Everyday Autism Miracles Biomed Mom Question Feb. 26

Shannon Penrod, host of Everyday Autism Miracles on internet radio had a “biomed mom” (me) question on her show this week from a caller in Idaho.

Shannon:  How can I know which biomedical supplements are working?

Joanne:  Well, first of all, I only add or change any supplements/biomeds one at a time. That way you can determine which ones are working or not by charting everything. I chart the date the supplement was started, dosage, the time of day given, and note any behaviors or improvements you see.  You also need to make note of any changes to your child’s schedule, environment, therapies, etc. to make sure that these changes are not affecting certain behaviors or reactions. Then I start looking for things like: are they sleeping better, how are their bowel habits, cognition, social, speech, hyperactivity. Write down everything that happens everyday for a two to four week period.  Then review it and see if the supplement improved or worsened any of your child’s symptoms.

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How My Kids Fight The Flu Season

If my boys were to explain this, it would involve swords and light sabers along with some pretty cool sound effects.  My method is not that dramatic nor fun-filled, but it’s effective.  With the flu season still in full swing where we live, my kids have thus far stayed healthy. They’ve had a few, short-lived colds, but overall, they’ve fared well this winter season.  I didn’t even realize until the other day when a friend was telling me her horror stories about her entire family just getting over the stomach flu, seasonal flu and head colds that my kids did not have any type of flu virus this winter.  First time ever, that I can recall.  How is that, you may wonder? Luck? I don’t think so.

My family does not get annual flu shots. My kids’ bodies just can’t handle the toxic additives that are in the flu vaccinations; it does them more harm than good.  So then how do I protect my kids from the seasonal flu? Well, we have a variety of police patrolling our house and one of them is the “hand washing” police. Everyday when they get home from school, the first thing they have to do is wash their hands. Now I know they aren’t washing their hands before they eat lunch at school; they are kids after all.  So how are they staying healthy?

I believe the secret lies in boosting their immune system to fight off those nasty bugs. The key immune boosters at our house are vitamin D and zinc. Let’s not forget important ones like vitamins C and A, which are also great for fighting colds, but vitamin D has gotten a lot of attention lately for its ability to increase immune activity.

Because humans obtain most vitamin D from sun exposure and not from their diet, a varying percentage of the population is vitamin D deficient, at any time, during any season, although the percentage is higher in the winter. We live in sunny southern California and both of my son’s vitamin D levels were tested and came back low. I know you’re thinking, wow, lots of sunshine and still not high enough vitamin D levels? That’s crazy!  Imagine the levels in kids living in the northernmost hemisphere.

Circumstantial evidence has implicated wintertime low levels of vitamin D to the seasonal increases in colds and flu, but some smaller studies have also hinted at a link between low vitamin D level and a higher risk of respiratory infections.  In one study* the results showed those with the lowest vitamin D levels were 36% more likely to report having a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with higher levels. This association persisted during all four seasons and was even stronger among those with a history or asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Unless you eat a lot of fish and drink a lot of milk, you just can’t get enough vitamin D from your diet. That is why I supplement it at our house every day and don’t wait for a cold to begin.

The other immune booster in our house is zinc. It’s been shown that zinc deficiency impairs the immune response in our bodies. I know that there are popular over-the-counter remedies for treating cold and flu viruses including Zicam and Cold EEZE zinc lozenges.  Problem is, you’re waiting until you get sick to take any form of zinc.  Think preventative, not just curative.

My sons take between 20 – 40 mg. of a zinc supplement every day.  Along with the 1,000 I.U.s of vitamin D3 per day, they are winning the battle against cold and flu viruses.  And to their disbelief, no swords or light sabers were necessary.

* Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed information on vitamin D levels and respiratory infections from nearly 19,000 adults and adolescents who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) from October 1988 to October 1994.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/24/health.vitamind.cold/index.html

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100319/hl_nm/us_vitamind_study

Just say NO! to High-Fructose Corn Syrup

My son’s elementary school promotes the anti-drug campaign Just Say No To Drugs! each year. It’s a wonderful awareness campaign. I really wish they could include high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in that campaign. Does that mean I am comparing HFCS to drugs?  No. But I believe it’s something our kids should be taught to avoid, for their long-term health.  I know, for those of you out there that feel some HFCS won’t hurt and tell me, besides “my kids don’t drink sodas”, well, I may have some news for you. HFCS is in almost everything on the grocery store shelf that requires a sweetener. Why? Because it’s a much cheaper ingredient than sugar in the manufacturing process and it extends shelf life. Cheaper ingredients, extended shelf life means less cost to the consumer. Less cost equates to a  higher volume of products that will fly off  the shelf and into America’s stomach. Ugh!

In case you’re not familiar with what exactly HFCS is, I’ll give you the less technical, modified version of the manufacturing process. First off, it’s an artificial sweetener. Granted, it’s a byproduct of corn (which isn’t artificial) but it is processed in such a way that it becomes artificial. Corn kernels are soaked in warm water containing sulfur dioxide. This warm solution hydrates the kernels and makes it easier to separate its starch, hull, protein and oil components. After soaking, the kernels are wet milled to remove the oil containing germ. In this process, the wet starch is mixed with a weak solution of hydrochloric acid and is heated under pressure. The hydrochloric acid and heat break down the starch molecules and convert them into a sugar.  Next, the remaining corn starch is washed, and three types of enzymes are added to the resulting mixture. The resulting syrup is then place through an evaporation process to create the desired consistency for shipping. Sound natural to you?

Me neither. But the Corn Refiners Association put a lot of effort and money into “debunking” myths surrounding HFCS. One of them being that it’s the leading cause for America’s obesity epidemic. I’m not blaming obesity on HFCS, but it is in most processed foods that America eats.  When HFCS is ingested, it travels straight to the liver which turns the sugary liquid into fat, and unlike other carbohydrates HFCS does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin; which acts as a hunger quenching signal to the brain.  It makes sense to me that eating food that gets immediately stored as fat and never feeling full might lead one to obesity.

Because HFCS extends the shelf life of foods, and farm subsidies make it cheaper than sugar, it’s added to a staggering range of items, including sodas, yogurt, cereals, crackers, ketchup and bread — and in most foods marketed to children. So, unless you’re making a concerted effort to avoid it, it’s pretty difficult to consume high-fructose corn syrup in moderation.  Try buying a loaf of bread at your local super market chain that does not contain HFCS. I nearly went blind reading all those tiny labels trying to find one. I gave up and purchase my HFCS free bread at Trader Joe’s.

A pilot study reported that some HFCS manufactured in the U.S. in 2005 contained trace amounts of mercury. The mercury appeared to come from sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid, two chemicals used in the manufacture of high-fructose corn syrup. The Washington Post wrote an article on January 28, 2009 that stated “Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies. The chemical was found most commonly in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments.”  Now I don’t think I need to point out that ingesting mercury, a neurotoxin, is bad for your health. For the complete Washington Post article, click on the link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/26/AR2009012601831.html

The good news is, I think the tide is turning. Public outcry and perhaps a few lawsuits thrown at food/drink manufacturers (Kraft was sued in 2007 for claiming Capri Sun was “all natural” even though it contained HFCS) has prompted some companies to switch from HFCS to sugar in their sodas/drinks.  Soft drinks groups, HFCS’s core consumers, are “preferring to switch to sugar given the poor health image of high-fructose corn syrup,”  Credit Suisse’s report stated on January 7, 2010 (http://www.agrimoney.com/news/corn-groups-hit-as-drinks-makers-return-to-sugar–1183.html). Snapple, Ocean Spray and Capri Sun had switched some months ago, with Gatorade in November saying it would replace corn syrup with sugar. That’s huge! Mainly because corn syrup was selling for about half the price of spot sugar.

My hope is that more people read ingredient labels so they are aware of the types of additives they are consuming.  Next time you pick up something at the grocery store, spend a minute reading the ingredient list and ignore the marketing on the front of the package. My family just says NO! to HFCS and perhaps more families out there will join us. And live long, healthy lives.

Everyday Autism Miracles Biomed Mom Question Feb. 12

Shannon Penrod, host of Everyday Autism Miracles on the internet has asked me, as her “biomed mom” her biomed question on today’s show. Unfortunately, she ran short on time, but I am answering the question here.

Shannon:  A caller that was just starting biomedical intervention has their first DAN! doctor appointment scheduled within a month.  She wanted to know what can she do for her child in the meantime before the appointment?

Joanne:  The first thing I’d do is “clean up my child’s diet”.  What that means is remove all artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, MSG, and  nitrates.  I’d also make sure all my fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy were organic. Next, I’d put my child on the gf/cf diet (gluten free/casein free).  Most DAN! doctors want you to do these dietary changes before your first appointment.  And if you’ve done both of these already, great!  Then I’d start my child on a children’s multi-vitamin that is formulated for kids on the spectrum.  There are several good brands available like Brainchild Nutritionals, Kirkman Labs, Klaire Labs., Lee Silsby to name a few. If your child doesn’t swallow capsules, there are liquid and powder formulations available.

Artificial food coloring is evil.

A magnet with this phrase hangs on my refrigerator; and it’s also stated on my cooking apron. As I pondered on how to approach this subject, I remember back to the days when I never read a food label or candy (no, it’s not food) label.  Ignorance sure was bliss…but was it? My kids would get impulsive, oppositional, hyper, spin around, lack focus, and make non-stop sounds before the “food label police” showed up at our house.  So I guess it wasn’t really bliss after all. I traded those behaviors for the inconvenience of having to read every single label on every single food item I bought or was given to my kids. But the trade-off was worth it!

My kids became calmer, quieter and not so emotionally charged. Melt downs decreased. Sleep habits improved. And above all, I knew that I was improving the health of my children, which is a good thing.

Yes, I do have to tell my kids NO to certain requests for food or candy their friends are eating, and at parties, or that dreaded artificial food colors and flavors/high fructose corn syrup holiday we celebrate, Halloween.  Or I pay the price of crazy behavior if I cave in and “let them eat colorful cake”. So I got resourceful or creative, however you view it. I taught my oldest son (he was eight-years-old at the time) to read food labels and explained what additives are bad for our bodies. He actually learned to read the label before he asked if we could buy something.  And I’d bite my lower lip whenever he picked up something I knew would have artificial ingredients in it and say “Shoot!” as he came across some artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. I let my kids trick-or-treat on Halloween. It’s one of their favorite holidays.  They get to choose one piece of candy to eat and then we trade the bag for a new toy (Legos at my house).  I buy candy treats that don’t have artificial ingredients. It definitely tastes better.

If you are not already familiar with the numbers you see on food labels, here are the most common: FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red No. 3, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Citrus Red No. 2.  And that lovely, ubiquitous Red No. 40 that can trigger such ugly behaviors in most kids. Red 40 is used in many food products including Kool-Aid, orange and other flavored sodas, Cheetos and Doritos chips (and the ever popular Flamin’ Hot Cheetos), strawberry Pop-Tarts, any candy with red coloring to it including M&M’s, Skittles, many chewing gums, etc. Also many children’s vitamins and pain relievers/cold medicine have red 40 in the ingredients. Why? Because if it’s colorful, our kids will want to eat it or take the medicine.

How many asthma sufferers are told by their allergists to avoid FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine)? There is a reason that food and medicine labels must declare that ingredient. This is an extended version of the ingredient declaration:  “This product contains FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) which may cause allergic-type reactions (including bronchial asthma) in certain susceptible persons.”

Here is the biggest reason I think artificial (synthetic) food coloring is evil. Petroleum. Yes, most synthetic food dyes are created from petroleum.  The same base used to manufacture gasoline and heating fuels.  And if that’s not enough to make you spit out that Skittle, FD&C Blue No. 2 is manufactured in a chemical process that includes formaldehyde, aniline, several hydrozides under ammonia pressure, and heating in the presences of sulfuric acid. Oh, don’t worry, each batch is tested to ensure it doesn’t exceed the FDA’s prescribed limits for impurities. Most impurities are in the forms of salts or acids, but others include lead, arsenic and mercury. Yikes!

I’m sure you are asking yourself  “Why are these food dyes so common in our processed food supply? Why does the FDA allow it?” Well, that’s a topic for another blog.   The U.S. FDA hasn’t studied the effects of synthetic dyes on behavior in children. Another country did though. A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at Southampton University in England. They found a link to food dyes and hyperactive behavior in children. The research does not prove that food colorings actually cause ADHD behaviors but there does seem to be a link. The results were published in The Lancet medical journal in September of 2007.  The results of the study was a story in Time magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1661703,00.html

Since this study, the U.K. banned artificial food dyes in 2008 and demand manufacturers use natural ones. U.S. companies use natural products in the U.K., while continuing to use artificial dyes in the products sold in the U.S.  Here’s something to chew on:

  • Aunt Jemima Blueberry Waffles contains no blueberries. The blue “bits” are Red 40 and Blue 2.
  • McDonald’s strawberry sauce, well it’s actually “McRed40” sauce. (The U.K. gets real strawberries)
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry Muffin has no real blueberries. Their “blueberry crunchies” are made with corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and the colorful combo of Blue 2 and Red 40.
  • Kraft’s Guacamole Dip doesn’t get its greenish color from actual avocados. It gets it from the dye combo of Yellow 5 & 6 and Blue 1.
  • U.K. M&M’s and Skittles have natural food dyes in them. The ones with the bright colors made with artificial dyes are sold in the U.S.  Ours are prettier and brighter because natural dyes don’t have that artificial bright pigment you can obtain with a petro base. Don’t you feel special? Thanks to our FDA!

There are alternatives to foods and candy without dyes. And a great source is the Feingold Association. They have a shopping list of foods without these dyes listed by category and manufacturer.  Their website is http://www.feingold.org/.

https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/artificial-food-coloring-is-evil-part-2/

Biomedical interventions 101

By Joanne Allor

I am not a professor, nor an educator. I am a mother of a child with autism, self-educated in the field of biomedical treatments for children with autism and ADHD.  You may find yourself, like I did,  in one of three autism camps out there. One, you just figured out or received your child’s autism diagnosis and don’t know where to begin or what to do to help him/her. Two, you’ve been dealing with autism for a while now and are certain there is something more you can do in addition to behavior intervention. Or three, you’ve heard of the biomedical treatment of autism and don’t get it. What is it?

Biomedical interventions for autism and ADHD heal the body, which in turn, heals the mind.  By addressing underlying health problems, you will see an improvement in your child’s behaviors and the behavioral therapies (like ABA) will take hold. Developmental growth will follow.

Most autistic behaviors are symptoms of the body’s distress, such as pain, frustration, fear and a biochemical disruption.  While treating symptoms can ease distress, we still need to get to the core issues causing it. For example, your child might be experiencing gut pain with bloating, diarrhea or constipation every time he eats wheat or dairy. This may cause aggression, disturbed sleep, repetitive behaviors, etc. Removing these possible allergens and following a gf/cf diet, may ease the distress and bloating, correct bowel function, and eliminate some of the behaviors.  But the core issue still needs to be addressed in order to completely heal the gut and eliminate all the behaviors associated with its dysfunction.  Is there an in-balance of the gut flora due to yeast or bacteria? Are there viruses or heavy metals disturbing the gut? Is it a leaky gut that doesn’t allow for proper absorption of nutrients?

Once I started down the path of “what can I do to help my child” outside of pharmaceuticals, I learned of the Feingold and gf/cf diets.  Then my research led me to The Autism Research Institute (www.autism.com) and their DAN! project. DAN! stands for Defeat Autism Now!  The ARI trains physicians with research they have gathered on the biomedical treatment of autism. Their guiding principle is simply stated: “remove what is causing harm, and add what is missing.”

So I began with cleaning up my sons’ diet by removing all artificial ingredients (including sweeteners), colors, flavors and preservatives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup/corn syrup, and nitrites/nitrates.  Suddenly, both my children became calmer, quieter and less impulsive.  Then I added in a children’s multi-vitamin with high doses of B6 and magnesium called Super Nu Thera, by Kirkman Labs.  My son with autism was 4 years old and still wasn’t potty trained. One week on Super Nu Thera, and he developed “the pee pee dance”.  He was potty trained within a few months with behavior therapy. This was unattainable until then. Believe me, I tried EVERYTHING to potty train him. I was onto something! I found a DAN! doctor on the ARI website and our son’s biomedical journey began.

To help you with your child’s biomedical journey out of autism, see the links below:

http://www.autism.com/treatable/index.htm

http://www.autism-society.org/site/DocServer/Pages_47-50EH.pdf?docID=10452

http://www.tacanow.org/medical/parents-role.htm

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