Counting Green Stars

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Operation Clean-Up: Soy

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Soy is such an unassuming and harmless-looking legume. What reason could I possibly have for pulling it from Corban’s diet? Read on to find out more about phase three of Operation Clean-up.

Here was our Operation Clean-Up 101 (phase three): Soy 

Soy is one of the most controversial foods in the world today, and when you begin a clean-up diet for your child, controversial foods should raise red flags and motivate you to look more closely. Questions about soy abound. Is it safe? How much should we be eating? Is it really a super-food? These questions are important because everywhere we look, the soy bean is lauded as a cheap, low-fat, cholesterol-free source of high-quality protein.

While whole soybeans are a good source of protein, in this country we don’t eat the whole bean. The majority of soy in the U.S. is processed to make soybean oil; and the waste product from that is then used to make soy protein, which shows up with all nutrients stripped away in our processed foods. The fact is that most people in the United States are eating a lot of soy without even knowing it.

Here are some quick facts about soy:

  • Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that can interfere with hormones in the body
  • Soy has phytic acid, which prevents the body from absorbing important minerals, like magnesium (which many of our ASD children are already alarmingly deficient in)
  • Soy blocks enzymes that are necessary for the digestion of certain proteins
  • Over 90% of soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified, and the crops are sprayed with the herbicide Roundup, which has been found to be toxic to human cells.

So for these reasons—hormone interference, GMOs, pesticides—soy is something we’ve excluded from not just Corban’s diet, but from all of our diets.

To find out more about soy and studies of its toxic properties, reference the FDA’s Poisonous Plant Database and report.

Results: This clean-up phase was a hard one to measure, as we didn’t see any obvious or significant change in behavior. However, for all of the reasons mentioned above, the whole family feels better about restricting the amount of soy we consume.

Suggestion: Watch labels for: soy lecithin, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, texturized vegetable protein (TVP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and any other phrase containing the word ‘soy’.


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Operation Clean-Up: Refined Sugar

OpClean1The second phase of cleaning up Corban’s diet was to pull refined sugar. I know that sugar contributes to many serious health conditions (heart disease, cancer, cataracts, emphysema, anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity). But when I learned that refined sugar is tied to decreased immune function, I knew we had to see what would happen when we took it out of Corban’s diet.

For children with developmental delays, sugar is especially harmful. This is true because many children on the autistic spectrum have food allergies, damaged intestinal tracts, out-of-balance gut flora, and yeast (Candida) overgrowth. Yeast is especially alarming because it feeds on sugar. Then the yeast:

    • produces toxic chemicals including alcohol, which the blood carries to the brain and affects nerve growth and brain development
    • depresses the immune system and makes a child more sensitive to other allergies to food and environmental stimuli

So how did we begin this second phase of our Operation Clean-up? We began by religiously checking processed food labels for the following sweetener ingredients and strictly limiting them in Corban’s diet:OP-sugar

        • white sugar
        • brown sugar
        • raw sugar
        • confectioner’s sugar/powdered sugar
        • cane sugar
        • sucrose

We also completely avoided these sweeteners:

Being informed is the first step to making positive change. If you want to learn more about why sugar is dangerous to our health, click here to watch the video, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Results:  Corban became a lot less moody and combative after only a few days without refined sugar. The frenetic activity, including stimming, decreased substantially. The other enormous impact we saw was that previously, Corban had been constantly sick, catching one thing after another. After pulling refined sugar, he’s had only one mild cold in the last 9 months. Now that’s progress.

Suggestions: While I will not recommend or endorse any specific sugar and sweetening products, I’ll tell you the options we’ve tried and had success with: xylitol, brown rice syrup, organic honey, and stevia. I monitor the information and research on these options closely to make sure we’re making the safest, healthiest choices available. If you’re concerned about introducing or excluding anything from your child’s diet, work with your doctor.

Keep a food diary so you can track your child’s response and to watch for a change or reduction in ASD symptoms once a particular food is removed.

 


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Operation Clean-Up: Food Additives

OpClean1Research has linked the brain to gut health and other imbalances in the body. And we know that the foods we—and more specifically, our autistic children—eat play a major role in cognitive function.

As we started phase one of our Operation Clean-up for Corban, I pulled Food Additives from his diet. I chose something that seemed manageable and obvious, and that might produce some noticeable results. I had no idea if any of this would make a difference, but it couldn’t hurt. These things were pulled from the whole family’s diet, so I could compare how Corban responded with how the rest of the “neuro-typical” family members responded.

Here was our Operation Clean-Up 101 (phase one): Food Additives

We eliminated all artificial food dyes, flavors, and sweeteners from Corban’s diet. Many children are sensitive to preservatives and artificial food coloring. Additives have been shown to trigger disordersHFCS like ADHD, hyperactivity, and anxiety. And the base ingredient of some of these products is petroleum. If you’re interested in finding out more, there is a lot of information online about things like aspartame, saccharin, red dye 40, yellow #5, and what impact they may have on health.

We also eliminated high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This came after reading some information from Raymond Francis, an MIT scientist and nutrition consultant, who described the way our bodies process HFCS as, “like alcohol without the buzz.” And it is in EVERYTHING, from bread to condiments to ice cream to soup.

The first time I went grocery shopping and began reading labels to avoid these items, it took me 2-1/2 hours to shop. It was more of an education than a grocery run, and I admit it left me feeling a little sick about the foods we consume in this culture without even thinking about the ingredients we’re ingesting.

Results: At the end of one month, we saw immediate and noticeable improvements in Corban’s attention span, focus, and physical tics/stimming. He simply calmed down. For the first time in his life he was sleeping through the night and was markedly less anxious. He stopped walking in circles, and he responded immediately when we spoke to him. As a family, we have been food-additive free for almost a year.

Suggestion: If you are interested in trying this with your child and/or family, read the labels of the products you buy and eat. Keep a small notebook with the date you started, what you eliminated from the diet, and some brief notes about what your child is struggling with (start with the obvious behavioral issues). After a few weeks or a month, go back and review those notes.


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The Great Experiment

OpClean1Almost one year ago we embarked on an experiment to see if we could recover, reverse, and/or heal Corban’s autism. Was this even possible. And if so, how much?

It all began with reading two books I happened across that shifted my world. These books introduced me to the idea that just as the foods and additives in our modern diet can affect a healthy person’s health and behavior, it might have an even more significant impact on an autistic child’s health and behavior. The encouragement behind this message was to strengthen the child’s immune and digestive systems and get back to the basics of what is going on in our child’s body and brain.

That wasn’t too much of a stretch for me. I agree that what our kids eat has at least some impact on their health. But how much? Could pulling things from Corban’s diet help him, either in general or with autistic-specific challenges?

In the midst of dozens of books and on the verge of overwhelm, I knew we needed to take a step for Corban. At the very least, I wanted to know if diet impacted my son’s autistic challenges. I didn’t want to wait until I had read everything there was to know about this subject. That might take months! So following my rule of thumb — to try anything that sounds practical, reasonable, safe, healthy, and non-invasive — I decided to tackle our operation clean-up for Corban in phases.

Tune in tomorrow to read about our first experiment phase — Operation Clean-Up 101 — and what results we saw in Corban.


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Red Dye 40 and ADHD

reddye40(WZZM) – More than five million children in this country are diagnosed with ADHD, but how many of them truly have the disorder? Could some of those children be eating something that only makes them appear to have the condition? Research has suggested a link between children who are hyper and appear to have ADHD, and Red Dye 40.

View seven-minute video to learn more.