Gut Health and PANSOct 05, 2020
I recently sat down with Debbie DeSimone to discuss the importance of gut health in our PANS children. Debbie is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Epidemic Answers Health Coach, and is in the process of training to become a Neurofeedback practitioner. Here are some of the points we discussed:
Understanding Gut Health
Both our immune system and our nervous system are connected to our gut (intestines), therefore, finding ways to support the gut through good nutrition is a priority for our PANS kids.
In order to understand how gut health affects the immune system and the nervous system (meaning mood, behavior, etc), we need to talk about the gut microbiome. To better understand the gut microbiome think of micro=small and biome=a community of flora (small organisms such as bacteria, yeasts and others). Basically, the gut microbiome is a small community of microbes living in our intestines! This gut microbiome is a fascinating system that, when treated with care, can protect us and keep our body running smoothly; as long as it is in balance.
Many of our PANS kids have some form of dysbiosis. What is dysbiosis? Dysbiosis is an imbalance of the gut microbiome, meaning that there is either too much of the "bad" microorganisms or too little of the "good" microorganisms. If you want to learn more about this, here is some helpful information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_gastrointestinal_microbiota
So, what does this have to do with our PANS children?
Did you know that 90% of our serotonin and 50% of our dopamine is created in the gut? Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that help regulate mood, attention and behavior. Since our PANS kids struggle with mood, attention and behavior, we need to consider how we can support their gut health.
Eating the Right Foods
Food can be medicine! It's important to note that eating the "right foods" may mean something different for each PANS child. Consider working with a practitioner that can do testing and understand food sensitivities, allergies and histamine issues.
Below are some foods to consider either adding to or eliminating from your PANS child's diet. However, please be sure to check with your PANS child's doctor or practitioner to see if these recommendations are appropriate for your child. The dietary recommendations below focus on decreasing inflammation, balancing the microbiome and regulating neurotransmitter production.
- choose unprocessed, organic foods when possible
- keep sugar intake minimal
- eliminate canola oil and hydrogenated oils as much as possible
- incorporate olive oil, avocado oil and/or coconut oil when possible
- incorporate fruits (berries are the best way to get antioxidants)
- increase vegetables, especially leafy greens
- use grass-fed and pasture raised meats that are antibiotic and hormone free
- pasture raised eggs are an excellent food if tolerated
- raw cacao is delicious and healthy
- nuts, seeds and beans can be excellent forms of protein
The earlier you can begin these healthy habits, the better. As our children get older, it can become more difficult to change their eating habits. However, don't let that stop you from trying! Try mixing foods that your child refuses with foods that they do like--here are some examples:
- Make smoothies: a wonderful way to get in some leafy greens and protein
- Freezing fruits with small amounts of vegetables to make popsicles
- Using avocado to make guacamole or try avocado pudding:
If your child is giving you a lot of push back with their diet, don’t be discouraged. Keep it simple by taking small steps daily towards shifting your PANS child's diet to a healthier one.
To tune into more discussions such as this one, join my private Parenting with PANS Facebook group here!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] I'd love to hear from you!