September 18, 2017
Stress - the true troublemaker in all our lives.
When I think about children and disease, I am always thrown with how poorly kids feel somatically when they are under psychological or physical abuse/stress. Over the last 18 years in clinic, over and over again, I have found the root cause of most belly and headaches to be diet and stress. When these two variables are fixed, disease abates.
I think of the great book, The Blue Zones, where two pillars of a long life are a whole foods, predominantly vegetarian diet and a village support structure. Modern American life is fragmented at best with jobs moving families away from their village support structure and a diet that is fast and non nutritious.
Modern studies have shown us that a specific carbohydrate diet can "cure" Chrohn's disease. I put "cure" in quotes because, in effect, we are putting the disease in remission by removing the antigenic protein triggers for disease. We have patients in practice that are clinically "cured" by following this diet.
Unfortunately, patient care experience has taught me that chronic and acute psychological stress can blow up anything.
Therefore, from a systems biology perspective, the treatment does not end here. We must prepare for a stress overload. To not prepare is akin to accepting failure before it comes. This is not how we should do things.
To prepare is to look at stress and where it arises from and then mitigate it at its source or further downstream where necessary. When I think of "at the source", I think of the parent child dyad. Helping a parent learn to parent more effectively is a root location for stress reduction for both the child and the parent. All children are different and their personalities require different inputs for stability.
Sources for parental learning can be found online at sites like:
Top Four Books are Great
Implementable ideas for consistent stress reduction:
1) Eat a diet that is predominantly plant based and has little to no added sugar, gluten/dairy ( unless you are sure that neither food type bothers you - see previous newsletters at www.salisburypediatrics.com. )
2) Practice the 4/7/8 relaxing breath daily. This breathing pattern will increase in the parasympathetic nervous tone that reduces stress. It is fabulous and frankly everyone should do it.
3) Consider adding prebiotic foods and probiotics to your diet. Unmodified potato starch is a fabulous food for our good bacteria. Promoting our good bacteria may be one of the most important avenues to a healthy outcome. I cannot stress this point enough. I am testing the micro biomes of sick children frequently now and a depleted bacterial flora is the norm. This is correlated with increased stress and disease.
4) Develop a village of support around you but do not become a victim of circumstance. The village is there to help you stand back up, not to keep you up. Own your choices and all circumstances good and bad. Taking ownership of everything is the first step to overcoming any obstacle. Read Extreme Ownership By Willink.
5) Exercise or physically work daily. Exercise is a natural stress reliever. The benefits of exercise are clearly anti inflammation, anti stress, and anti aging as previous newsletters have touched on.
6) Reduce your exposure to toxins and chemicals which place more pressure on your cells to function in a stressful hormonal environment.
7) Start meditation relaxation and prayer daily. Think of three things that you are grateful for everyday. Check out the apps Calm or Headspace for guided meditation practice. Great for teens!!!!!!
8) Make sure that you are getting 8 hours of restful sleep or more based on age. It is becoming very clear that sleep deprivation accelerates aging and hastens the onset of mood disorders.
9) Consider supplements that support the adrenal and stress systems. Consult with your provider.
10) Believe in yourself and the healing properties that are inherent to your genes. Positive self thought is unbelievably powerful in turning on resilience pathways.
Lack of Sleep study