Surprising Research helps students through nutrition

I recently attended one of the most eye-opening seminars of my educational career. A local organization of parents, whose children have struggled with behavioral and learning challenges, "A Few Steps Ahead" sponsored this wonderful event.

AudienceThe entertaining and yet well-informed speaker was Mrs. Diane Croft, from the Colorado Springs area. She holds both a BA and an MA in Special Education as well as a certification in Nutritional Therapy.

In addition to well-developed material on the re-patterning of damaged or "broken" synapses in the brain, Mrs. Croft shared some tools to establish the mid-line for cross- dominant children.

The most fascinating part came as Mrs. Croft shared her expertise regarding the nutritional causes of serotonin depletion in the brain. Based on Dr. Michael Gershon's book The Second Brain, what was new to me was that 95% of serotonin (a feel-good neuro-transmitter) is created in the "gut" or intestinal tract. It is formed in the same area where the "good" bacteria are intended to balance the yeast production in our systems. She stated that when various factors allow the overgrowth of yeast in the system, a damaging depletion of serotonin and magnesium is created. This can result in angry, depressed or obsessive responses and can also affect the ability of a child to transition from one activity to another. Because of its affect on the connection between brain hemispheres, this serotonin depletion can severely affect learning and attention.

Some of the most common factors that allow this damaging overproduction of yeast in the gut are:

  1. high gluten (carbohydrate and sugar) content in the diet
  2. frequent use of antibiotics in childhood (killing the good bacteria that keeps yeast under control
  3. Mother's use of antibiotics during pregnancy
  4. Use of steroids (frequently used indiscriminately for breathing disorders.)
  5. Certain childhood vaccines (see Dr. Jacqueline McCandless' book, Children with Starving Brains.)

Croft suggested a 3-part, 6-week protocol that included two weeks of each of the following, adding each successive protocol if symptoms do not recede with the previous.

WARNING: Please do your own research on this. The Music Place is NOT giving nutritional or medical advice, but is simply sharing some notes from the meeting about approaches that some of our clients have found helpful over the years.

  1. Build up the good "gut" flora. Add a live probiotic (twice a day?) to some yogurt or other easy to blend food item. NOTE: The most effective probiotics like acidopholous are live and therefore need refrigeration. Look for capsules or liquid in refrigerated compartments at Whole Foods or other health food stores. Try this for two weeks. 
  2. Kill the bad "gut" flora" . Add grape seed extract for two weeks
  3. Finally, reduce the high carb sugar intake.  She strongly suggested NOT eliminating refined sugars right away because the bad flora (like yeast) that is "addicited" to the refined carbs may "act out" in the system by causing yeast infections or thrush if they are eliminated too quickly without good flora in the system.

Many wonderful success stories of parents who had successfully used nutritional changes to bring healing to struggling children inspired all who were there.

For more information on this and other non-drug help for your struggling (and often gifted children) please contact our office to put you in touch with Liz or Warren Shimada who can give you information about regular support group meetings in the Saratoga/Los Gatos area.