Feeding the Brain

Feeding the Brain
Heidi Clopton, Pediatric Occupational Therapist at Center of Development & Jason Clopton, Developmental Optometrist at Center of Vision
www.developmentaldelay.net  Heidi@covd.biz

A good friend sent me a quote from Dr. Oz the other day and said it reminded her of me…”When I look at a grocery store, I’m looking at a pharmacy,” said Oz. She knows, along with all my therapists, clients, friends and family how passionate I am about the foods we eat in our family. Wasn’t it sad how much trouble he got into from just warning America about the toxins in our children’s foods?

Something isn’t right in our society when you get flack for just trying to help others make informed decisions for their health and wellness. Obviously in the last century something has changed… “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~Thomas Edison

My passion for the connection between food & brain began when I was pregnant with my first child, Ella Grace. Somehow eating what I thought was a healthy diet, I had Gestational Diabetes. I started fervently reading books and articles on nutrition and healthy pregnancies. I learned a lot about how America is being fooled into thinking we are eating healthy, when in comparison to the rest of the world, we are one of the sickest countries. I started following the Honest Food Guide, and stopped counting fast food as a real food. I learned to look at food as nutrition for my brain & body. Everything I put in my mouth, and most importantly into the mouths of my children is doing something…it should be beneficial and not harmful.
This passion became an obsession when I had my second daughter, Leah Faith. At age 2 she was scared of crowds, made little eye contact, had severe constipation, eczema, sinus issues, multiple allergies, had sleep issues, and threw tantrums often. The breaking point was at her 2nd b-day party when she cried & had to be held constantly. When everyone sang happy birthday she was covering her ears and crying. I thought…”my child has Autism or severe Sensory Processing Disorder, I need to treat this now”. I started looking at the clients in our therapy practice that were overcoming their sensory issues, autistic behaviors, ADHD, and other health issues and they all had a few treatment strategies in common. I started reading every book I could find on how the foods we eat cause, prevent, and treat disease. I have not stopped reading yet!

From that point on, I have looked at every child, every patient, and every person I encountered and their health, behavioral, and emotional issues with a new set of lenses. I had gotten a prescription for lenses that taught me to look at how everyone was feeding their brain.

For all those busy families out there, I am happy to share my version of Cliff Notes on what I have read, learned, and the common denominators from all the experts on nutritional health, neurology, gut absorption, and emotional disorders:

12 steps to Feeding the Brain
1. Feed your tummies a diet rich in purified DHA, pure water, fruits and veggies, and lean protein foods. Become an expert at juicing and you can hide all kinds of greens and fruits in a great tasting smoothie! No artificial colors, preservatives, flavor enhancers, nitrates, etc. Nothing artificial or words you don’t understand should be in your foods. Limit highly processed foods and fast foods, artificial sugars or dyes. For our family also limiting casein (diary) and gluten (wheat) products in our diet has made a dramatic difference. For a great fridge reminder on how the healthiest countries eat, print out the pyramid from HonestFoodGuide.org.

2. Limit TV, screen time, and video games to near nothing before age 3 and limit to 30 minutes a day after that. Near focus time should be saved for educational needs on computer and at school, not for “fun”. Video games should be movement based and NEVER violent. Limit to 30 minutes as a privilege that is earned…not given freely.

3. Low stress environment is vital to a child’s emotional, physical, and mental health and their IQ!

4. Create a “love for learning” environment where a child can learn, explore, have questions, and even make mistakes…but learn from their mistakes and have a love of learning. Let them learn it is okay to take intellectual risks…and learn from it. Children need to feel like they are succeeding…not failing all the time. Play family games and board games often!

5. Feed the brain myelin for faster connections, more focus, and “prune” the excessive connections by repetition, DHA daily, plenty of purified water daily, and lots of calming touch inputs. Research shows that children who are raised in a loving environment full of loving touch (hugs, being held while reading a book, etc) have a higher IQ. Memory is enhanced by deep pressure touch (massage, hugs).

6. Sensory diet rich in movement, sports, and hands on play experiences.

7. No lights or TV in room when sleeping- any light source at night, especially a TV decreases Melatonin production in the brain…you need this neurotransmitter to have good sleep cycles!

8. Supplement diet with DHA, milk-free probiotics, all natural food based multivitamin, fruit and veggie gummies, and have heavy metal, iron & iodine levels checked.

9. Goat milk based formulas best if you cannot breast feed. Goat milk is the closest animal milk to human breast milk without the high risk of food sensitivities/intolerance that comes with cow’s milk.
10. Watch intake of sugars, especially high fructose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose or any –ose sugar. These contain excitotoxins that cross the blood brain barrier disrupting production of important neurotransmitters and promote free radical damage to brain cells.
11. EXERCISE daily with 70% max heart rate aerobic exercise at least 30-60 minutes a day!
12. Learn what your child’s love language is and learn to speak it every day: Time, Touch, Words of Encouragement, Acts of Service, or Giving.

I am happy to tell you that after following this 12 step program of Feeding the Brain that Ella does not have diabetes, Leah Faith does not have Autism, and Jase is a happy healthy child. Following these recommendations I have also cured myself of many issues that I had struggled with for years.

To become an informed parent please read books by the following medical doctors who are the experts: Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD; Dr. Perlmutter, Neurologist, Dr. Bock, Dr. Kartzinel, J. Ratey, MD, Dr. Sears, and of course Dr. Oz!