“Let food be thy medicine.”

This week, we are talking about nutrition! We were so fortunate to welcome guest speaker, Maureen McDonnell, RN and Health Editor at WNC Woman. She spoke to parents about the importance of nutrition for our children, for their health and their futures. With chronic illness at an all time high in our country, it is up to us to do our part to stay healthy and avoid the common, everyday nutrition pitfalls!

Next time you are grocery shopping for your family, or out to dinner, consider these well researched tips provided by Maureen. Find a way to work these tips into your grocery list, recipes and even restaurant dinners. You won’t be sorry. The benefits are endless!

Maureen’s Tips:

1. Increase Pure Water Intake: Replace soda and juice with lots of pure water or water with a splash of juice. Add a little seltzer or Perrier for fizz. Keep your kids hydrated throughout the day by giving them at least six to eight glasses of filtered water.

2. Balance Blood Sugar: If a child has difficulty focusing, his moods are unstable, he gets irritated or anxious, or he has periods when he feels weak and tired, try giving him protein every three to four hours. Don’t overdo it, but a hardboiled egg, rolled p turkey slices, a handful of organic nuts, a protein based smoothie or a protein pop will do wonders for stabilizing mood, energy, focus and overall health. For snacks, instead of sweets or fruit, try some organic hummus, organic almond butter (if your kids don’t have a nut allergy) and chop up some veggies for dipping. Make some fresh organic chicken, turkey, beef and veggie based stews and soups and freeze them for meals during the week.

3. Improve Gut Health: Improve the health of the gut by reducing sugar and by giving your kids (and yourself) a high quality probiotic. Additionally, Google “fermented foods” and start making your own homemade sauerkraut (which is teeming with “friendly” bacteria that bumps out the bad organisms which in turn strengthens the immune system). Remember, 80% of the immune system is headquartered in the gut. So if your child is dealing with an immune dysfunction (recurrent infections, autoimmune illness like rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, allergies, etc.), start by healing the gut. Oh, and by the way, the brain neurotransmitter that is responsible for keeping us in a good mood, reducing anxiety and depression and helping us focus (called serotonin) is also manufactured in the gut. So, if you or your child have any of these conditions, working on healing the gut with a healthy, organic, non-inflammatory diet, probiotics and vegetable juicing is a very wise strategy indeed. It is often said in the holistic, integrative world of medicine, “Heal the guy, heal the child!” If your child has to take an antibiotic, be sure to give a probiotic (Not at the exact time of the antibiotic, but throughout the course of treatment and well afterwards) and continue to support the body nutritionally.

Remember, these things take time. We all want instant results. It is human nature. But this transformation does not happen overnight. Stick with it. You can do it! Take these tips and use them to build a foundation, get creative in the kitchen and at the grocery store. We know you will be better for it! Remember, we are in this with you. You are not alone!

Stay tuned, and stay up on autism!