Welcome to Functional Nutrition and Learning for Kids, the podcast that helps parents and practitioners support their children’s growth and development through gut health, functional nutrition principles, and effective learning strategies.
In this episode, host Dr. Vaish Sarathy speaks with Animesh Kumar, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Ocean Friends, a company that uses cutting-edge AI to help families manage nutrition and behavior for children with Autism.
Animesh shares his personal story of struggle in finding the right care for his son with Autism, and how this led him to develop an innovative solution to help families track their child’s food intake without the burden of traditional food logs and diaries. This is an episode you won’t want to miss!
TWO biggest myths in nutritional interventions (and the reason most dietary changes don’t work).
Did you know that 10-30% of children with ADHD don’t respond to medication, or worse, experience adverse effects to these medications?
It is high time to try easier and more effective strategies such as dietary changes for brain health.
If Food is Medicine, there should be nothing that can go wrong when you enter the area of Nutritional Interventions, right?
No, there are two huge areas where people slip up over and over again, and this is the reason “healing” diets don’t work for many many people.
MYTH 1: Everything is OK in moderation.
If you are trying to make an active change, it is important that the areas that are healing are significantly higher than the areas that are inflammatory. In fact, at least for a short time, you may need to shut off the inflammatory foods.
This is of course hard, because inflammatory food is usually addictive. But taking every food that causes inflammation out of the diet is almost impossible.
Hey, you’re listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m your host, Dr. Vaish if you’re looking to demolish boundaries set on your child’s learning on intelligence. Whether your child is autistic or has Down syndrome, you’re in the right place.
Today we’re going to discuss the two biggest myths and nutritional interventions. And the reason most dietary changes do not work. And this is a short episode. This week, I saw an article in the psychiatry times about emerging research on dietary intervention for ADHD symptoms. Now, the reason I’m focusing on ADHD symptoms is these symptoms are often common in many children with disabilities, okay, when we’re talking about focus issues when we’re sometimes they’re talking about learning disabilities, sometimes we’re talking about impulsivity and hyperactivity, right.
So I’m really more interested in the symptom than the diagnosis. But coming back to the article, you can find this article by simply googling dietary interventions for ADHD, emerging research, and considerations. And this article reminded me of a not so recent podcast I had heard from Huberman’s lab but summarized many treatments for ADHD symptoms, among which included elimination diets.
Now the names for these diets that can sound pretty fancy are called oligo antigenic diets and oligo is spelled o LIGO the word oligo. antigenic literally means few foods. And that to me is super scary, right just listening to foods your child can only eat a few foods. But Dan Well, it’s a short term elimination diet short term also being a keyword that removes foods that are most commonly known to cause a reaction. But this article interested me a little bit more because I pulled out a few really interesting numbers, and one is that between 10 to 30% of children with ADHD do not respond to medication, or worse, they experience adverse effects from these medications. Now, adverse effects of Ritalin include increased irritability, new child, difficulty sleeping, and decreased appetite. And adverse effects of Adderall include loss of appetite, nervousness and insomnia.
So they have similar side effects to many medications, generally, including disruption and appetite, some irritability, nervousness and loss of sleep. Now, one of the reasons that side effects bother me is that many of the side effects can make working with your child harder, which is really the opposite of what one hopes for When taking medication. Now, 10 to 30% is no small number. And in this context, it makes absolute sense to look at dietary strategies. Because what is the worst thing that can happen when you try a natural intervention? Right? Well, it turns out there is the worst thing that can happen. And that is why we’re going to get into the two big myths of this entire food is nutrition idea.
Now food is a medicine idea. And if you’ve been following my podcast, and my work, you know that my focus is predominantly on using food as medicine, but there are two big ways that this can go wrong. Ready? Let’s go especially when you’re trying to support brain health.
The first big myth of nutritional intervention is that everything is okay in moderation. This myth likely originates in the weight loss industry and if that is your goal, and I sincerely hope that it’s not because we are talking about children here that that was someone’s goal. And if someone was not a child, then maybe everything may be okay in moderation. And even then there is a big maybe, especially since the volume we’re doing is counting calories. This idea everything is okay in moderation does not work for healing diets. The foundational principle behind the healing diet is that food is medicine. For everyone in this world, some food is medicine and some food is inflammatory. And if you’re working with a child that has gut issues, that is struggling with neurological issues, there may be many more foods that are inflammatory.
If you are trying to make an active change, it is important that the areas that are healing the foods that are healing are significantly higher in number and quality than the foods that are inflammatory. In fact, for a short time, you may need to shut off the inflammatory foods. Now there are multiple keywords here. One of them is definitely for a short time when we’re making change. All successful changes are made on a timeline and this is a fact that is often missed.
We’ll come back to this. Now, shutting off inflammatory foods is hard because inflammatory food is usually addictive. But taking every food that causes inflammation out of the diet is almost impossible. That is why my signature course offering role, which is a roadmap to attention and regulation. This is open for enrollment. Now, I take care not to stress the parent with too many factors to control and remove. In fact, enrollment to lower ends today and you can sign up at functional nutrition for kids.com/ Raoul, the link is in the show notes wherever you’re watching this episode and in the event, you reach this link, it’s no longer open for enrollment, you can sign up for the waitlist and I’ll tell you when it’s open.
Coming back to the article, I was talking about the dietary interventions for ADHD, emerging research, and considerations. It is interesting to note that it’s so interesting, that every one of the research ideas that all have all of what they had cataloged is emerging research is something that we actually cover as strategies and draw and there’s actually much more that we cover. There’s really happy to note that. Now the first myth is the myth of moderation, which doesn’t work. Moderation doesn’t work because eating inflammatory foods in moderation is not a good idea. The second point in this idea in this myth is that what you think is moderation may not be moderation right when my son was having only Paratus in yogurt for lunch, Weetabix with milk for breakfast and just to drink of milk for dinner, I did think he was eating healthy food in moderation.
Whereas I fail to see that every meal contains exactly the same food wheat and dairy, there was actually not helpful unless you count sugar and the occasional banana. When we think our children eat sugar in moderation, what’s often happening is that our kids are eating refined sugar at every meal combined with refined flour, disrupting their blood sugar, and creating an addiction to sugar. And I know kids who eat wholesome sweeteners like maple syrup, but there is no moderation and there is still an addiction to sugar. That’s how it works. Now the third idea about moderation is that addictive foods like refined carbs and sugar cannot be eaten in moderation. So moderation in itself is not bad. It’s actually a great idea.
If it is done within certain constraints of a healing diet. Some dietary constraints actually lead to major diversity of food choices. So you’re sitting if you constrain your diet a little bit, you actually end up eating more diverse foods. In my case, my daughter and I are currently on a vegan diet for a short time. I don’t believe a vegan diet works long term for everyone, especially people with gut issues. But this short term constraint has made our eating habits so much cleaner without much effort. Now just because I can’t have extra breakfast right now. I am eating and enjoying quinoa amaranth porridge for breakfast that I haven’t tried in years.
Today. I actually had a black rice beet porridge this morning. And yes, you heard that right. I’m noticing that these polishes are actually keeping making me feel a little bit more grounded and stable. It’s really feeling very fantastic in my body. There is a key point, a timeframe. I’m not going to be vegan forever, probably not. Whenever we’re trying to make a change, we’re trying to do this within a timeframe. Now our vegan diet, for now, is just for three weeks though we may renew our vows, depending on how we feel. The second big myth in the nutrition industry is the opposite of moderation. This does not mean going on a super restrictive diet, maybe the illegal antigenic diet or the gab site or the SCD diet or a keto diet for a long time. Okay, this is not what we’re talking about.
The opposite of moderation is not mega restriction. Long term diets that limit multiple foods can have disastrous effects on your kids God’s help and can be infinitely hard to get out of. Many restrictive diets can be incredibly healing to some people, but in the short term, and this is the keyword in the short term. When you’re removing more than 10 food groups, it may be time to think again about when and how you’re going to stop and reintroduce healthy foods. This is why in the roadmap to attention and regulation, I introduced the idea of what I call a least restrictive diet.
This is a term that I adapted from special education where Sharon Jorgensen, a visionary in the field of education, brought the idea of a least restrictive environment for teaching kids with disabilities. More on that in another podcast, but I think it’s high time we talk about the least restrictive diet as well. A diet with no restrictions is going to be a disaster for the three reasons I mentioned earlier.
Healing and repair require some constraints. A diet with too many restrictions can also cause inflammation over the long term. So today as you exit this podcast, maybe you can think about what the least restrictive diet looks like for your child and isn’t doing its job. And if you are interested in it, this works for you right now you can sign up at roadmap to attention and regulation. Still, open enrollment today and you can sign up at functional nutrition for kids.com/roar. Bye.
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