Did you know I taught the binary system of numbers to my son when he was maybe 9 years old? Not only that – at the time he could go back and forth between the binary and decimal system for small numbers.
The twist is that my son has Down Syndrome, is Autistic, and non-speaking. But I wouldn’t classify him as a genius.
Over years I have worked on and refined a process that I call Non-Linear Education – that I have used to help my son overcome barriers – both imposed by society and sometimes by his multiple diagnoses.
In this podcast, I talk you through the 7 steps involved in teaching complex math (or science) to your child with Autism or Down Syndrome or other disabilities.
Welcome to the 100th episode of Functional Nutrition and Learning for Kids! I am your host Vaishnavi Sarathy – or just Vaish – and this is where we optimize learning for your Autistic child, this is where we break glass ceilings for your child with Down Syndrome. This is where we abandon the idea of intellectual delay and blaze new trails in learning and brain health through food, gut health, learning strategies, and through my very favorite tool – Non-Linear Education!
Today I am going to share a personal story that I have never shared in detail before – and this is the story of how I taught my son who has Down Syndrome, who is Autistic and non-speaking – Math – and not just Math – the binary system of numbers – and how to go back and forth between Binary and decimal – he was 8 or 9 at the time.
When I first shared parts of this story with friends and family, do you know what the first reaction was? Some of you may be feeling this right now!
It was disbelief. Some would say “No way”. I started posting about my journey on Facebook Groups at the time. I was part of a few really progressive (or so I thought) Facebook groups that were really invested in their kid’s growth.
I have since found that most Facebook groups are grounds for – how do I say this politely – wallowing in one’s opinions and struggles and hoping everyone shares them. There is actually huge value to this initially – to find your tribe, your group, your people that understand your pain. But do you know the biggest problem with finding this tribe, this group is?
It is this – if you don’t find the right tribe, most people just want their pain to be validated. But after pain, comes growth. With pain comes growth. And I was at the place where I thought people would want to know more about what I was doing, but interestingly, I was either ignored or dismissed.
And lest you think I am entering my own pity party, there are two lessons in this – lessons that are valuable to anyone seeking a journey that is off the beaten path – like teaching a child with Down Syndrome the binary system.
First, no one will validate you. No one will tell you it is possible. You just have to believe in it and keep trying new things. It is the new things part that is critical. If you do the same old rote learning system and hope to break new ground, it won’t happen.
Second, for your child, there will be no one as forward thinking as you! This is not a job to be outsourced. It has to be you.
Over years, I have gotten busier in my speaking lifestyle – creating courses, training parents, teaching kids, and tutoring, and I now have less and less time to do the ground breaking things that Sid and I did 7 years ago.
And I notice us slipping into rote learning. Because I am trying to keep his school happy, I am trying to cover curriculum, I am trying to make sure he gets his basic attendance. That we are moving at the pace that school wants us to – which is fast and shallow. And I notice that we are fast and shallow – nothing gets done. When we are slow and deep, when we sit with a topic and go where it takes us, worlds open up.
More about this in another podcast – I do want to talk about the difference in learning being fast and shallow vs slow and deep, but this is actually different depending on the age. Younger kids actually do better with a fast and shallow learning style.
I spent one week teaching Sid multiplication. Basically, all I did was say – in many different ways – that multiplication is repeated addition. I did this by saying exactly what I just said – drawing it out, showing apples, dots and potatoes in various arrays. That’s about it.
Then I thought that Sid might need to know some multiplication facts. By now, it was obvious to me that singing multiplication tables all the way to 20×20 the way I had done as a child was a terrible idea. I did consider going 6 once is 6, 6 twos are 12, and so on.. It is so tempting to ram facts into our kids that have been rammed into us. I still find it hard to resist.
But I did a few word problems for a few more weeks, and since he was homeschooled at this time – he might have been 7 or so, we were done with multiplication in a month. That’s it.
So I thought what next? I figured, why not follow the same pattern. Next month I told him, that repeated multiplication is exponents. And then we ran over some exponent forms. Again we did this for a few weeks. And I was bored.
So I thought what next – all our number systems – you see – whether binary or decimal are based on exponents – powers of two or 10.
This turned out to be a surprisingly easy concept to teach – and within the next month – we were converting simple numbers to their binary forms.
By this time, I was stunned – myself. How did this happen? What did I do? What did Sid do? What exactly is going on here?
I had no idea then, but in retrospect, I have isolated 7 main ideas that enabled my 8 or 9 year old son to start working on binary number systems.
Some people say that I must have a genius for a son. Others think I am deluded, or out to fraud the world. Of course, I have no answer for those people, but for those who think that my son is a genius – this is not the case, because when we dove into deeper equations like quadratic – when we did conventional math curriculum – we are doing it right now – 10th grade Algebra – he is not really that interested. He is doing OK, not phenomenal. It is hard for him, it is unmotivating for him.
And I know why – I am not following the 7 principles that I followed back in those days.
1. For a child – especially a child in special ed – who has been inundated with repetitive information for most of their lives – bring the information FAST and FIERY!
There is no need to go into 20 worksheets of how to do multiplication,followed by 20 word problems. Move quickly through ideas – not shallow, but just enough depth. Keep it interesting, that’s where the Fiery comes in.
2. Avoid death by worksheet. Here is a rule I want you to keep in mind for your Autistic child – the more worksheets you do on the same topic, the less likely it is they will stay focused (or learn).
3. Look around for the simplest way to teach a complex idea. For example – all I said is one sentence – Exponentiation is repeated multiplication. Don’t go on and on into details just yet. There is a time for that.
4. Don’t test, just teach. Don’t get sucked into repeated feverish testing. As long as it looks like your child is remotely engaged, and doesn’t hate what you are doing, for the beginning, teach more than you test. Beginning skills and understanding rely far more on INPUT than OUTPUT. You can ENGAGE your child in communication, like pointing, or choosing, but don’t make every engagement a TEST.
5. Don’t stay on a topic too long. Find a detour – go somewhere else – you can always come back. By too long, I mean more than a month!
6. If it is not fun for you, your child is not going to learn it! This is common-sense, but very few educators actually use it. We had a Geography teacher for Sid who used to say in class “I know everyone hates Geography – it is not fun”, and Sid actually loved Geography. So don’t do that. Don’t be that person.
7. Please believe in the core of your heart that despite what every doctor, teacher, or educator has told you – your child is truly capable. This is called Assuming Intelligence, and all the steps above will fail if this one is not in place.
So here you go – there are 7 steps to teaching your child the most complex concepts in the world! And you can go to www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/binary and get a worksheet to complement this podcast. Print it out – and make sure to USE It!!
I am so glad you joined my 100th podcast, and whether you choose to teach binary math or rocket science, or poetry, I wish you the best of journeys. As I bid goodbye to you today, if you have found value in this episode, I would love it if you left a review. Here’s a convenient link for you – www.ratethispodcast.com/vaish
There is often a correlation between how a child eats and how they learn. Dr. Bill Sears in this podcast talks about 4 points that he teaches kids and parents to focus on:
Go Nuts, and
I am so excited to interview someone whose work I followed so closely when my kids were younger. I am pretty sure I was on the “askdrsears.com” website all the time.
In this episode, Dr. Bill Sears talks about how he addresses growth issues in his practice and does a special segment just for us on how to further help children with Down syndrome who have growth issues.
There is often a correlation between how a child eats and how they learn. Dr. Bill Sears in this podcast talks about four points that he teaches kids and parents to focus on. Go Fish, go green, go nuts, and Go Blue. I was so excited to interview someone whose work I followed so closely when my kids were younger. I’m pretty sure I was on the Ask Dr. sears.com website all the time.
In this episode, Dr. Sears talks about how he addresses growth issues in his practice. And that’s a special segment just for us on how to further help children with Down Syndrome who have growth issues. William Sears MD has been advising parents on how to raise healthier families for over 50 years.
He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston, and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, which is the world’s largest Children’s Hospital, where he was associate war chief of the newborn intensive care unit. Before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital.
The father of eight children, he and his wife Martha have written over 45 books and hundreds of articles on parenting, child care, nutrition, and healthy aging. I’m guessing that most of you on this podcast have been to his website. He is the founder of the doctors. He is a wellness Institute for training health coaches, and he runs the health and parenting website.
As Dr. sears.com Dr. Sears and his contribution to Family Health were featured on the cover of Time magazine in May 2012. He has noted for his science meets simple and fun approach to Family Health, something that you’re gonna find a lot in today’s episode, you are listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids. And this is episode 99. With Dr. Bill Sears.
Bill big welcome to Dr. Sears. And like I said, I’ve been a fan of your website when my kids were younger. And it was really refreshing, you know, compared to the standard parenting advice of the time. I used to consult it all the time. So I’m really glad that you’re here. And that I get to talk to you about growth and failure to thrive. Thank you for being here.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, thank you, Dr. Vaish. I’m so honored to be with you. Thank you. We’d love you we love your podcast, and you do so much good for the nutritional health of so many families.
Thank you. I heard you say and I heard this statement. If your child fits or is lower than average on a growth chart, you said that it’s not a red flag, it’s a yellow flag. And can we start with that? Why is that a yellow flag and what is the Yellow Flag mean?
Dr. Bill Sears:
It’s a yellow flag because it’s easily corrected. It’s just a wave flag that says, hey, parents, maybe you should take a total look at how your child is eating. Is he eating enough or eating enough nutrition? So let’s the Yellow Flag. So you’re looking at the growth chart. And there are so many great growth charts on websites now, you can go to growth collector, you can go to growth chart collector, you can go to grow your child, so many growth charts are yours.
So go to the websites see a growth chart and see where your child fits. And then think Alright, Does my child need to eat more grow foods and you may be surprised that your child is not eating enough protein for one that’s the usual one Enough Healthy Fats because of the fat phobia we grew up with now that’s gone unfortunately we know what now we call it smart fats. smarten fat diet, not a low-fat diet. And so it’s sort of it’s actually a good flag that says hey parents, and teachers and families and all child feeders maybe need some more grow foods.
You’re calling them to grow foods I like that you know as a functional Nutrition Consultant poor growth is often a point of separation between conventional nutrition and model because a lot of times parents that go to a convention a nutritionist you’re simply adding more calories but here you know, that’s where I feel like there’s a difference when you’re looking a little deeper about is the food being absorbed or is you know what’s going on with the child. What are the first thing that you do Dr. Sears when a child comes to you and they present with for growth?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, the first thing I do is taken all neutral. Slow history. And I say Alright, now let’s look at your child’s growth chart. So I go on my old website there, and I show him a child growth chart calculator. And then I say, now let’s Google growth child protein, to see if your child eats enough protein, like a gram a day, a gram a pound. And so your child weighs, you know, 3030 pounds, does your child eat 30 grams of protein? So we start with that, and almost all the time, almost all the time bearish, I can say, Alright, here’s the problem.
Your child needs more growing foods. And the parents love the term grow foods is positive. Now for older children, for older children, as a motivator, we’ll say well, what’s your child’s special something? What are they really into? What are they love? And they may say, Well, my own daughter loves soccer. She’s such a good soccer player. She loves soccer, I say, Okay, call them soccer foods, like money, you need to eat more soccer foods. And, and they get it. They love that.
I like that a lot. Do you find that so one of the questions one of the things I was thinking about do you find that when you see children with poor growth, you also see correlations with other symptoms and anything from eczema to ADHD? Is there often a correlation? Or not necessarily?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Good. Another? Yes, yes, I think you nailed it. Again, there often is a correlation between how children eat, and how they learn. And the reason is, and oftentimes, say you’re in my office. And I find when I start talking about the brain, parents will pay more attention. So as you just said, sometimes the child has a learning problem. I don’t call it a disability, or disorder, there’s a difference. Not many children learn differently. But say your child has been labeled with some say, ADHD or not paying attention, or just not learning well.
I take the parents into the brain and say, Alright, point number one, your brain is the main organ in your body that is most influenced. For better or worse, by nutrition. You put smart food into the brain, you get back smart learning. Secondly, I go through, what your child eats. And I say, No, you’re feeding a little fat head. And they look at me and say, what’s that? What’s the fat head? I said, your child’s brain is mostly fat. So let’s look at the fat in the diet. And almost all the time.
I see that there are not enough omega-three fats in the most important smart fat. So I go through them on why they should eat more seafood. And I show them that I have a salmon on my wall. They’re a little piece of not a piece of salmon but a little picture of salmon. And is wearing a white coat says Dr omega the third. So I show a picture. I want you to meet Dr. Omega third, and I go through the 10 nutrients that are in a piece of wild salmon. Oh my goodness, the nutrients are incredible.
You have you have protein. You have omega-three DHA EPA smart fats. Protein Aster Xanthine what makes salmon pink? A B 12. V. O and vitamin D, are great sources of vitamin D. Choline, all these good things? And they’ll look at me oh my gosh, Dr. Bill, I never realized there was so much I’m gonna get him to eat salmon. And I said not also the brain.
The brain has the greatest garden ever grown. So what do you need to grow a garden? You need to feed and fertilize the plants. You need to water them. You need to kick the weeds out. toxic thoughts. And so I said let’s go into fruits and vegetables because fat, the fat head and the brain. Fat turns rancid it oxidizes. That’s the term Okay, so let’s eat more anti-oxygen’s fruits and vegetables. And I start with blueberries and the kids love it the blueberry is the brain Berry. And they run it.
Remember that and I give them little things to remember like, Go Fish, go blue, go green, and go nuts. Now, parents, give your children a little baggie, with an assortment of nuts, have them go through the kids like to pick out their own things when they shop, have them get four or five different varieties of nuts, make your own trail mix, put it in their pocket, and they can nibble on the nuts throughout the day. So simple things like that. Oftentimes, just increasing maybe 100 or 200, healthy calories, Jay is just enough to pick up the brain and pick up their growth chart.
That you’ve simplified that so much. So you said just I’m going to repeat what you said. Because that’s amazing. You said just in I don’t have to start increasing by just adapting or increasing 100 or so healthy calories a day is enough to pick up the growth charts.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Oftentimes, that’s enough. And it has made me know another thing I asked them if they’re having like you mentioned problems learning at school. I say what does your child have for breakfast? Oh, he doesn’t eat much for breakfast. He doesn’t like breakfast or gives them a little tart or a little piece of junk cereal. So they said well, your child must have a brainy breakfast. Write that down. Brainy breakfast mom. Right brainy breakfast because the brain has been resting all night. It needs refueling. And so I have a make a smoothie because children love smoothies. So the smoothie is all and I give my recipe a smoothie. And first of all, healthy fats in the smoothie.
Cheat a tablespoon of MCT oil, very healthy fat. Avocados. Wonderful healthy fat. Whole milk. Grass-fed organic plain yogurt or kefir. Ah, the kids love it. Kiwis, berries. I haven’t put out a nice etching get wonderful protein powders. For you know from healthy heights. I have to grow daily. I have, I have one over on my in my kitchen, or grow daily.
They have a really good one for children, three, three years and up and 10 years and up. And it’s high in protein. So a scoop of protein powder in it. And then you have as a young child, you have them help you make the smoothie, you know, take a handful of blueberries and put it in a handful of kale is the old Dr. Bill my chart.
My child doesn’t like kale, you know, we call them the sneaky Fs they’ll never know what’s in there if you put it in there. So you know, oh, ginger, if they like flavor, pineapples, a nice sweetener, papaya is usually a fruit child, you know, absolutely love or use pomegranates when they’re in season. And so that’s a type of, and sometimes children get constipated a lot. So I throw fig, you know, a couple of figs in there. Wonderful. And, and then I remember our own children.
We had so many kids to feed and I’d make a big smoothie. And off we go into the family van. And they’re drinking their smoothies on the way to school. And so smoothies. I can’t emphasize them enough vase that you can just sneak things in that children will eat and they get a taste for it. It’s very the gut feel a wonderful gut feel. And one of the things I like about smoothies. It’s a Japanese term that I love called umami. And like umami what a little baby would say when they’re nursing for mommy, umami.
What is the Japanese term meaning the mouthfeel? The mouthfeel and smoothies have that you know sit on a smoothie and they have the protein And the fat and the healthy fiber-filled carbs, lots of fiber, and it stays in their mouth longer. And then. So that’s sort of what I love to do make a smoothie in the morning, especially for kids who need a brainy breakfast.
Lots of really, really good tips there. Yeah, thank you. And I’m going to summarize what Dr. Bill said and tell you if I missed a few things. So you said Go Fish Go Blue. Then I missed two other things. I know you talked about protein. But what was the other thing I missed? Go Green and go nuts.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Right, right there you have two of those that have lots of protein in them. And nut butter for your children. They don’t like it too young for nuts and all or take a big tablespoon of almond butter. Put the smoothie on. Yum.
So let’s take a short detour to talk about, you know, maybe our favorite populations as well. So I just got to know that you also have a son with Down syndrome. And I was going to ask you this question anyway. So we know that growth issues can occur more frequently in kids with Down syndrome. Is there anything different that you do? Or do you still start with the same basics that you talked about when you’re working with a child with Down syndrome?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, yes, it’s the same basics that we mentioned. But a step above. And a Steven number seven, we have so many children, we have to number them a little bit. Number seven, number seven, he came into our world, differently abled, not disabled, but differently abled. He had a different set of chromosomes. And we realize and at that time, the whole field of gen of epi genetics was coming on board that we can’t change his genes are his chromosome, but we can change the way the genes behave, by the way, he eats. So that was the first thing. My wife breastfed him for three years and is very, very, very difficult. Children with Down syndrome, they’re very lazy suckers.
They are kudos to your wife because I couldn’t do it for more than six months. It was that’s a hard thing to do.
Dr. Bill Sears:
That’s the golden time of six months. That’s when the brain is growing so fast. So I congratulate you on that. Because they those those those little suckers their hearts are so good for you. So that’s the first thing breastfeed next, you only start growing foods. You don’t start on junk food. His very first food was avocado, avocado. No, no, this rice cereal and all this much protein and fat and rice cereal. So we start them off on avocados. And his second food was wild salmon. Must be wild. I would mess a little bit up just a little bit up a little fingertip.
Put it on Stephens’s tongue a little bit more, a little bit more, and a little bit more. And by two years of age, he had a little piece of salmon almost every day. By two years of age. He craved salmon. Wow. We also started among smoothies that we talked about when he was around two years of age. He would help me make me grab a handful of blueberries and throw them in and all that called The children love messy stuff and so he didn’t mess and now when he’ll wake up in about an hour or so they’ll come down and the first thing he does he holds his hand up.
Does my smoothie. And so he is now programmed, programmed for healthy food. And I think why he’s he craves it, instead of just like it is here’s my theory on that vase you start early on with healthy foods grow foods, and the tongue likes and the tongue sends the tongues very enriched with nerve fibers. So you put this healthy food on the tongue goes like and it sends text messages to the craving center of the brain. And the brain says like feed me more Don’t feed me more the brain sends text messages all the way down the vagus nerve, the biggest nerve in the body down to the gut, the gut has called the second brain. And the gut says, Hmm, like.
You have that, that network, that greatest social network, neurological network going between tongue and brain and gut three times, four times a day, for the first two years, and by two years of age, that network is imprinted. That’s why I think it’s so important. Also, one other thing too, with, for children with Down syndrome, movement, movement, movement, movement, as as a fact my doctor mom said it all out, go outside and play. And I tell the kids to sit and stew is bad for you. Since two is bad for you, movement mobilizes the immune system. So we got Stephen and as many sports as we could. And I still remember that seeing kids was Down syndrome is very empathetic.
They’re very caring, and they hug other children. I remember Stephen is in, a race one time with other kids, right, other children with special needs, and they’re running and running and running and running fast. And he likes to win. So he’s running real fast, and the child next to him falls down, even stops in the middle of the race, picks up the other child helps him to get up and they complete the race. You know, that’s not a typical child.
Know, it’s not gonna happen. And so many lessons, I mean, it’s just a, it’s just such an enriching eye-opening experience. Having a child with Down syndrome, it’s just a really, it’s just so another Oh, another thing too, one other little chapter for parents.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Down syndrome, sometimes, some children with special needs, don’t have good appetite control, they will overeat. And one of the things we found, if I had if a parent were to ask me of say, a parent with a child has Down Syndrome and asked me, Dr. Bill, give me one, give me once one sentence, just one till I can do the rest of his life, her life. Keep your child lean. Learn how to keep your child lean, that has the right amount of length does not being skinny, I mean means having the right amount of body fat and body muscle for your child’s body type. And that is what we just mentioned, feed them grow foods. See our group’s growing food is nutrient dense.
Run them move them a lot, movement. Swimming, I’m going to have to put swimming at the top of the list. Because oftentimes children with special needs will have some motor problems. You know, they’re sometimes not coordinated. It is a swimming pool. There’s no right way to do it. They can swim the way they want. And they love it. So Steven Stevens still swims every day. And so, weather permitting, parents keep their children’s lane, get them moving, especially nowadays movement mobilizes your immune system. Movement mobilizes the immune system. So it’s another reason to move more and sit less.
To summarize what you said about your recommendations for children with Down syndrome your basics remain the same. So when we talked about growing foods and eating blue foods and fish, I said to go nuts, green, and all of the nutrient-dense foods, they remain the same but you’re making a bigger point about starting when the child is younger.
I think that automatically means avoiding refined carbs and refined sugar because that’s usually like first foods there’s you know, there’s rice and in sometimes in Indian culture, there’s sugar and so on. So there’s so your kind of setting the patterns up early as opposed because it’s once the sugar pattern gets going that’s really hard to override.
Dr. Bill Sears:
It is and you mentioned them You’ve just mentioned the bad word because this is parents we have a problem. The incidence of type two diabetes, the most preventable illness on the planet, the incidence of type two diabetes had has tripled in young children in the last three years tripled just the last three years.
Last three years
Dr. Bill Sears:
The last three years are true. Wow. No, so So and that so and that’s due to two bad words sugar spikes, sugar spikes.
So COVID situation cost a little bit more.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Yes, I think they were sitting there first two things sit inside and stew they would sit inside worrying worried depresses the immune system and makes you overeat. Secondly, they would eat junk food. So type two diet and type two diabetes and obesity have tripled. Alas, last two years, so this is why I want parents to look at labels.
Look at labels. Alright. Very little sugar at it. Maybe a little bit. So okay. But avoid sugar slurps Secondly, kids will love this little analogy. I play the game with them. And I say now you have good sugars and bad sugars. A good sugar plays with friends, protein, fat, and fiber. A bad sugar doesn’t have any friends. So bad sugar you put in your mouth. And it goes into your bloodstream real fast and hypes up your brain. And you use it too fast. And then you slump later on and you can’t learn at school.
You have a sugar slump later in the morning. But a good sugar. A happy sugar. A smart sugar has three friends fat, protein and fiber. And those three friends hold hands with the sugar when you’re eating it, so it doesn’t get into your bloodstream too fast. It slowly gives you energy which is what you want. And you know what? Do the kids get it? They’ll come home sometimes WLC they’ll remind Mommy, I want the happy sugar. Is this smart sugar? Does this sugar eating? Does that have to have three friends along with it? That’s why things like you like a smoothie, for example, our vegetables, and avocados, those have fiber, protein, and healthy fats with them that keep the sugar from spiking.
Right is definitely an in a state where pretty much every meal is blood sugar spiking for kids. And it’s really hard to pay attention in the morning if your blood sugar is going up and down. The child is going to school with a breakfast like that. I have to round things out. So we’ve got some really good advice on working with to grow foods and learning foods and sugar which kind of ties into both of them, for neurotypical kids for kids with Down syndrome. Or finally, I wanted to ask you to do these so do growth issues.
If parents don’t do anything to growth issues? Will children eventually catch up? How does that work? So what is when you went? Because there’s sometimes when you talk to parents, a lot of the advice that pediatricians conventional pediatricians will give parents is that your child will catch up. And how true is this?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Yes, that’s true. That is true. They will catch up. But it doesn’t mean you just sit and do nothing. You know, they have an I have a bunch of here’s a fact here’s my little here’s my role is smoothie making book called Dr. Poo. Okay. I give that to the kids when they come to the office and they read it because it has in there a summary of a lot of what we’re talking about on how to make a smoothie.
Why fiber is so good for you? Whey protein is so good for you? You know, proteins, the top grow food and it’s So yes, they will catch up. But see you want them not only to catch up on the chart, but you want them to catch up with habits, habits that last a lifetime. And this is why I stress parents early on, early on.
You know, parenting in a nutshell is giving your children the tools to succeed in life. What better tool is the craving for growing foods? Wow, what a tool. Can you imagine? What do you feed your children right now and for the first five years, 10 years? And they’re still eating that same food. 5070 years later. Thank you, mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, teacher.
Yes. I love that. Thank you. Thank you for making this. You know, explanation. So simple, and especially what you said in the end. It’s a very nice mentorship that it’s, it’s not just catching up on the group chat. It’s catching up on good habits. It’s catching up on learning. It’s catching up on just living a more wholesome life. Right. So yeah, I really like that. Thanks for sharing so much with our audience. Dr. So much. You’re so generous, I love talking to you. And I know that people can reach you at askdrsears.com. Are there any other resources you want to direct the audience towards?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, yes, askdrsears.com. And then we have the Dr. Poole book I showed. And another book I think they would really love like was called that the healthiest kid in the neighborhood. In the neighborhood. For adults, like adults with Down syndrome modeled as adults, we have the healthy brain book, The Healthy Brain book and we donate all the proceeds from the healthy brain book to charities. And then if you want a little book to reach for your kids, we have eaten healthily, and feel great.
A little picture book. So you can go on our website you can go on Amazon and all and, and children read to your children show them pictures. Children love to see pictures like grow foods, football foods, and soccer foods, and pretty hair foods that they love to they love to make the connection between what they eat, how they think and how they look, and how they feel.
Thank you again for your time.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Thank you. I love to be in with you.
This is such a fun way to present such important information and I’m never going to forget to sit and stewing is bad for you for the rest of my life. In the meantime, if you know where to find Dr. Sears www.askdrsears.com. This is also in the show notes and you know where to go for a gut health cheat sheet. If you’re worried about gut health, your child’s gut health is related to their growth www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth. See you next week on the 100th episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids. Bye.
Did you know that ancestral trauma has been found to have epigenetic implications that can impact physiology all the way down to digestion and metabolism?
Lee Ann Foster guides us through the concept of epigenetics, of the various tools she uses including neurofeedback, and how healing is always multimodal.
My friend, welcome to functional nutrition learning for kids, you are listening to your host Dr Vaish Sarathy. This is where we get together every week, sometimes every two weeks like today to talk about key areas of nutrition, functional medicine, holistic health for your child with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, or learning disabilities. But we never lose sight of the neurodiversity paradigm of the idea that your child’s intellect is fully capable right now, but that we just might have to find the right mode of expression.
The role of functional nutrition is to help your child feel comfort in their body. And the role of presuming competence is to move forward to achieve an equal or higher education. And often I think that one is impossible without the other. Now I’m going to ask you a question. Are you struggling with a focus for your child? If you are, go request a free 20-minute consult with me at functionalnutritionforkids.com. That’s all together www.functionalnutritionforkids.com. and navigate to the contact me section.
There’s a tab on the upper right. And do you know that there are people who’ve gotten enough from a free consult with me with answers to questions that they’ve struggled with for years, so just go request a free consult Now, if that makes sense? Let’s move onward to the farsighted and compassionate Lee ann Foster.
I am super excited to introduce Leanne foster today. Leanne is a master’s level psychologist and an epigenetics wellness coach. Welcome, Leanne. I’m so excited. You’re here. This is my first time talking with somebody that has your experience.
Lee Ann Foster:
You’re having me. Yeah, getting to know you a little bit. And looking forward to this conversation.
Can you talk to us a little bit about what it means to be an epigenetics wellness coach? Yes.
Lee Ann Foster:
So what I do is I get people’s Raja genetic data, we can use 23andme version four, but I am certified through a company called appear on which means limitless. And what we do is we have our own genetic sequencer. So you know, with 23andme, we’re running into some issues with them selling data. And they also change what kind of genetic information they report. And so we didn’t want to rely on that. So we get your genetic data and we destroy the data after I have given you your own raw data because it’s your and then created at reports. And so what we do, we look at things through an optimization lens, and not a sickness lens, not a medical system lens. Okay, so when I get someone’s reports, first of all, I’m coaching them.
I want to know what their goals are. And so we have so much information on these reports. So I want to go, you know, whittle down to what’s most important to an individual. And then we just began to work through the data according to what’s important to them. And we look for what are ways that we can optimize your lifestyle. And in doing that, I’m also interested in a person’s personality and preferences, right? Because if we figure out ways to optimize your lifestyle, and you hate the things that we’ve come up with, it’s not sustainable, and you’re not going to stick to it.
I work really hard to figure out how can we do this in ways that you’re gonna love it and stick with it? Right. So, you know, the overall arching issue is, that we know that genetic determinism is not an accurate scientific reality, we’re not determined by our genes, right? Rather, the lifestyle that we live in determines what genes express
however when, when we’re looking at the snips and so on, are they not some form of genetic determinism?
Lee Ann Foster:
So the snips are there for sure. But it is your lifestyle that will determine whether those snips Express or not whether they’ll get read like a code and a computer or not on
that’s what you’re doing. You’re trying to optimize the expression, of these genes one way or the other.
Lee Ann Foster:
Exactly. Now, there are some, obviously, that are determined, like Down syndrome is determined, Huntington’s is determined, but it’s a very, very small percentage of genes that actually are determinative. Most of them are just a chance, right, a percentage of whether or not they’ll Express which can be greatly impacted by lifestyle.
And even within the deterministic nature of Down syndrome.
What we have seen is that there are so many more genes that can be expressed or not, which is why it’s obvious that there’s as much of a spectrum with the extra chromosome as there is without an extra chromosome. Absolutely, yes. So yeah, that that’s why we have this wonderful conversation when we spoke last time about all interventions, especially when we’re trying to deal with inflammation or neurodegeneration or any neurological issue being multimodal. And it was super exciting because we were on the same page right away about that. And we’re so we’re in this world where we’re interventions do this, and we’ll fix your child kind of thing. Right? I mean, I have multiple issues with that I have issues with the term fix.
I have issues with the term do this. And I’m pretty sure nutrition is one of the things are one of the approaches that you use. But can you speak about your experience with using a multimodal approach?
Lee Ann Foster:
Yeah, absolutely. So my husband and I run an integrative neuropsychology practice. And so we see a lot of people with different neurological challenges. And so, we want to set everyone up for success.
We want to help them optimize their life no matter where they are, right? So some people come and they’re really having a lot of struggles, and other people come and they just want optimization. No matter what we do, we want to set them up for success. And so we look, we tell them, we’re going to hit it every from every angle, right? So we’re going to look at nutrition, we’re gonna look at supplementation, we’re gonna look at body movement, we’re going to look at sleep hygiene.
I tell people all the time’s sleep is the mama of the body. And if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. So that is that number one, then, you know, what are our stress management practices? What are our body movement practices? What are our mindset practices? What kind of stories do we tell ourselves about the world and ourselves and other people, so we look at everything, and then we in our practice, really specialize and kind of go in the back door, and address the physiological dysregulation in the brain in the nervous system with very non-invasive, but very targeted specific technology. So we map the brain, and we assess the autonomic nervous system. And then we train those with neurofeedback and heart rate variability training.
And can you there are multiple things I want to talk about, I want to talk about neurofeedback and heart rate variability training, but I also let’s see if we can stay in this in this mode for a little bit longer.
What has been your approach when when you use one modality and then let’s say the inputs coming in from the environment, be that diet or otherwise are not addressed?
Lee Ann Foster:
Oh, that’s such a great question. And we’ve really come to the point where we interview our clients on the front end to determine who’s a good fit. And we’re very honest with people on the front end, because if people aren’t willing to address their nutrition, and their lifestyle will get a level of improvement, but nothing, nothing like the level of improvement that we can get if people are willing to address the lifestyle. And we really want to see people get an optimal experience. And so it’s kind of hard to work with somebody who refuses to make those other changes because they’re limiting themselves.
You’re adding this source of constant external stress to the body and the mind. And that is probably gonna eventually undo any benefits that come in. And I think that’s the same from my perspective because I’m working on the other end, I’m working from the functional nutrition perspective. But if that is all that we do, and we’re not addressing the learning aspect, the education and the movement, which is which of the two things that I talk usually about, is that there’s no point in building an empty foundation where there’s like, You okay, you’ve built the foundation.
Now, what are you going to build on top of that? Right? Yeah, yeah. So and you work with adults, with trauma? And did you actually do is this the term wellness trauma is that’s the term I have in my mind. Did you say that? Or did I make up the term?
Lee Ann Foster:
Did you make that term up? But it’s a great term, because one of the things that that we talked about a little bit that I’d like to expound upon is, I see a lot of adults and, and children, honestly, who have what we would consider trauma, but it’s not popularly talked about as trauma. And so I often ask people, do you know anything about what your mother’s experience was like when you were in the womb? Because if your mother was stressed out and she was having trauma, then you started off being born in the womb in the stress hormone, and that has certainly impacted you, you know, if she had a difficult birth, that is a trauma, if you’ve had illness as a child and had to have medical interventions, that is considered trauma because you know, when especially when you’re young and pre-verbal, that gets processed in the body, not through verbal processes, because they’re not there yet. And so it very much impacts your entire system. So I like your term wellness, trauma.
There’s another connotation to wellness trauma too, but we’ll get into later trauma due to endless cycles of you know because we talked about how they can be very different kinds of veterans practitioners, and where you can have a very appeal for an ill approach or can be just trauma from going back and forth between that. But coming back to what you said, I mean, there’s a lot of people walking this earth today, unfortunately, that are carrying different levels of trauma that, whether that be physical that whether that be through the birth canal, or not through the birth canal, as a C section, or whether that be due to childhood adverse childhood experiences. And it’s so overwhelming.
It’s that, you know, I almost hesitate. So when you say that to people when people get that information, what do they do with it? What do we what do you ask them to do with it? Because it’s, it’s a little scary for me, I would like almost not even go there.
Lee Ann Foster:
Yeah, well, by the time people have come to us, and they’re interested in coming to us, they’re already in a position where they’re reaching out for help. So frankly, when we talk about that people feel relief. Just like when people get their brain mapped, and we talk in very detailed terms about what we see in the brain, people feel immense relief because oftentimes, people are walking around thinking, this is a character fault in me, like, I just can’t get it together enough.
I can’t put these practices together, you know, enough in my life to get better, right? And so when we talk about how much all these things impact their well-being, there’s a sense of relief, like, oh, it, it’s not, there’s nothing wrong with me. It’s this is just how life is. And I’ve, I’ve adapted, you know, we talked to people to say, there’s nothing wrong with the coping skills you’ve created. They’re actually brilliant. You know, coping skills are brilliant, considering the time you created them, they just kind of get a little outdated as we grow up, and they need an upgrade, right?
Yeah, and I like that I like the term upgrade. If you want to bring if bring this discussion, full, full circle in just integrating everything that we talked about, we have the trauma piece, we have the let’s say, let’s say childhood trauma, or otherwise. And then and then we have the interventions. And then we also have the epigenetic, well, not the epigenetics, but the genetic mapping that you’re doing through the testing. So where do these different pieces fit together? So would that be what the genetics be the part that they’re coming with? And then the trauma is additional? What would we call them modulators or triggers that are added to those genes and influence epigenetics? And then what can they do about them? Can we have like a full-circle discussion on that?
Lee Ann Foster:
Yeah, absolutely. So we know, through a lot of research, and especially looking at Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren, there’s been a lot of research on how trauma is epigenetically transferred through the generations. So all that what, what all those big words mean, is that if my, let’s say my great grandparents survived something like the Holocaust, which mine did, then I have a tendency to be more or less resilient to stress.
Okay. And so you and I talked a little bit to how this interfaces with nutrition. So there are these genes called gad genes, glutamic acid, enzyme genes, okay? And whether or not I have polymorphisms, that can make it difficult for me to digest foods that have glutamic acid, so that’s grains, dairy, soy, and foods high and free glutamate.
If I have certain genes, when I, when I ingest that food, I could end up with anxiety, pain, insomnia, brain fog, and things like that. Well, let’s say that I am a person who does not have those genetic polymorphisms that makes it difficult for me with those foods. But I had, my great grandparents survived the Holocaust, and now I have epigenetically transferred trauma, that trauma will turn those genes on those polymorphisms even if I don’t have those certain snips, so I will react as if I had those snips right. So I will have a difficult time with that food. And I will experience things like anxiety, insomnia, pain, and brain fog when I eat those foods.
So we’re living in this perfect vicious storm, not only of past trauma that’s been passed on but increasingly more trauma that is being passed on because of the nature of The world we live in.
I’m actually putting these things together in my head as I speak to you because it’s very unique perspective that I hadn’t heard before about previous, you know, ancestor trauma if you will. And we’re also living in a world where our food is like humongous modified and we’re eating, I don’t know what we’re eating, right? We’re not that’s not food at any rate. And maybe we have genes, and maybe we have polymorphisms, maybe we don’t, but then, and then we’re just like, churning this toxic pottage of ingredients over and over again. And then. And that’s, that’s the soup that we’re in right now. Right? So what do you do with this?
Lee Ann Foster:
So again, it’s a multi-modal approach, right? So we would begin to dig in and say, Okay, we need to limit the foods that are high and free of glutamate.
We talked earlier about this beautiful website, unblind, my mind, this mother, HD biochemist, and she helped her daughter who’s on the autism spectrum, incredibly, by limiting those foods, and she’s got great resources on that website that help people do that. But then we would also look at supplemental interventions like magnesium glycinate, vitamin B, six, and zinc. So we would make sure and you know, optimize vitamin D, always. But we would also look at the behavioral things like blue light toxicity, and how do I mitigate that, you know, so I am downloading flux on my computer screen so that I’m protecting myself from the blue light there, but I’m also having blue light blocking glasses on so that I’m double, you know, protecting myself from the blue light. We look at things like get out in the sunshine every day without sunscreen and sunglasses. You know, so I’ve been doing
that since my conversation with you, by the way. Awesome. That’s great. It’s things that you know, even those of us that know what to do, we’re not necessarily doing that, because we’re really caught up in this world where there isn’t much room for some for things like that unless you actually intentionally think about it. Exactly. So and then after these approaches, you layer on something you layer on a direct intervention like neurofeedback, and you see a pretty good I know this conversation isn’t technically about neurofeedback, but this is something that a lot of clients have asked me and I haven’t had any direct experience yet. But when somebody is coming in with something very severe, like, like trauma or anxiety, is this something that you see a great benefit to Neurofeedback from?
Lee Ann Foster:
Absolutely. Now, we’ve been doing this for 30 years, my husband was one of the first and the highest levels of certification, and we’ve published research, the VA sends veterans to us, and they pay for it. And so we get the veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic head injury, and we’ve had incredible success, most of them get off their medication. And they feel better than they ever had. So not all neurofeedback is equal, we use something that’s called Lauretta Z score neurofeedback, so we’re doing a 3d, very, very, very detailed map of the brain. And then we’re training to optimize all these networks of the brain.
One of the things that we see with children on the spectrum is that their anxiety networks are so far like sometimes five and six standard deviations above the norm. And so what this means is all the electricity in the brain is trapped, going down these anxiety networks. So one of the first things that we do in training is helping to kind of disrupt those stuck networks, and then the electricity is free to go and distribute through the brain. And so it looks like IQ increases when we test for IQ. We don’t believe IQ is really increasing. We believe that that stuck nature of what’s been happening in the brain is finally freed up so that they’re able to access and express who they really are.
That makes a lot of sense. And I think just for that one thing alone for the anxiety trap, if you will, which is so common. Are you also seeing that as is just becoming more and more increasingly common?
Lee Ann Foster:
Yep. Yeah. Yeah. So many toxins in our environment,
and it’s the same soup that we discussed, and it’s just manifesting as anxiety, perhaps an incredible amount of information.
Dan, thank you so much. But before we wrap up, one thing is if you had to give some advice to a new parent, let’s say we’re talking about a parent with a child with a what-if their child has autism, but if they’re specifically looking to make them more comfortable in their body reduce neuroinflammation or GI inflammation, what would be top two or three things that you think anybody can do by themselves?
Lee Ann Foster:
So I would really look to people like you People who are parents who have these special children, you know, this brilliant child who, who we just have to learn how to help them come out and express who they are people like you who understand the importance, the vital importance of nutrition. And who also understand, like we talked about this multimodal, you know, one of the first things I asked you is, had you heard of a nominee all and the neuro movement? Yes, that is so important, and it’s something that people can actually grasp and learn to do on their own. And the parents will benefit tremendously. I mean, have you not by learning some of that modality?
Absolutely. Yes. And one of the things one of the first things that Anat Baniel’s movement practitioner told me when I interviewed her for the podcast was that movement is the language of the brain. And that phrase has just an I think that might be like the slogan of the ABM modality but it’s stuck in my brain and it’s like the mantra of multimodality because, like I said, you can nutrition, everything, you know, you can just, you can just fill your child with nutritionally dense foods. But if we’re not speaking the language of the brain, then what are we doing? Right?
Lee Ann Foster:
Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, third, I would say, get into a community of like-minded mothers, because that is so vital to have that support of like-mindedness because I know so many families that come to us they are fighting against their families who think they need to do things in conventional ways.
You know, drugged them, and they just you need that supportive, like-minded mothers to hold you up and keep you on track when other people aren’t necessarily seeing things the way you’re seeing them.
Wonderful. Thank you so much. Great advice, Leanne. Where can people reach you? Can you tell us a little bit about where you’re located because I mentioned that and how people can
Lee Ann Foster:
Yeah, so physically, we’re located in Memphis, Tennessee. Our website is neurosource.net we can also be found on Facebook
and your services are accessible online as well.
Lee Ann Foster:
So we do have my epigenetic services are available to distance. We do have the capacity now to do home neurofeedback. And I will say, though, that that is not for complex cases. I wouldn’t want children doing home Neurofeedback God that is taxing on the parents. It’s just not. It’s not as fun.
Yeah, no, I can totally imagine.
Lee Ann Foster:
Yeah, it would be hard, but if people contacted me, I could help them locate good Neurofeedback providers in their area. Okay,
I’m contacting you after this. It was so wonderful to have you on this podcast. lianza You’re like a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much for being here.
Lee Ann Foster:
Thank you so much for having me. You’re a breath of fresh air to felt a connection talking to you and I’m so glad you’re out there doing the work that you’re doing.
Thank you for listening. Today. I’m your host, Vaish and the music today was by Maitri Gosh. Don’t forget to book a free session at functionalnutritionforkids.com by navigating to the Contact Me tab on the upper right. Otherwise, I will see you next week. Bye.
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