A healthy kids brain

A HEALTHY KIDS BRAIN

By Naturopath and Nutritionist Shannon Stokes

Anxiety and depression in kids are becoming more and more prevalent and diagnosed earlier and earlier. But there is a lot to it, and I think a lot of factors are being missed. Luckily….there are countless areas in our children’s lifes that we CAN control to ensure their nervous system is functioning at optimal levels!!!

I could literally harp on about this for hours (for those who have been in consultation with me know just how passionate I am about children’s health)

For now let’s look at factors contributing to our tiny people’s mood changes.

1. Nutrient deficiencies

To start off with, the recommended daily amounts of essential nutrition is not being met. Full stop!

And scarily, these government recommend amounts are so ancient that they are merely focussing on preventing scurvy for example. Don’t we want to live a few steps above scurvy?

That aside, this western processed diet is lacking so much, that we aren’t even meeting the basics. So, with that being said are our kids getting important brain nutrients like essential fatty acids, b vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and prebiotic fibres? They are also fussier and so the vicious cycle begins! Essential nutrients for mood regulation are being missed. Fact.

Gosh, then there are absorption issues. (More on this another day) and so on.

2. Inflammation

Our tiny tigers are more inflamed than ever before. Depression and anxiety in my eyes are multi-faceted but also an inflammation disorder. Sugary and refined processed foods are inflammatory! Brain on fire baby. But luckily this can easily be rectified, via diet or supplements (until we sort those fussy banshees out). 🥴

3. The brain and gut connection

A two way street, a lot of neurotransmitters are made in the gut (think serotonin our happy hormone) if our gut is under-functioning, or we have an over load of the wrong bacteria causing inflammation in the gut and then the gut-brain-axis is disturbed. This again is a complex topic I am super passionate about.

4. Intolerances and allergies. Again inflammation!!!

Removing foods that the body and immune system are flagging as “foreign” and fixing the gut integrity can do wonders for little ones! Don’t go eliminating foods without speaking with a professional. We need to ensure our kids are staying nourished throughout this process and that it’s done correctly.

Kids are more anxious and moods are ever changing, and ever challenging. Mood changes are normal, but ask yourself, are they a little wild, are they showing anxious behaviour? Could we look a little deeper at what’s causing this?

Getting the right advice is really important when it comes to children’s health. Little changes can make a huge impact and improve how they feel, learn and grow.

Shannon Stokes is a children’s health expert here at the Natology clinic.

To find out more about Shannon or to book in click here:

The Natology Team

Nutrition tips for fussy eaters

Getting Kids to have the right nutrients can be stressful for everyone involved and both our toddlers have gone through phases of fussiness since they started solids. Here are our top tips for fussy eaters:

1. Listen to cues from your baby or toddler. Babies thrive on a bit of a routine, but at the same time
it is really important to listen to them and find out when they are hungry and offer the evening meal at
a realistic time. Bubs are usually hungry around 4.30 or 5pm. Offer the main evening meal then. It is more
likely to be eaten at this time rather than 6pm or later when they’re getting tired and cranky.

2. A toddler may need a little bit of down time before main meals so they can “come down” from
playtime and transition to eating time. A table setting and hand washing routine may help with this
(at the daycare our boys go to, they do a few ‘yoga’ stretches before lunch). Often you are likely to get a
negative response if we pull them away from doing something fun, just like us adults get frustrated
when we’re pulled away from the middle of an episode of Suits.

3. Try not to get too hung up on the time of day your child eats or how much they eat at each sitting,
listen to them and get to know their hunger cues. Do they get whingy, cranky, hangry or manic when they
are hungry? If they have a bigger morning tea than breakfast, roll with it.

4. Don’t worry if you child decides on breakfast for dinner sometimes. If they occasionally want fruit
and cereal for dinner and meat and vegetables for breakfast, it doesn’t matter as long as both meals
are nutrient dense and it’s doable of course.

5. Don’t expect your child to eat well or very much if they are overtired or are a little under the weather.

6. Kids won’t starve. Their tummies are roughly just the size of their fist so serve just small portions
initially and then top it up with more later if they want more. Smaller meals are less overwhelming to
little tummies.

7. Kids are rapidly growing little tigers and have super fast metabolisms, they don’t need much to feel full
so never fuss or insist they eat more when they say they are full.

8. All snacks should be nutrient dense. Try not to offer “empty calories” to them in between meals, try
to offer something which is protein-rich. Hummus, boiled eggs, cheese, coconut yoghurts, bliss balls, or
homemade muesli bars are great snack options.

9. Stop all snacks and drinks at least one hour before mealtime (especially dinner). A hungry kid, and
even the most picky kids are more likely to eat their meals.

10. Have a safe food at every meal. If you know they love rice or noodles or carrots, try to add one of
their safe foods in small amounts so they don’t feel overwhelmed with ALL new foods at a meal time.

11. Lead by example. Kids are more likely to eat something if they see someone they admire eating
it. If we say we don’t like something, chances are that’s what they’ll say when presented with the
same food.

12. Don’t stress. This is the biggest tip. Having a fussy eater or even just a day of fussy eating can make
you want to pull your hair out but as long as you’re serving good, wholefoods, your child will be just fine
even if all they eat is cheese for a day. Always keep in mind that kids go through growth phases
where they will eat like they’re training for a marathon followed by a period of not eating all that much.
This is normal

This article was written by our Naturopath and Nutritionist Shannon Stokes.
Shannon loves to help Mums and bubs get health and on track with the right diet.

To book an appointment with Shannon please click on the booking link on our homepage.

What is the deal with Folate during pregnancy?

PRECONCEPTION

Why is MTHFR important in preconception and pregnancy ? 

Written by our fertility Naturopath – Shannon Stokes

1. MTHFR is an enzyme in your body that converts the folate you eat (leafy greens and legumes) into a usable and active form for absorption
2. If you have a mutation in the gene (which is what we can test for) the absorption of folate you consume via diet or prenatal vitamin will be affected. 
3. Folate is absolutely essential for a healthy pregnancy. 
4. If we know there is a mutation in this gene we can help ensure you are getting the right types of active folate to assist with getting you pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy and healthy growth and development of your baby. 
4. A mutation in one of the tested genes or even both of the genes tested is very common and could be affecting your chance to conceive or have a healthy pregnancy. 
5. Taking higher doses of folic acid in a prenatal vitamin if you have this gene mutation is not the answer and can be impacting your fertility and may lead to pregnancy struggles. 
6. So many foods and cereals are fortified with folic acid which is overkill if you ask me, so you may be overloading via diet and then taking a prenatal vitamin with already high levels of folic acid form. 
7. This science is hugely complex and not a one size fits all approach, don’t opt for a quick over the counter prenatal vitamin especially if you feel there might be some problems getting pregnant or having frequent miscarriages.
8. Some of the signs that you may have a defect are;

depression
– fatigue
– anxiety
– low B12 levels
– elevated homocysteine (blood test)
– multiple miscarriages
– ADD
– ADHD
– high blood pressure
– chronic constipation. 

All this aside, it is important to know that the MTHFR gene resides in every single cell in the body. People with the genetic variant can have up to 40-60% reduced ability to utilise folate. It is suggested that 1 in 4 people carry a variant or mutation. That’s pretty high odds if you ask me?!
If you would like to know more, call us for a chat and get the test done at our clinic or have it posted to you. The test is simple and quick with a finger prick test and the information gained and treatment post MTHFR test is actually really easy, but always individualised! 

Credit:

Shannon Stokes

Naturopath and Nutritionist at our Brisbane clinic.

Specialising in fertility, pre-conception care, pregnancy and women’s health, children’s and adolescents Nutrition

To learn more please contact us!