Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nutrition..Part III

I wanted to wrap up my series of nutrition posts about how I am attempting to address many of Blake's health issues through healing his gut.  You can read this post, this post, and this one to get caught up. 
Just wanted to share these pictures from the 3 weeks we were at Blake's orphanage. I am having fun looking back through them and seeing how far he has come in the past 6 months!

The final two things I want to discuss probably aren't quite as romantic as clearing up eczema, but are still important.  Plus, these are probably two of the biggest complaints I hear from other mom's about their children.  And I firmly believe they are directly related.

Sleep.  And poop.
I still get this ornery look several times a day.  Followed by him sticking his tongue out and spitting at me!

Yes, I told you.  Not fun.

I'll talk sleeping first.  This issue was one that has plagued us for the past 6 months, and I won't say we are in the clear yet, but we are at least sleeping through the night for the most part, now.  Many of Blake's sleep issues were related to anxiety, being in a different place, fear, over-stimulation before bedtime, gas, teeth, new noises, a screaming, crazy little sister in the same room.  But I also firmly believe a lot of his restlessness at night was related to not feeling well.  He would often wake himself up rolling around and around in his crib.  Throwing his head back and forth.  As he has gotten adjusted to life here he seems to be relaxing more, partly to beginning to trust us, and partly because his body can relax at night too.  His digestive system isn't leaving him bloated with undigested food sitting in his gut, fermenting while his brain attempts to send signals to the rest of his body to rest.  His cortisol levels aren't spiking at night either, due to his stress levels diminishing, and due to his body being able to catch up post-healing.  So he is getting quality sleep, as well as quantity. 

Still one of my favorite's of he and his daddy the first week we were there!
Besides having a very strict bedtime routine, which is helpful for all 3 of our kids, we also provide Blake with supplements that will help him enter a deeper stage of sleep.  At night we typically supplement his applesauce with melatonin, vitamin c ascorbates powder, calcium, magnesium and zinc, as well as flax oil to help his body absorb the other vitamins better.  Other steps we try to take are not having him eat much within two hours of his bedtime.  For one, he does not chew his food well, so we often find food pocketed in his cheeks hours after he's eaten.  So we don't want him to choke, but also because his body doesn't breakdown the large chunks of food as easily.  The more he chews his food, the more stomach acid is produced.  The less he chews, the less the food gets broken down because of the lesser amount of stomach acid.  This leads to more food sitting in his tummy undigested...yuck!  We try not to do any sugar after the afternoon snack either.  We want the insulin levels to stay down as his brain tells his body to prepare for rest.  Another thing we tend to do is take baths at night before bed.  I always put a few drops of lavendar essential oil in with the bath water to help with the winding down.  Kids with sensory issues, which includes most with special needs, tend to be calmed by baths and water. 

We realized how much he loved knocking over blocks!
Now onto his pooping.  Constipation is a HUGE issue with many kids I know.  I hear many a mom complaining about her child not having a BM in the past few days.  I was already aware that children with Down Syndrome usually having chronic issues with constipation, so I did a lot of research on this issue as well.  I believe a lot of the issue is related to low muscle tone, therefore peristalsis is not as strong and effective at pushing bile on through the digestive tract.  Again, it sits undigested and ferments or it escapes through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream.  Either way, little is being passed out of the body.  So keeping Blake hydrated is really important.  But I think the key factor with his ability to have 1-2 BM's a day is reducing the inflammation in his body by removing gluten/wheat products and dairy products.  As soon as we removed these products from his body, within 2 weeks his body was cleansing itself as normal.  I also think the flax oil is helpful in keeping his system lubricated.  I know colostrum is known for its healthy effects on one's digestive system too. 
And this is where he is now.  Safe with us.  Learning to box! :)

Anyway, these are the final 2 pieces of the puzzle that I feel we have put together in helping Blake heal through nutrition therapy and experimentation.  I am sure we'll continually be adjusting as we go, but for now we are seeing HUGE leaps and bounds in his progress as a result of the steps we are taking.  I'll keep you posted as we go...

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