I’ve spent this past weekend in London at the CAMExpo 2010, a dedicated complementary healthcare event.
The event featured discussions, lectures, workshops and stalls. It was a great opportunity to connect with people within the CAM industry and learn and refresh my knowledge, as well as re-affiriming my belief in the huge power of nutrition.
One lecture I attended was led by Alison Peacham of the ION, on Children’s Health – The Power of Nutrition. I wanted to attend this lecture as a nutritionist and as a mum, and I’m very happy to share my notes from that lecture here with you.
The lecture focused on the many gastro-intestinal problems that are common in children, and the nutritional path to helping these conditions.
Firstly, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of 4-18 year olds was recapped. If you’re not familiar with this survey, you can read more about it and order the findings report here. For this article, I want to mention two conclusions of the survey in particular:
- Our children are overfed but undernourished
- Our older children are deficient in most minerals
To me, these two statements really re-affirm the need for us as parents and professionals to improve our children’s nutrition, and the good news is that children respond faster to nutritional therapy than we can as adults because they don’t have the decades of toxins and bad habits to correct.
So why are gut problems so important in children? I think there are 3 main reasons:
- The state of our gut is a reflection of the state our body is in – when we notice the physical symptoms of gut problems it is an early opportunity to correct things
- Gut problems amongst children are associated with neuro problems, depression, Autism and ADHD, amongst other things
- The physical discomfort or pain of the child’s physical symptoms should be motivation enough to overcome the problem
Here’s a quick look at some of the most common gastro-intestinal problems amongst children:
Functional Abdominal Pain
Functional Abdominal Pain (FAP) is common amongst children, causing painful bloating and leading to problems with anxiety and depression.
Recommended Action: doctor’s diagnosis followed by stool and parasitology tests
Food Sensitivities and Allergies
The common response to a suspected sensitivity or allergy is an elimination diet, but this must be done responsibly. The diet must be altered to ensure there are no loss of nutrients by eliminating foods.
If there are several sensitivities then these are a reflection that the gut needs further support to avoid, or correct, leaky gut. Leaky gut is linked with eczema and auto-immune disorders.
Recommended Action: finger prick blood test, dietary changes, supplementation of enzymes (for a short period) and probiotics
A child with a healthy digestive system should be passing 1-3 easy stools each day. While constipation can have a genetic component, nutritional therapy can still assist.
Recommended Action: test for lactose intolerance, introduce diluted prune juice, increase dietary magnesium intake
Finally, I want to make a quick point about lactose intolerance. Parents often ask me what they should do when they discover their child is lactose intolerant. There are two key things:
- Replace cow’s milk for rice, oat, almond or coconut milk – never soya milk for children
- Increase dietary calcium intake
If you’re concerned that your child may be affected by gastro-intestinal problems, contact me for a free, informal chat about what to do.