is particularly relevant in children (some now adults) with learning, behavioural or autistic disorders.

A decline in healthy gut bacteria is thought to be causing many of the gut and brain disorders being seen in children. Often, other members of the family often suffer from related problems, like asthma, allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or learning difficulties. Poor gut flora may be a family, not just one child’s problem.

Symptoms of Poor Gut Function:

  • Abdominal bloating and/or discomfort
  • Allergies
  • Behavioural outbursts that are difficult to manage.
  • Bowels are abnormal; constipation or mushy, smelly bowel motions.
  • Food cravings, often for sweet, starchy foods, or milk. Some of these foods have a drug-like affect on children, which is why they crave them!
  • Frequent infections
  • Fussy eating habits
  • Sleepy looking children
  • Sleep apnoea (snoring)

 

Why isn’t the Gut Functioning Properly?

Good question! The gut flora is laid down at birth when the newborn passes through the vagina, and starts breastfeeding with colostrum, the first breast milk.

A variety of situations can affect a baby’s ability to get its quota of normal gut bacteria:

  • Medications given during pregnancy
  • Health of mother’s gut flora; irritable bowel syndrome
  • Vaginal thrush of the mother, taking ‘The Pill’ prior to pregnancy
  • Antibiotics or other medications given during labour
  • Caesarian delivery
  • Antibiotics given in the first year of life
  • Medications given to mother while breastfeeding

 

Diet, supplements and avoiding medications can help to restore gut bacteria and normal brain and immune function. Homeopathic medicines can also help normalise gut-brain function.

Gut Function and Immunity

Around 80% of our resistance to infections also relies on healthy gut bacteria. Many children with learning and behavioural disorders also get frequent infections.

Treatment

Diet and nutrition forms the foundation, but not all of, treatment.

These children need diets that contain meat, fish and eggs, fruit and vegetables. Avoiding dairy products, wheat, and other gluten containing foods, sugars and chemicals is important, but each child has their own individual dietary needs. A diet free of aggravating substances allows important gut bacteria to flourish, and to restore mental and physical health.

How do busy parents manage special diets?

Invariably, a busy parent despairs at the thought of making such dietary changes for their child (or children). No question, it is a challenge, but compare effort in the kitchen to the effort involved in managing your child.  When a child becomes calmer, more focused and happier after a few months of dietary correction, it is well worth the effort. A massive amount of support is available for parents following special diets for their children. We provide support and information to this end.

Are other treatments necessary?

While dietary changes often make a huge difference to these children, further treatment is usually necessary. This involves prescribing specific nutrients for each child, some lab testing and individually prescribed homeopathic medicines.

Is it possible for these children to get back to normal?

Many children regain full health to have a normal childhood; the Internet is full of recovery stories. The degree of recovery depends on the severity of the problem, the age treatment is started, and identifying the correct causes of the problem. Recovery requires consistent and sustained effort by both parents and practitioner. By working diligently and together over time, recovery is possible.


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