Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Our Science Experiments

Let's get really honest with ourselves. Looking in the mirror naked level of honest with ourselves. Raising children is really a science experiment, whether or not we want to call it one.

Some friends and I joke about the fact that our children will definitely end up in therapy, blaming us, at some point. We just hope it's for a perceived slight and as a feedback step in their maturation process. You know, something like:

My mom never let me eat sugar and now I find myself unable to stop dreaming about lollipops. She also kept me from eating grains and I will only date men with tractors and large fields of wheat. And oh, the potatoes. I am an artist and will only do ink stamped paintings with potatoes. I am obsessive about these things and cannot quite shake it. Do you think the Specific Carbohydrate Diet / Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet could have done this to me?

Well, I've put that fear to rest. Besides, there is a great article at The Onion telling me I'm doomed anyway. LOL! I am loving these children with every pot of stock I make and I hope that by the time they are teenagers they will make healthy food choices that support their bodies. They will be out on their own and you cannot control teenagers anyway (well, without some sort of hellish payback when they turn 18 and leave the home and run off with... let's just not think about those poor kids). So we talk about the science behind the healing and about the choices and outcomes. Once we had a huge histamine binge (watermelon, cherries, pork, avocados, sauerkraut, and more -- all in one day) and when they were itchy and losing their minds I was able to link it together and point it out to them. My youngest still looks at me a little funny sometimes but her older sister knows there is a method to the madness and a reason we are doing it.

As the girls begin to feel better and we meet other families healing themselves I notice, with particular interest that although the sample population is small, the results are 100% success in moving toward improved health. It does not mean that everything will be fixed via this diet, but the evidence is overwhelming that even given a short period of time there is improvement. Over longer periods of time the true healing can occur.

So now I sometimes find myself dreaming of a fantastic science experiment to prove that the SCD / GAPS diet is more successful than any other intervention. One that would divide a class of children into two groups and provide support to the GAPSters as they made the changes. For three months only one group of kids would be on the diet and at the end of the three months if the other families wanted to move to the diet they could do so. Wouldn't it be amazing if half the class was suddenly "coming alive" and the other parents couldn't wait to join the progress?

In researching autism spectrum and helping my daughter and other mothers, over time I have come to believe that for many children today what it really is, is a diagnosis of malabsorption and strange nutritional deficiencies. Add certain amino acids, the ticcing / stimming will stop. Get a kid the minerals he/she needs and the pica will stop. Decrease inflammation while supporting a child's body nutritionally and the language will explode.

You are what you eat.

Note for professionals who tell parents otherwise: Please come visit my home. Please speak with my child's teacher. Please drink two bottles of wine. Please try to pass a sobriety test. Then let's talk about how what you put in your mouth can and does affect your brain.

Gradually, we Americans are turning into a pile of toxins and cross-contaminated, genetically engineered, industry by-products masquerading as food. I call it PHood. As in. PHuey!

While I don't think that diet alone will take care of every child's needs, it is the place to start. Until you simplify a child's diet you cannot uncover the problems with the system versus the problems with the fuel in the system. It is the basic logic behind a controlled study. Control your variables so you can see what is actually changing.

In a scientific study you want a control group so you can compare the outcome of the group being studied to a "normal" population. When you are talking about a complex system like the human body, one that is unique to every individual, it is impossible to have a true control group. Its the reason we start with rats, conchs, or fruit flies. Simpler systems yield (supposedly) a greater ability to control variables.

With a set of neurological symptoms like autism, autism spectrum disorder, or ADHD every child experiences it a bit differently and has slightly different neurological symptoms. Not only that, but their bodies are different, their blood chemistries are different, and the same foods cannot necessarily be tolerated by each child. So how could you do a study with these kids?

I think the control has to be time. This way you could compare "normal" as the time before you introduced the change. Same system + different external / influencing factors at two separate times = controlled study. It seems to be the best control for this situation given the complexity of the system you are trying to control and the degree of difficulty in observing the progression of changes when only some of the symptoms are neurological.

Eventually our support system is going to cave under the pressure of all the children that need intensive therapies and the parents and medical community will be motivated to find another route to help the children before they are three years old. For many of them there were early warning signals - shots fired across the bow of the medical establishment. But nobody wants to talk diet and if they do dare to talk diet they tend to use general terms like gluten-free or whole foods (if you are lucky). My greatest hope is that in time our medical community will come up with a new diagnosis that reflects the root cause of the issue rather than just the neurological symptoms. That way it will not be "standard" to wait until a child is three to give an official diagnosis. If the root cause is found to be a digestive issue or a problem with the food given to the child and how that food interacts in his/her system, that is something that is present and available for diagnosis from a very young age.

One day we will all embrace the little, cuddly science experiments we call children and learn to read these early warning signs and symptoms. I almost feel sorry for our pediatrician because although I could go in and present the growth chart progress (or lack thereof) from when ZiZi dropped from the 75th percentile to the 3rd percentile in height and the 75th percentile to well below the 3rd percentile in weight, what would she have done differently? Few pediatricians know anything about this diet and even fewer still would dare to mention it to a parent. It is extreme parenting and the failure rate in the first week is high. But for those who make it past the first week the success rate is even higher. Many parents call this diet their most important and successful intervention.

We parents who have had these extreme experiences must go back to the pediatricians and to the medical establishment in their own form (studies, conference speakers, whatever) and give them new tools. Ultimately, if enough kids continue to have these issues and cannot handle the processed toxins we call PHood perhaps industry will even be motivated to join our science experiment rather than keeping us hostage in the sick experiment they have been conducting for a few generations. Their experiment is not going well. But the clean foods experiment is going very, very well.

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