Studies Show Extra Nutritional Support May Help Special Needs Children

Studies Show Extra Nutritional Support May Help Special Needs Children

All children require comprehensive nutrition from their diet if they are to grow into healthy, active adults.

Special needs children are no different, and in fact, studies show special needs children may have physical problems and nutritional deficiencies that should be addressed for better health.

According to these studies, special needs children tend to have weak immune systems, causing decreased resistance to infections, particularly upper respiratory and ear infections. (1)

They may also suffer from autoimmune problems, food allergies, heavy metal toxicity and sub clinical hypothyroidism. (2)(3)

Many studies done recently show that a special needs child has a problem with their microbiome, the gut. (4)

A lot of problems are also due to these children tending to have vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly shortages of zinc, selenium, vitamins B6 and magnesium. (5)

Orthodox medicine defines special needs as a neurological disorder and treats patients with behavioral modification programs and with drugs. However, the brain is a physical part of the child, and brain function can be improved through nutrition.

Environmental physicians, defined as doctors who study the relationship between patients and their environment, see positive changes when nutritional programs are followed.

What Can You Do?

A good, nutritious diet is so important for everyone, but particularly for children. Some foods, although tasty, can harm the immune system, the autoimmune response, and disrupt the gut microbiome.

The most important thing to address first is the gut because if the body doesn’t digest food properly, the needed vitamins and minerals will not be absorbed or utilized well.

One should ensure that the diet of a special needs child incorporates foods that supports the gut. The more healthy and gut friendly foods and drinks they consume, the better their overall health will be.

Here are some foods that will help the gut and provide much needed vitamins and minerals.

Fermented Foods

Fermenting is a method of preserving foods with bacteria and yeast. When you eat or drink fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles or sauerkraut, you get the live bacteria in them. This makes them a great source of probiotics.

Yoghurt is usually enjoyed by children. But for gut health, they should only consume sugar-free yoghurt. Foods high in added sugar will eliminate the beneficial bacteria in their gut. Buy sugar-free yoghurt, or try mixing fresh fruit, such as blueberries and strawberries, with plain yoghurt to make it tastier for children.

Foods that Feed the Microbiome

Prebiotics function as a food source for the gut microbiome to help it do its job. Consuming dietary prebiotics to feed the microbiome, such as apples, cocoa extracts, bananas, and nuts can help support an optimum microbiome in children.

Vegetables

Vegetables are beneficial for the gut because they contain fibers that cannot be digested but are consumed by the good bacteria in the gut. The more vegetables in a child’s diet, the better, but any parent knows this is not always easy as many children are picky eaters.

Some vegetables that feed the microbes in the gut are leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, and root vegetables.

If children won’t consume cooked vegetables with a meal, an option is to make a healthy smoothie incorporating a greens powder to provide a good serving of vegetable nutrition.

Camel Milk

Most children love milk. But autoimmune problems that special needs children often have can make them lactose intolerant and have an allergic reaction to cow milk products.

Camel milk is well tolerated even by the lactose intolerant and those with Cow Milk Protein Allergy.  

Camel milk has protein, carbohydrate and calorie content comparable to whole cow milk, but it also has some big nutritional advantages.

Camel milk has more calcium than other milks and beneficial levels of bioavailable minerals – selenium, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, and other minerals. It also has 3 to 5 times more Vitamin C.

The higher level of certain amino acids (such as methionine, valine, and leucine) found in camel milk as compared with cow milk, can help proper growth and development.

The results of recent studies of camel milk indicate that camel milk therapy over the course of 4 weeks significantly improved clinical measurements of cognition and social communication in the children involved in the studies.

Camel milk can help promote optimum gut health because camel milk contains probiotics (good bacteria) that can help keep the gut microbiome in balance with optimal numbers of the good bacteria and help keep bacteria in the right ratio to one another. Both things are important for better health. (6)

So, these are just a few tips about ways to support the good health of special needs children.

References:

  1. Immune Dysregulation in Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Do We Know about It? - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35328471/   .  by the Autism Research Institute in San Diego,

  2. Is autism an autoimmune disease? - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15546805/
    Interaction of Heavy Metal Lead with Gut Microbiota: Implications for Autism Spectrum Disorder - PubMed (nih.gov)
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37892231  

  3. Perceptions of Parents on Management of Food Allergy in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Saudi Arabia - PubMed (nih.gov)
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36670599/
    Hypothyroidism and autism spectrum disorders
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1577897

  4. Reference: The Connection Between Autism and The Gut Microbiome Is Clearer Than Ever

    Role of Gut Microbiome in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Its Therapeutic Regulation – PMC (nih.gov)

    Association Between Gut Microbiota and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis – PMC (nih.gov)

    New research clarifies connection between autism and the microbiome (medicalxpress.com)

    The Human Gut Microbiome as a Potential Factor in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  5. Vitamin/mineral/micronutrient supplement for autism spectrum disorders: a research survey Vitamin/mineral/micronutrient supplement for autism spectrum disorders: a research survey - PubMed (nih.gov)

    How nutritional status, diet and dietary supplements can affect autism. A review
    How nutritional status, diet and dietary supplements can affect autism. A review - PubMed (nih.gov)
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23789306

  6. Camel milk contains probiotics, including LACTOBACILLUS PANTARUM, LACTOBACILLUS PENTOSUS & LACTOBACILLUS LACTIS.

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