Healing a Leaky Gut in a Very Picky Child
This may take a while, but please bear with me! My now 12-year- old is an extremely picky eater with a very limited diet (Pizza, mac & cheese, grilled cheese, pancakes, waffles, and chips - but only salt and vinegar). When he was 2 1/2, he was hospitalized with rotovirus. Up to that point, he ate everything; he wasn't the least bit picky. After being sick, things gradually dropped out of his diet. He would (and still does) have a panic attack if you put a food in front of him that he doesn't like or doesn't recognize. These days we sometimes have to force him to eat something - anything. I now suspect a food allergy. I'm not sure how to take away the only foods that he will eat. I recently started him on probiotics. Is there anything else (supplement-wise) that I should be giving him? I'm hoping that, once we fix the gut, he will begin to eat other foods (I have heard that this happens, and it's the only thing that gives me hope, so if it's not true, don't tell me!)
I know that without removing the offending foods (at least for a while) that we won't be able to completely fix it. Is it possible to even make progress in that direction just by supplementing?
I appreciate any help you all may have!
He will eat when he gets hungry enough. Remove the crap, and replace it, period.
Actually, he won't. There are kids/people out there that will literally starve themselves. The way it was recently explained to me, the pain that they feel from being hungry is preferable to that which they experience with the food. I don't know. He's been know to go 2 days without eating anything. I'm just not really comfortable with that.
You could try giving him glutamine in water (very mild taste). It helps feed and heal the intestines, and also is good for avoiding sugar cravings.
One can know that his trouble is probably gluten ... but also maybe oxalates. Turning this suspicion into effective action might be harder. By the way, Yahoo has a low oxalate group which is very smart about such things. Lots of children with celiac problems, oxalate problems, sometimes making autism worse. They have some very good discussions about which foods or supplements may be harming their children, and what to do about it. They might be better able to reply to your questions than the people here.
A twelve year old is capable of understanding that the foods he is eating are making him sick. Leaky gut will not be fixed unless the offending toxin is removed. Get him therapy if need be. The grains must go.
I understand what others are saying, but you might have to start slow. There is a gluten-free bread called Udi's that tastes pretty darn good. The same company makes a decent pizza crust. In the past, gluten-free breads were awful; these aren't bad. They're not ideal, as they are still grains, but they're not gluten. One thing to note is that although Udi's bread is the closest to gluten-containing breads I've ever tried, they are not nearly as "heavy" or filling to me. I could eat a grilled cheese on one and not feel sick...same calories, probably higher glycemic response because gluten-free foods are usually higher glycemic, but I didn't feel ill.
Yes, he probably realizes these foods are making him sick. I realized for a long time that gluten was making me ill, but I kept eating it. There's an addicitive nature to these foods.
I guess I see this as how difficult it will be for him. If you really think he'll starve himself, I'd do the following: 1) eliminate the gluten by using substitutes, 2) eliminate sugar, 3) eliminate the other grains including the substitutes (except maybe rice occasionally), and 4) eliminate dairy if necessary. This is actually what I've done and I'm 31! I couldn't just give it up all at once; it's psychological for some people. And I'm not weak-willed, as I suspect he isn't either. I am working on #3 as I still have rice occasionally.
Will he eat soup/broth? If so, try to make some homemade as it's very healing.
Good luck to you. I know this might be hard. From what I understand, wheat and dairy both contain proteins that can feel addictive to people with leaky gut.
I also notice that most of his favorite foods are a combo of wheat and dairy -- big signs of food issues.
If you need a sub for the mac & cheese, Annie's makes a decent rice mac & cheese (I think it's the same as Trader Joe's sells under their private label) -- just don't overcook it. Again, not ideal because it's grain, but by getting rid of gluten, you will make major progress. At least that's how I see it.
And no, supplementing alone is not going to cut it. Sorry.
You could give him special digestive enzymes to minimize gluten issues, but that doesn't fix it. It looks like he is constantly feeding a reaction inside his body that wants gluten-dairy-gluten-dairy-gluten-dairy. Trying supplementation only is like trying to put band-aids all over a burn victim. It just doesn't work.
With certainty, he is zinc deficient. Don't be alarmed by the term anorexia. The medical symptom of 'anorexia' can be Anorexia Nervosa, but someone can have 'anorexia' without having Anorexia Nervosa:
I've seen several friends kids go through this when I participated heavily in food allergy forums (my little one had severe food allergies). It's very very tricky but is treatable.....the gut will fix itself when you get nutrition on track. One of my friends with a similar child - huge freakouts with unfamiliar foods, refusal to eat anything knew and refusal to eat pretty much anything aside from gluten, dairy and potatoes - did finally go 'tough love'. He didn't eat, iirc for 3 or four days. I could email her and ask if you want. But eventually he did eat. Having said that, he did have a long period of supplementation under his belt by the time she 'went' there. He was getting optimal levels of zinc, b vites, D, Ω3:Ω6 etc.....she wouldn't have done it before getting to that point.
Consider dealing with the anxiety, ridigity along with the sensory and food issues. It'll take a multipronged approach.
Here are some resouces:
Animal Pharm: Wheat: Would You Give Your Kids Crack? - drbganimalpharm.blogspot.com
Gluten: It's bad news | Hunt.Gather.Love. - huntgatherlove.com - edit - delete
and just about everything at the following two blogs:
- Perfect Health Diet » High-Carb Diets Can Be Tough on Bacteria, Too - perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=611
- Magnesium and the Brain; Evolutionary Psychiatry - evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/.../...
See my linked docs below for more information on nutritional support and mental health. Calming his brain with plenty of magnesium and inositol will only be helpful.
Google pyroluria - and it's relationship to anxiety, zinc, B6. (I think I have an article on it in my links). It's controversial but I found it helpful to treat it
Fix his intake of Ω3:Ω6 and phospholipds - even if you have to do it via supplementation at first.
Optimize his vitamin D intake - thereby optimizing his 25(OH)D serum level.
Chances are that he'll eat rice and potatoes? That would at least get him off the opioid peptides of gluten and dairy.
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Katherine has such excellent advice.