Happy Halloween! 3 Tips To Make Your Child’s Day Healthier.

I may not be very popular for saying this, but the truth is we have got to stop feeding our kids crap on holidays like Halloween! 

This goes double for children under the age of 5.

Sugar is a drug.

Artificial flavors and colors are drugs.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOS) are altering our kids gut microbiomes causing our children to behave like they are on some kind of drug.

Guess what the average Halloween candy is made up of? 

Sugar, artificial flavors/colors, GMOS.

Is that what you really want for your child?

I recently saw a Facebook meme talking about how “brave” teachers are for teaching your kid the day after Halloween.  

Why is that because your kids are basically going through a drug withdrawal??!!

Is that what you really want for your child with Down syndrome who already has a compromised immune system and detox pathways?

It’s also very possible your child already has behavior issues ( I know because Ava does and I am very careful with what foods are put in her body). 

Why are we adding fuel to the fire?

Here are my 3 best tips of what to do instead:

  1. Offer a gift basket for all the Halloween candy.  This may include anything a child enjoys I would even say it’s ok to put some organic candy in there (if your child is 5 or older) or raisins  for the little ones.  Also kids seem to really like tattoos and pencils/pens.  The one thing I would say is make sure it’s good and has one decent gift inside that they have been asking for (it will be easier to get the candy out of their clutches.)  If you need help get a switch witch to make it more magical or if they are older wean them slowly.  Maybe they get the gift basket + can keep 5 pieces of candy the next year take it down to 4 pieces and so on.  This should not be a power struggle. Do what works for your family, but don’t give completely in. Changes must be made to reduce the amount to toxins in your child’s diet.
  2. Set the example.  If you are firing down Halloween candy, um then your kid is going to expect to do the same.  Halloween candy isn’t good for anyone.  It reduces the function of the immune system, increases metabolic risks such as diabetes and heart disease, and feeds candida which is a huge issue for more people than anyone every thought possible.
  3. Get other parents on board. See if you can influence you friends, family, and peers parents.  It will be a lot easier to do if others are also doing it.  I can guarantee you there are more parents looking to make Halloween healthier than you thought.  They are definitely around.  We must ban together.  

You got this mama!  

I would love to hear from you!  How do you make Halloween healthier?

If you haven’t already grab your FREE copy of the Bliss 21 Club Mama Guide created for mom’s who have a child with Down syndrome.  It is full of helpful wellness/health information.

In abundant health,

Gail

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Are You Using This Toxic Medication Daily For Your Child With Down Syndrome?

So your T21 kiddo is constipated, right?  This is so incredibly common in our community the majority of my clients with Down syndrome have fallen in this boat.  In fact I would say this is often the main reason for their parents seeking out my help. 

Scientifically speaking, in my master’s of nutrition program, we learned that constipation is when the large intestine removes too much water thus making stools hard and compact, but the question is why is this happening so often to our kids with Down syndrome?

 If you are looking to relieve constipation in the general population the answer is typically pretty easy. 

Stop.Eating.Dairy.

This is of course slightly exaggerated, but you get the point.  Other tips may include go gluten free or visit a chiropractor, drink more water, increase fiber, etc., but in all seriousness that’s really about it. 

Now you take your child with Down syndrome and try to fix their constipation and it is like a whole complex condition that may need multiple angles to be resolved.  Now I would recommend taking action and doing the same things you would do for any other child, but you are most likely going to have to add in some other tricks.

Also keep in mind, Down syndrome or not chronic constipation is not always caused by the same thing!!

So what is causing this chronic constipation in our children with Down syndrome.  I think the better question is what is NOT causing this issue.

Heavy metals, yeast, pathogens, processed foods including sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, corn, dehydration, low muscle tone, low enzyme count, inflammation, compromised detox pathways, thyroid dysfunction and more could all be contributing factors. 

What I am saying is chronic constipation is systematic.  We need to address all of the root causes of the constipation in order to be successful at allowing the body to heal. 

I bet you didn’t get that advice from your doctor, am I right?

Instead doctors tell you to not worry about changing anything else about your child’s lifestyle and give them Miralax daily to resolve the symptom of constipation. 

You see constipation is a symptom and most people just want to suppress their symptoms and I can totally empathize with that, but symptoms are our body’s way of telling us that something is just not right.  So by suppressing the symptom of constipation through the use of a drug like Miralax you are ignoring the body’s message that something is not right.

In other words, you are just putting on a band-aid. How long can your child wear that band-aid made of toxins?

Why is Miralax harmful?

 Miralax contains PEG 3350 which is a toxin that is also found in anti-freeze. According to this news article, over 20,000 adverse effects have been reported and over 100 deaths.  In addition, even the label warns not to give to children under 17 and for no longer than 7 days. There have also been reports of children experiencing neuropsychiatric symptoms such as seizures, tics, and behavior issues. 

Do you think that these issues may be hard to diagnose in a child with Down syndrome? 

Considering our kids already have neurological issues going on I would say heck yes and your doctor may very likely brush it under the rug and putting it under the umbrella of “things that kids with Down syndrome do.”

So why is your pediatrician or GI doctor recommending this for your child? You would have to ask them that question. 

In the meantime, I highly recommend you look for natural alternatives. 

So what should you do instead?

Feed your child a whole food diet high in fiber with foods like fruit, vegetables, and legumes. 

Remove dairy, gluten, soy, corn, processed foods and sugar. 

Give your child plenty of filtered water.  Remove fruit juice.

Add in healthy fats such as avocado, ghee, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.

Eat fermented foods such as dairy free yogurt, kombucha, and pickles.

Research detox baths and start giving them regularly.

Do these things for 30 days with no cheating. 

If your child is still having chronic constipation after, seek out a health professional who understands the nutritional and biochemical needs of a child with Down syndrome. 

  The above diet I recommend will help your child be healthier even if he or she does not struggle with constipation.

I believe your child with Down syndrome can thrive!

If you haven’t already grab your free copy of The Blissful Mama Guide, it’s packed full of health and wellness information just for you mom!

In abundant health,

Gail

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The 5 Supplements You Need to Keep Your Family Healthy During This Cold/Flu Season.

Here we go folks heading into the dreaded cold/flu season and I want nothing more than to provide you valuable tips that will make this season the healthiest for your family! 

For families who have a child with Down syndrome this time of year can be even more frightening due to a compromised immune system.  Read on to learn how to protect your loved one.

  1. Vitamin D- The sunshine vitamin which is often blamed for the resurgence of viruses such as the cold and flu in fall/winter months due to lower levels of-you guessed it sunshine.  So what to do?  I recommend my clients supplement at the very least from October through May, unless you live somewhere tropical.

Here in Connecticut you would have to stand in your bathing suit outside in the winter to receive enough sunlight to manufacture the right level of vitamin D.  Hmmm…no thanks! 

Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and easy to take.  I buy the drops for my kiddos.  Another important note I want to make is how much vitamin D to take which will vary greatly person to person.  The standard recommendation you would get from the mainstream medical community are much too low.  For example, unless we are talking about infants we should not be talking about dosing in hundreds IU, but instead thousands IU.  Infants must remain at a daily dose well under 1000 IU or 400IU is typically recommended which I agree with.  Young children can take anywhere from 1000 IU-4000 IU and adults 4000 IU to 10,000 IU. 

It is very rare to overdose on this vitamin, but can happen to if you are taking a high dose to resolve a deficiency proven in blood work or are an infant.  In this case make sure to recheck the blood work on a regular basis.  The goal is to have a blood level in the mid to higher range of the standard 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Web Md recommends 20-50 ng/mL. 

I disagree and  much prefer the range of 30-100 ng/mL.  Based on my experience, you could have borderline vitamin D deficiency health issues such as poor immune function in vitamin D levels at even 25 ng/mL.  You should be aiming for 50-80 ng/mL and that is why we need to be dosing much higher than previously thought.  

2. Zinc- Another supplement that is difficult to overdose on is zinc.  It does, however, need to be in balance with copper.  The majority of kids with Down syndrome have low zinc levels and high copper levels.  Many multi-mineral supplements use typical biochemistry and add in copper.  Our kids with Down syndrome do not have typical biochemistry. I do not recommend adding in additional copper without blood work for a child with Down syndrome.  You want to find a supplement with zinc alone or a multi-mineral with no copper which will probably be very difficult to find.  

3. Beta Glucan- a new supplement I have added to my family’s and client’s immune-boosting arsenal just in the past couple of years.  It’s super safe and highly effective. Beta Glucan is a soluble fiber that works by stimulating the thymus gland.  The thymus gland is responsible for maturing T cells which are critical for our immune function.

Does your child with Down syndrome have a thymus gland? 

If they had Open Heart Surgery (OHS) like Ava did and it was not discussed then most likely it was removed during surgery.  Yes this sucks, but don’t be too discouraged- beta glucan still works even without a thymus and it has really helped Ava’s immune response.

By the way, even if your child didn’t have OHS, children with Down syndrome generally have a small, misshaped thymus gland that doesn’t work as well as thymus glands in the typical population. You can give a very low dose year round or school year round and increase the dose during illness.

4. Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid/Camu Camu- I bet this is not the first time you have heard to use vitamin c to prevent illness, but did you also know that is helps with oxidative stress which is not only higher in children with Down syndrome, but oxidative stress also effects the immune system’s function?

  I have listed a couple of different types of vitamin c to give you some options. 

Ascorbic acid is probably the most well known and popular vitamin c options.  The nice thing about ascorbic acid is it can be buffered to keep it more gentle on the tummy and it allows for higher dosing. 

Whether you are dosing for a child or adult you never want to take more than 500mg at a time simply because your body cannot absorb it.  So it would be best to split up the doses throughout the day 3-4 times. 

Some people don’t like ascorbic acid because it’s processed.  I would agree that you want to find a very high quality brand and if that’s still not your thing you can use camu camu instead. 

 Camu camu is a superfood with more vitamin c than any other whole food.  As previously mentioned you will have to take much more than the ascorbic acid dose to get the same amount of vitamin c, but there are additional benefits to taking vitamin c in a whole food form such as other nutrients in the food that will help with immune function and absorption of the vitamin c itself. 

Play around with it and find what works for your family. My family uses both ascorbic acid and camu camu. To read more about camu camu’s health benefits check out this article. 

5. Elderberry syrup-  Oh my!  I saved the best for last!  You must have been hiding under a rock if you didn’t see somewhere, someone on social media talking about elderberry last couple of years. 

This stuff is super powerful and delicious might I add.  It has super duper anti-viral properties and I highly encourage you to grab some now before the season gets in swing and then it gets on backorder (this happened last year). You can certainly make your own, but I found a kind I like that adds the benefits of raw honey and apple cider vinegar. 

Check out this study done on how elderberry did in fact help treat the flu compared to placebo.   If you are afraid of the flu and let’s face it you should at least be aware and proactive about protecting your child from it, EVEN if your child had the flu shot-yes the flu shot is typically only 10% effective, but that is a discussion for another day. 

Get some elderberry syrup and get on with your life.

 My additional recommendations as always to increase health, focus on whole foods, bone broth, fermented foods, and decrease or eliminate processed foods.

I would love to hear from you!  What tricks do you have to keep your family healthy during the cold/flu season?

If you haven’t already grabbed your copy of “The Bliss 21 Club Mama Guide,” created for mom’s who have a child with Down syndrome.  Do it now!  It’s filled with practical health/wellness advice. 

If you have questions about his article or would like to learn more about my services don’t hesitate to send me a note to gail@blissnutritionct.com.

In abundant health,

Gail

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The ONE Food Rule That Will Change Your Life

I know that changing your life is a big promise, but here’s the thing…eating doesn’t really have to be all that complicated.

Even as a nutritionist and professional in healthy eating sometimes I have to be reminded of good food rules.  On occasion I will pull out my massive book stash and see what message my intuition leads me to.  

“The Body Ecology Diet.” by Donna Gates

I begin to flip through the book.  I know I am a big fan of fermented foods already which is very important in this diet, but then I land on a page with a very simple, yet profound message.  

“Stop eating when you are 80% full.  Leave 20% left for digestion.”

WOW.  I mean I think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we all tend to overeat at least on occasion because we want to make sure we are full.  We also know we probably shouldn’t.  The reason why is what I find so interesting.  Our digestive system NEEDS room to do it’s work.  

We NEED room in our stomach to digest our food.  We shouldn’t be topping off our stomach like a gas tank.  Doing this just doesn’t show our body love.  

Digestion is SO important to our health.  If we are not digesting food properly than we are not assimilating nutrients correctly and this leads to lots of health issues.

Children with Down syndrome are already at a disadvantage when it comes to digestion.  They lack stomach acid and digestive enzymes.  This is a couple of the reasons so many of our kids end up on heartburn or constipation medication. 

My biochemistry professor always used to joke that we live in the land (America) of “overnutrition.”  In other words, we are getting more macronutrients which are the fats, carbs, and proteins then we need, but we are falling very short on micronutrients which are those precious vitamins and minerals.  

Too much food, but not enough nutrients.  It’s a huge problem and is exasperated by our love for food like substances such as processed foods and fast foods like McDonalds.  

We are sick and our children are sick.  

Did you know our children are the first generation in history that are not expected to live longer than we will?

Let that sink in for a minute.  Our children are going to have a shorter lifespan then us.

I’m not ok with that and that is why I do what I do.  

If you need help reach out.  I can be reached via email gail@blissnutritionct.com.

If you haven’t already grabbed your copy of “The Bliss 21 Club Mama Guide,” created for mom’s who have a child with Down syndrome.  Do it now!  It’s filled with practical health/wellness advice.

Eat nutrient-dense foods till 80% full.  Set the example and hopefully your kiddos will follow!

In abundant health,

Gail

 

 

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3 Foods That Will Boost Those Happy Chemicals in Kids with Down syndrome

There are many brain chemicals also known as neurotransmitters that affect behavior and that are altered in the brains of individuals with Down syndrome.  For our purposes today we will be focusing on serotonin and how we can use foods to influence this brain chemical.

According to Wikipedia, Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter and is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.  You may recall that some anti-depressants such as Prozac affect a person’s serotonin level, but is it possible to raise serotonin with plain old food?

It has been well researched that individuals with Down syndrome tend to have lower levels of serotonin.  So what can we do food-wise to address this?  I want to be very clear here.  Diet alone very well may not be enough to increase serotonin levels to normal levels especially those with Down syndrome, but eating these foods should help and certainly worth a shot!

 Foods don’t technically contain serotonin, however, they do contain tryptophan which is the precursor to serotonin.  Be sure to eat these foods with healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potato, oats, brown rice, or if tolerated sprouted whole grains to help with absorption. 

  1. Wild Salmon- Please, please, please no matter what you do be sure you are buying wild salmon.  Why?  Farm-raised salmon are not only not as nutrient-dense but they may contain toxic ingredients such as artificial food coloring that is added to their food to make you think they are consuming their natural diet of krill.  This is a lie! Krill are small bright orangey-red fish that is the wild salmons natural diet giving them that pinkish/reddish/orangish color.  Wild salmon contains around 400 milligrams of tryptophan and is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which are also great for brain health..
  2. Pastured Eggs- Notice I didn’t say free-range or organic, although those eggs are healthier than factory-farmed also known as “regular” eggs, but the goal is really to get pastured eggs.  Why?  They are far more nutrient-dense and taste better too!  When chickens are allowed to eat from their natural environment their egg yokes will become a firm, bright orange versus pale yellow that falls apart.  Also please stop throwing out the yoke as it is the most nutrient-dense part of the egg.  Egg yolks have very high levels of tryptophan and as well as choline which is a crucial nutrient for individuals with Down syndrome.
  3. Nuts/Seeds- Ok so the one caveat to this is please make sure to properly prepare them.  Nuts/Seeds need to be soaked and then dried on low temperature preferable using a dehydrator.  This will reduce the phytic acid levels that are in most nuts/seeds.  Phytic acid affects how our bodies are able to absorb nutrients.  All nuts/seeds contain tryptophan so choose your favorites and keep in mind that peanuts are legumes and are also moldy so not recommended.  Almonds should also be used with caution because they are pasteurized and therefore not as nutrient-dense as the rest.  I like to add brazil nuts to smoothies because they are kind of funky to eat but contain a large amount of selenium which is a necessary nutrient for proper thyroid function.  Since thyroid function tends to be an issue for so many individuals with Down syndrome this may be a good nut to give a try.  

I would love to hear from you!  What is your favorite way to serve these foods?  Comment below!

Also don’t forget to grab my “Bliss 21 Club Mama Guide.”  It’s the health/wellness I created just for mom’s who have a child with Down syndrome and completely FREE

In abundant health,

Gail

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