The rate of kids being diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders is increasing and has caused medical professionals and parents to take a closer deeper look into the relationship between gut health and brain function. Does your child exhibit symptoms of a learning or behavioral disorder? Are they also experiencing gastrointestinal problems? If both of these are true then leaky gut syndrome might be a contributing factor.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome & How it Relates to Brain Function?
The lining of our digestive tract acts like a barrier but with tiny holes that should only allow small, harmless particles to pass through. It also should prevent waste particles and undigested food from escaping. However, if this lining becomes compromised or has become more porous than normal, then any undigested food particles and waste products can get through the barrier and into the bloodstream. Whenever any undigested food particles and waste seep into the bloodstream, then the immune system responds with inflammation throughout the body, and leads to leaky gut syndrome.
This inflammation can then lead to symptoms like bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, rashes, achy joints, allergies, and more. These symptoms, as well as the chemicals produced during this immune response, can be contributing factors for kids who struggle with behavior, focus, and learning difficulties. Kids with leaky gut syndrome can also have experience with vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to poor absorption. This can also lead to more learning or behavioral struggles.
It is widely accepted that people with Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBS are much more likely to experience leaky gut syndrome. However the idea that children with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders can also be affected is starting to become more common. Recent research has showed that kids with ADHD are significantly more prone to bowel problems than their peers, and this highlights the need for more research to better understand the gut-brain connection.
How to improve digestion, gut health, and behavior in your child?
As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your child, especially when it comes to their health. While professionals in the medical field are constantly trying to understand the link between the mind and gut here are some things you as a parent can do to help your child.
Probiotics: micro organisms like bacteria and yeast that aid digestion and support a healthy immune system in their host when they are consumed, but in order to work properly, these organisms must be in balance.
Digestive enzymes: proteins that are primarily produced in the small intestine and pancreas, as well as in saliva, that help break down the foods we eat into nutrients that can be absorbed and used by the body.
Simple Diet Changes – Kids with neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder, and other behavioral issues often benefit from simple diet changes, as they are more sensitive to trigger foods like dairy, gluten, and artificial dyes. You might want to consider making these diet changes in order to improve the health and behavior of your child.