Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beyond "You Are What You Eat"--You are what you ABSORB

There is an expression "You are what you eat." When you think about it on a deeper level, and realize that every cell of your body has been created from the food you eat, it becomes a lot more powerful expression.

But, I would like to add to a little more to this simple statement. More accurately, YOU ARE WHAT YOU ABSORB. If you don't absorb the nutrients from the food you are eating, then the expression "You are what you eat" won't be true. All the healthy food in the world won't help you if you are unable to break down and absorb the nutrients in the food you eat. The same is true of vitamins--if you can't break them down and absorb them, then they might be a waste of money.

Some children are excellent at absorbing nutrients from food. Their bodies are efficient at breaking down food and extracting every last bit of nutrition from the food. These are children who might be able to eat a relatively unhealthy diet and still grow and thrive.

Other children aren't as efficient at breaking down food and despite a relatively healthy diet, they will have growth problems and vitamin deficiencies. Children who eat healthy diets but whose growth or development are not optimal might need to check vitamin status to make sure that they are properly absorbing nutrients. Mainstream doctors can do some tests to assess vitamin levels as well as test for gluten intolerance and allergies, but often an alternative or integrated doctor will do a better job assessing the overall nutritional status of a patient.

One of the main symptoms of celiac is malabsorption of vitamins and fats. This malabsorption of vitamins and fats can lead to growth, learning, behavioral and health problems. Because of our family's inability to absorb nutrients, even a nutrient dense, gluten free diet was not enough to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Two nutritionists told me that my daughter had the worst absorption they had ever seen--one said her absorption was worse than the worst case of IBD that she has seen. It is a huge relief for me, that after treatment for an underactive thyroid and the biofilm protocol, both my children's absorption of nutrients has improved.

I, myself, developed a nerve problem from vitamin deficiencies. Testing revealed I was low in copper, carnitine, B12, and arganine (an amino acid.) I was told that several of the vitamins I was low in were absorbed in the same area of the intestine indicating that absorption might be a factor. Pinpointing and addressing these deficiencies resulted in my nerve problem getting better.

My point is--everyone is different. While a nutrient dense, gluten free diet might be a necessity for some children, for others, it might not be enough and specific supplementation might be necessary. Some kids would quickly come unraveled eating a diet of mostly processed foods, but other children can thrive on whatever they eat.

Of course, everyone, in theory, would do better eating a healthier, less processed diet and I try to educate parents how many problems can be a symptom of poor nutritional status. But, I also try to remember that everyone is different and what is right for me and my family might not be necessary for others.

Mainstream and Alternative Testing for Food Allergies and Vitamin Deficiencies


Kari said...

We are dealing with this right now with our younger son. He eats like a horse, but his food choices are not so great (fruit only, a few pieces of bread each week - GFCF bread due to reactions). He literally will eat grapes all day long and nothing else. We have tried it all, including therapies.

A few weeks ago our pediatrician (she is vaccine friendly and does a lot of DAN! protocol for those on the spectrum or "spectrum like") mentioned a test to discover if he was absorbing nutrients (along with other tests). We did it only to discover that he could eat all day and is barely absorbing any nutrients at all. It's just sad what's happening in his body. On top of that, he has no good bacteria at all. I don't mean it's low, I mean it registers ZERO (no growth). Yeah, so we have to put him on two top notch probiotics and tested more things (they just came back today so we are waiting on our appointment). The few things he does eats are basically nothing to his body.

One thing to tell your readers is, kids with all these absorption, biotic, and gut issues can be chunky! Don't let a doctor blow them off because they aren't wasting away. My son doesn't look, to the common outsider, like a child with all these issues. But he has them. We supplement with very expensive medical foods, work like dogs to get foods into him, and work around all his allergies. Sometimes I feel like all my day is spent dealing with food issues, what he just ate, what he will eat, and what he didn't get in today's diet. That's what the doctors don't grasp many times.

Our new doctor believes me. She was willing to look at his diapers, listen to his history, and do some further testing to see what was happening in his body. Now we are starting to get a full picture of what's inside, and it's not good.

Sorry this is long, but I wanted to share that bit. I am sitting here bribing him into drinking his medical food (likes the taste, hates liquids for the most part, he has to be in a perpetual state of dehydration with what he doesn't drink) by giving him allergen-safe gummy bears. What most people do in 2 minutes takes us 40 minutes to do with regards to foods. Meals take us an hour or more. Fight for these issues. It's worth it once you start figuring it out.

Print this post
kathy said...

I am glad I found your blog. you have a lot of interesting info on here. I especially am interested in reading about fish oils. I have always gave my son ( he is dyslexic and A.D.D) flax oils but now have decided to buy the oils you recommended. I also have tried everything but I know omega 3 helps. I really like your blog and look forward to more great articles.

Print this post