For kids with chronic health issues, switching to an all- organic, non- GMO diet is crucial to wellness.
Sick has become the new normal for children. But the authors of a new book say that it’s possible to change that trend and dramatically improve kids’ health
My son has digestive issues, multiple food and environmental allergies, chronic sinus congestion, and behavioral problems. He was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Is it normal to have so many health problems at just 10 years old, and is there anything that can be done to address these different conditions?
— Barbara M., Bridgeport, Conn.
Unfortunately, having sick kids is incredibly common today. Close to one out of two children now has a chronic disease— defi ned as a disease that lasts more than three months and isn’t considered curable by conventional doctors. Digestive problems, food allergies, asthma, autism spectrum disorder, and attention defi cit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD) are all on the rise. According to the Allergy Kids Foundation, one in three American children has ADHD, allergies, autism, or asthma.
Pediatrician Michelle Perro, MD, and medical anthropologist Vincanne Adams, PhD, authors of What’s Making Our Children Sick?, believe that many of these issues can be blamed on an environment that has been made toxic by agrochemical industrialized food production. Kids are exposed to pesticides and other foreign chemical substances both internally, through what they eat and drink, and externally, by exposure to pesticides and other substances sprayed at schools, parks, and daycare centers. And we’re only beginning to understand some of the harmful eff ects of these toxic chemicals.
Problems with Pesticides
Take, for example, glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Its use in the U. S. agricultural sector rose 300- fold from 1974 to 2014. It is also used liberally in landscaping and along roadways.
Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic. Because it kills bacteria, it is believed to contribute to the development of dysbiosis, or imbalances in the gut microbiome, the collection of microorganisms that live in our intestines. Research shows that a healthy microbiome plays a vital role in digestive health and immunity. Imbalances in the gut microbiome are linked to a wide range of digestive disorders, as well as conditions, such as
autism, allergies, asthma, celiac disease, and ADHD.
Glyphosate is also a metal chelator: It binds minerals such as zinc and magnesium, making them less available. Perro believes that the saturation of metal- chelating glyphosate in our food is responsible for the mineral defi ciencies seen commonly in children. Glyphosate in our foods and environment is also of great concern because the weed killer has been declared a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Another chemical hidden in food is Bacillus thuringiensis ( Bt), found in insecticide- producing, genetically modifi ed foods. Bt breaks open pores and
creates small holes in the insects’ guts, and researchers theorize that it may also be promoting intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, in humans.
Perro says that approximately 95 percent of the children she sees with chronic health issues have evidence of dysbiosis and leaky gut, conditions that have been implicated in everything from allergies to autism to mental health disorders. To combat these toxins, she employs a variety of diff erent nutritional strategies to heal the gut and restore a healthy microbiome.
The Healing Power of an Organic Diet
While treatments diff er depending on the specifi cs of each child’s condition, Perro says that the place to start in nearly all cases is a 100 percent organic diet. By law, foods labeled with the USDA Organic seal can’t use genetically modifi ed organisms ( GMOs) or synthetic chemical pesticides ( such as glyphosate), both of which have been linked to a range of health issues in independent studies conducted on animals. “A cornerstone of any treatment for food- focused medicine is eliminating foods that don’t support gut health; this always means getting rid of foods doused in glyphosate, other pesticides, and those made of Bt,” Perro and Adams write in their book.
Although many parents scoff at the idea of going totally organic, Perro recommends sticking with organicsonly food for at least four weeks. Eating organic lightens the toxic load for all members of the family, and typically helps restore the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
In addition to benefi tting sick kids, going organic can off er health benefi ts for all members of the family— some quite dramatically. Do you have a question for the nutritionist? We would love to hear from you. Please email your questions to bnaskthenutrition[email protected] gmail. com.
Melissa Diane Smith is an internationally known journalist and holistic nutritionist who has more than 20 years of clinical nutrition experience and specializes in using food as medicine. She is the cutting- edge author of Going Against GMOs, Going...