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Archive for the 'Health & Fitness' Category

Why Poor Kidney Health Can Be One of the Causes of Gout

Posted in Health & Fitness on October 17th, 2008

One of the causes of gout that many people fail to consider is impaired kidney health.  If you’re trying to manage kidney problems, you’re at a greater risk of hyperuricemia, and are therefore more prone to experiencing gout attacks.   The reason for this is if the kidneys are not functioning at their best, they struggle to process and remove excess uric acid from the body, allowing it to build up in the bloodstream and ultimately crystallize in the joints.

The people most likely to suffer from gout as a result of a kidney disorder are those who have adult polycystic kidney disease, the most commonly inherited form of kidney disease. Symptoms include pain in the back, kidney area or lower sides, headaches, UTI’s and blood in the urine.

If you believe you might have any form of kidney disease it is important to see your doctor right away.  You will also want to educate yourself as to the many ways in which your life will be affected and which treatments will best suit your needs.  You will need to understand the relationship between your kidney disease and your gout in order to treat it properly.

Similarly, it seems that gout can also increase the risk of experiencing kidney stones.  Between 10 and 40 percent of gout patients will experience kidney stones at any one time after they have developed hyperuricemia.  Though the stones will typically be composed of uric acid, they may also include other materials too like calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, or additional substances combined with uric acid.

If you’re suffering from kidney stones you can probably expect to experience one or all of the following symptoms; acute pain in the lower back/side, groin or abdomen, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine and sometimes fever or chills.

However, the good news is that there are steps you can take to improve the health of your kidneys, therefore avoiding the development or kidney stones, while minimizing the chances of a gout attack at the same time.  For example, adopting healthy lifestyle choices in terms of exercise and diet will increase your resistance to all of these problems.

Uric acid build up can also cause more severe problems for the kidneys; chronic uric acid interstitial nephropathy (kidney damage) occurs when there is a build-up of uric acid crystals to the point that they block the exit of fluids from the kidney.  However, when properly managed, this condition can be reversible in many cases. Also a sudden increase in excess uric acid can lead to full kidney failure, however this is very rare.

To keep kidney’s healthy and avoid gout flare ups treatment may include simple steps such as changing some of your dietary choices, but may also include more specific therapies like the use of vitamin C, which is becoming increasingly recognized for its abilities to lower uric acid levels in the body.  It’s also important to make sure you drink sufficient amounts of water to keep your body well hydrated at all times as this helps to dilute uric acid levels and gives the kidney’s a helping hand in flushing out the unwanted uric acid.

The decision for the treatments you’ll be using will be directly related to the causes of gout that are influencing your attacks.  Get to know your body so that you’ll be able to make informed decisions along with your doctor.  Be sure to ask questions and educate yourself for the best possible treatment.

Grab your free copy of Lisa McDowell’s brand new Gout Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about the causes of gout and for information on other gout symptoms please visit Cure Gout Now

Acid Reflux Weight Loss Part 5 Maintaining Weight Loss for Long Term Heartburn Acid Reflux Relief

Posted in Health & Fitness on September 29th, 2008

Heartburn acid reflux symptoms aren’t the only reason to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight, but they can be an important motivator.  As you develop new habits and maintain the weight loss, you’ll find that the exercises you include as part of your lifestyle for improving your acid reflux symptoms leave you feeling energized and positive.

Exercising releases endorphins in the body, which are hormones that lift your mood and give you an emotional boost.  But that’s not all, endorphins aid digestion and reduce the sensation of pain (they act like a natural pain killer), meaning that exercise can directly effect the reduction of acid reflux symptoms. 

However, it’s important to note that not every exercise is suitable for acid reflux sufferers. When deciding on which exercises to introduce it’s wise to choose low impact exercises to avoid stimulating reflux.  The timing of when you carry out your exercises is also important, as strenuous activity too soon after eating can encourage reflux. 

The most appropriate exercises are those that allow your body to remain upright, as opposed to reclined.  For example, avoid weight lifting exercises that require you to lie on your back as this creates an increased risk of acid reflux as opposed to bicep curls performed either sitting or standing.

If you enjoy cycling but find leaning over the handlebars and rough terrain bring on acid reflux, try the stationary bikes in the gym or get one for at home. Alternatively, stick to the streets and avoid the off road courses. The same theory applies for any sort of exercise that includes a lot of up and down movement, including running. 

Before exercising start getting into the habit of having a light meal beforehand and wait at least an hour before getting started.  Choose foods that are low in fats and proteins, sticking instead to mainly carbohydrate based meals as this can help avoid discomfort as you work out.

Don’t forget to stay well hydrated during exercise. This is especially important for acid reflux sufferers. Sufficient levels of hydration helps to neutralize acids in the stomach as you exercise and will keep the esophagus washed clean should you experience a small amount of reflux. If you want something a little different on occasion, try watering down non-carbonated sports drinks to add a bit of flavor to your hydration.

Speak to your doctor to help choose the right exercises and timing for you.  You will likely receive recommendations for toning, stretching, aerobics, and rest.  Take each of these elements seriously and follow the suggested activities carefully.  Keep in mind that everybody has their own reaction to different foods and activities, so what may work for someone else may not work for you. 

With that in mind, don’t let acid reflux keep you from exercising.  Always remind yourself of the importance of exercise to keeping your weight down, your body healthy, and your GERD symptoms under control.  Should you be unsuccessful with one kind of exercise be prepared to try another until you find ones you are happy with and get you the results you are after.

If you can’t seem to find an exercise that will agree with you yet, you may wish to speak to your doctor about taking over-the-counter antacids before you exercise, to avoid the risk of exercise-induced acid reflux symptoms. This may be the help you need to get your weight down to a point where you don’t need antacids anymore when increasing your activity level.

The more you maintain a healthy weight, exercise level and acid reflux friendly diet, the more you should find your heartburn, acid reflux and GERD symptoms decrease.

Grab your free copy of Kathryn Whittaker’s brand new Acid Reflux & GERD Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about heartburn, acid reflux and GERD and for information on acid reflux weight loss please visit Stop Acid Reflux Now.  

Acid Reflux Weight Loss Part 1 - Need Acid Reflux Help? You May Want to Look to Weight Loss

Posted in Health & Fitness on August 22nd, 2008

If you’re seeking acid reflux help, one of the first things to realize is that being overweight or obese, even by few pounds, can increase your risk of acid reflux; increase the number of attacks you experience, increase the number and severity of symptoms, add to your risk of developing a hiatus hernia, and can make acid reflux generally a more debilitating condition. But how do you know if you are overweight or obese?  How do you know how much weight you need to lose to receive meaningful acid reflux relief?

The first thing you should understand is the difference between being overweight and being obese and what each of these terms really means.  Overweight is a term used by doctors and health professionals in order to identify if a person has excessive body weight including fat, muscle, water, and bone.  On the other hand, obesity is a condition that refers specifically to an excess amount of fat in the body.  It is therefore possible to be overweight without being obese, such as in the case of bodybuilders and some muscular athletes.

In terms of getting acid reflux help for your symptoms, obesity is what needs to be avoided, as it is the excess of fat in your body that has shown to cause the heightened risks and acid reflux symptoms.  Obesity is measured by determining the amount of fat in your body.  Keep in mind that body fat is a natural part of our makeup, and is required to survive.  Fat is vital for many functions such as storing energy, absorbing shock, and insulating for temperature regulation.  Women, as a rule, have a larger percentage of body fat than men.  Generally speaking, the majority of health professionals consider a man with more than 25 percent body fat, or a woman with over 30 percent body fat to be obese.

It isn’t easy to measure the precise amount of fat in a person’s body.  The most accurate ways to determine this is by weighing you underwater and measuring water displacement, or by using a special form of X-ray test called a Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA). Clearly, these are not techniques that you will be able to apply at home whenever you want to check your body fat level.

Some doctors measure the thickness of the fat layer beneath the skin in specific body parts often using specially designed calipers.  Others use a harmless electrical current that runs through your body to judge the amount of body fat.  Some gyms and health clubs, as well as some weight loss programs also offer these forms of measuring fat body.  However, should they be performed by an inexperienced or poorly trained individual, the results can vary widely and be quite inaccurate.  Furthermore, if you are severely obese, these tests are less likely to be accurate.

Therefore, it is useful to have a tool of your own for judging your level of body fat.  This measure is referred to as the body mass index (BMI) and is based on weight-for-height tables that provide an acceptable range for an adult of a given size.  Though this is not as accurate as some of the other tests previously mentioned they are much more practical to the average person.  Keep in mind that these tables don’t distinguish between increased levels of fat and muscle, so a very muscular person could easily appear obese according to BMI tables.

That being said, the BMI is the current standard used to measure the amount of fat in the body of an adult.  The higher the BMI, the greater your risk of obesity and the higher your risk of increased problems with acid reflux.  The BMI formula can be calculated as follows:

- Your current weight (lbs) multiplied by 703 = X
- X divided by your height (inches) = Y
- Y divided by your height (inches) again = Your BMI

If your BMI is below 18.5, you are typically considered to be underweight.  If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you’re within your healthy weight range.  If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, you may be overweight.  If your BMI is greater than 30, you are at risk of being obese.
If you are overweight or obese, some of the best acid reflux help you can get is to start an acid reflux diet and exercise program to lose weight and reduce your symptoms and risks of greater GERD problems.

Grab your free copy of Kathryn Whittaker’s brand new Acid Reflux & GERD Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods of natural acid reflux help , plus useful suggestions for successful acid reflux weight loss that include delicious acid reflux foods

An Interesting Way to Treat Gout Uric Acid Manipulation Through PH

Posted in Health & Fitness on July 29th, 2008

Gout uric acid is one of the primary contributing factors to the painful symptoms experienced by gout sufferers. Therefore, controlling the production of this substance is key to getting symptoms under control. One of the techniques that are now being used to accomplish this is by changing the pH level of the body in order to manipulate its uric acid production.

pH stands for the power of hydrogen and refers to the acidity level in the body. That is, when the pH levels of the body are raised, it becomes more alkaline, while lowering pH levels makes the body more acidic.

Therefore, by raising the pH levels in your body, you are effectively putting into practice a natural gout treatment. The theory behind this is that by making the body more alkaline, the uric acid levels will be reduced. This is because uric acid can be diluted by drinking water, and the more alkaline the body is, the more water-soluble uric acid becomes. And so, the higher the ratio of alkaline to acid in the body, that is, the higher the pH level of the body (or the number on the pH scale) the more alkaline your body will be, and the more uric acid will be dissolved into the water you drink.

If the uric acid level of the body is kept below a certain level (6.0mg/dL for men and slightly less than that for women) then gout crystal formation will be much less likely to occur.

In order to make your body more alkaline, the most commonly recommended technique is to drink alkaline (ionized) water. This is water that has additional OH oxygen as opposed to O2. You can drink it or cook with it.

Alkaline foods and beverages can also be eaten in order to increase the pH level of the body. This is trickier for some people, though, since the pH level of foods is not mentioned on the nutrition labels on food product packaging. However, there are some foods that are known for their alkalinity, as well as being good for helping to control gout symptoms for other properties such as anti-inflammatory. These include:

- Cherries (the darker, the better)

- Celery

- Strawberries

Alcohol, which is highly acidic, as well as other acidic foods should be avoided as they rapidly decreases the pH level of the body, negating the impact that the alkaline foods would have.

If you want to know more about increasing the pH level of your body in order to help treat your gout, you should speak to your doctor. He or she will be able to advise you as to whether this is the right kind of treatment for you, and will be able to assist you in choosing the right foods and finding a supplier for ionized water.

You may find that in addition to changing the pH level of the body, gout uric acid can also be reduced with the application of certain herbs, but be sure to consult you doctor first to ensure there are no interactions with any prescribed medications.

Grab your free copy of Lisa McDowell’s brand new Gout Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about ways to lower gout uric acid and for information on uric acid diets please visit Cure Gout Now

Is Juniper an Effective Way to Treat Gout Naturally?

Posted in Health & Fitness on June 23rd, 2008

An increasing number of people today are choosing to treat gout using natural and herbal remedies as opposed to relying fully on medication to ease the pain and discomfort that it can cause.  Among the natural treatments currently gaining a great deal of attention is Juniper. 

Juniper berries from the evergreen plant Juniperis communis are also known as gin berries.  They are relatively small, bluish-purple berries that vaguely resemble blueberries.  They are about ¼ inch in diameter, and have a surprising, spicy flavor with subtle pine undertones.

There are many benefits to taking juniper berries, including their use to help ease gout.  The juniper berry encourages the flow of urine and detoxification of the bladder, kidneys, and prostate.  It is also becoming celebrated as an effective preventative and treatment for urinary infections. Of course, juniper berries are probably most commonly known for the flavor they provide when making gin.

Juniper berries contain many compounds, including camphene, cineole, alpha and beta pinene, myrcene, and terpinene volatile oils.  Additionally, juniper barriers also contain active ingredients such as lignin, gum, resin, sugar, beta-carotine, wax, betulin, catechin, borneol, glycolic acid, linalool, limonene, rutin, menthol, calcium, tannins, chromium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, Iron, as well as many other valuable vitamins and minerals.  There is even a compound with potential anticancer and antiviral properties called deoxypodophyllotoxin in juniper berries.

As an antiseptic and a diuretic that promotes a healthy urine flow and urinary tracts, excess water and toxins are expelled from the body when juniper berry is taken.  Even more important to gout treatment is the fact that juniper berries help to prevent uric acid crystallization and aids in the expulsion of sediment.  As gout is a result of buildup of this uric acid crystal sediment in joints, the ability of juniper to inhibit this process is critical to its effectiveness when attacks occur.  Instead of having a buildup of these crystals in the joints, they are harmlessly passed in the urine.  This also helps to prevent gall stones and kidney stones.

When a gout attack occurs, it is not too late to take juniper as it also contains helpful and effective anti-inflammatory properties, easing the pain and pressure of gout as well as arthritis in the joints. This may be why gin was once recommended to treat gout and arthritis (though it is now known that the alcohol in gin can actually negate any of the benefits of the juniper so don’t go rushing to the nearest store for a bottle).

Overall, the humble juniper berry is considered to be an effective herbal treatment for purifying the blood and cleansing the body of toxins and undesirable buildups, allowing the body to better fight off infection and disease.

Juniper is easiest to take in the form of capsules, which you can get from most health shops and may be taken several times every day. 

Before beginning treatment with juniper to treat gout, make sure to talk to your doctor to ensure that there aren’t any other conflicts or issues of which you should be notified.  You should always make it a habit to review gout medications and discuss your options before beginning new treatments.

If you’ve suffered from a gout attack or two now is the time to take action to stop the attacks in their tracks and discover effective preventative steps before your uric acid levels get out of hand.

Grab your free copy of Lisa McDowell’s brand new Gout Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about how to treat gout naturally and for information on gout home treatment please visit Cure Gout Now

Too Young for Gout Disease at 30? Think Again…

Posted in Health & Fitness on May 23rd, 2008

Gout disease is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age.  The reason for this is that it takes a build up of about twenty years to cause a first gout attack.  Uric acid levels will usually begin to increase at least that far ahead of the onset of gout. However, this does not rule out gout in people younger than 30 years old.   Therefore, just because you’re under 30, it doesn’t mean that you can’t develop gout.

Although not common, gout disease can occur in those younger than 30 years old; usually as a result of an enzyme problem or kidney disease.  However, when not a result of another problem in the body – for example, when gout is simply hereditary in your family – there are steps you can take to prevent the early onset of gout.

The first step is to make sure that you are always adequately hydrated.  Of course, this is a good piece of advice for your health regardless of gout, but it is especially important when you are trying to prevent the condition. This is because hydration is the primary step for helping to flush uric acid from your body.  The buildup of uric acid on the joints is the primary cause of gout and therefore the main goal of gout prevention is to stop that from happening.

Your next step is maintaining a healthy body weight.  If you are overweight – especially if you are obese – it is important for you to speak to your doctor about losing weight gradually and in a healthy way so you achieve a healthy body mass and maintain it.  Though being overweight doesn’t directly cause gout, it can put you at higher risk of having attacks. However, take care not to lose weight too quickly as crash dieting can actually increase uric acid levels and lead to a gout attack.

Even if you are already at a healthy body weight, you should examine your diet and make healthy dietary changes to include optimum nutritional choices, and low quantities of foods that are both high in purines and in proteins.  These foods, such as meat, fish, and beer, are the primary causes of increased levels of uric acid in the body and should therefore be avoided.

Reduce your alcohol consumption, especially if you tend to binge drink or drink to excess.  Alcohol is not a cause of gout, but it can negate all of your other efforts to prevent gout disease from acting up.  Alcohol will dehydrate your body and it causes uric acid to form.  Therefore, it not only builds your uric acid levels, but it discourages your body from eliminating that uric acid.  So it is best to avoid alcohol altogether when you are working to prevent gout disease.

If you have hyperuricemia, you are at a higher risk for gout disease.  Hyperuricemia means that you already have high uric acid levels in your blood.  If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe medications to help control that condition.  By keeping hyperuricemia under control, you can also help to slow the onset of gout and prevent gout disease occurrences.

By taking these basic healthy precautions, you will be able to minimize the impact gout has on your life, and delay its onset for several years.

Grab your free copy of Lisa McDowell’s brand new Gout Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about gout disease and for information on overcoming gout symptoms please visit Cure Gout Now

Simple and Effective Autism Modifications for the School Aged Child

Posted in Health & Fitness on April 3rd, 2008

When a child has special learning needs, it is important to make the right modifications in the classroom, at home, and during other times of learning and education.  Keep in mind that learning isn’t just something that happens at school with teachers and textbooks.  Learning and understanding come from every part of life, and with the right autism modifications, it can be at its most effective for your child. 

There are five primary autism modifications that can help your autistic child get the most out of his or her own potential.  These include:

- Visuals – as autistic children commonly achieve their best learning when visual aids are used, they should be among the modifications made to ensure an effective learning environment.  Visuals can include:
- An individually tailored visual daily schedule that illustrates the day’s activities.
- Visual highlighting of important points made throughout lessons through the use of cards of picture books etc.
- Color coding for relevant and important information i.e. Red for work time and blue for playtime.
- Directions and sequencing through visual cues such as picture cards
- Visual signs for making activity endings obvious.

- Assessment and evaluation of sensory needs – Once an evaluation has been completed, suitable sensory activities should be scheduled into each day.  Such sensory activities may include:
- Chair push ups
- Swing-sets and monkey bars
- Carrying heavy objects and light objects to different designated locations via designated routes
- Biting, crunching, sucking, chewing, and blowing with food, bubbles, etc.
- Fidget toys
- Always making appropriate modifications for temperature, lighting, sounds, and smells
- Exercise every day

- Environmental modifications could include:
- Limiting potential for distractions in work areas and at home
- Having close proximity to instruction area and materials
- Setting visual boundaries where necessary with screens or curtains etc
- Learning areas made obvious through seating and furniture arrangements, masking tape, carpet squares, etc.

- Consistency – Make sure any modifications, techniques or teaching strategies are consistent between the classroom and home.  This includes methods of scheduling the day’s activities, and forms of communication.  This consistent approach should be applied to as many different environments as possible, so children know what is expected of them at any given time.

- Build Social and Emotional Strength – Give the autistic child activities that are specifically designed to support social and emotional skills.  These skills should be a serious focus at home and at school.  These are the skills that will be essential for your child’s daily life and functioning throughout childhood and adulthood.  It will likely be among the most challenging subjects for your child so it is important not to underestimate the impact social and emotional development and skills can have.

Beyond autism modifications in the classroom, there are many other things that you can do to help your child to function and adapt to life’s demands. However, no matter what you choose for your child, you must make sure that the decision is based specifically on your child’s unique symptoms of autism and their needs.  Discuss any decisions with your doctor, specialist or therapist for further expert advice.

Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans’ brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find out about autism modifications and for information on autism resources please visit The Essential Guide To Autism

Don’t Let Your Gout Cause Depression

Posted in Health & Fitness on March 13th, 2008

Openly talking to your doctor about medication and other facts of gout, will help you avoid letting your gout cause other issues in addition to the painful attacks you’re already experiencing.  The reason why it is important to be able to freely talk about your gout condition is because gout can cause depression.

Feeling depressed or down is a normal part of life and is experienced by most people from time to time.  Everyone goes through bouts of apathy, despair, and exhaustion, a case of the blues that takes hold and doesn’t let go.  Depression can occur for many reasons, and poor health is one of the major causes.  Therefore, if you’re not careful, you can let your gout get you down.

How can gout cause depression? 
- Painful attacks
- Not being able to use the affected joint during an attack
- Not being able to enjoy certain activities
- Avoiding foods you love eating because they can cause gout
- Knowing a gout attack can recur

How will you know if you are depressed?  Signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling helpless and/or hopeless – feeling that a situation with never become better or change
- Loss of interest in everyday activities - no longer participating in hobbies and activities once enjoyed
- Significant weight loss or weight gain (a 5% increase or decrease in body weight in one month)
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (oversleeping)
- Feeling restless or sluggish
- Feeling exhausted and physically drained, even when doing simple tasks
- Self-loathing
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritable – easily frustrated, annoyed or angered
- Feeling aches and pains – having headaches and gastrointestinal complaints (I.E. constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc.)

How can you treat depression related to gout?  If you are feeling depressed, the following are a few self-help tips to aid you in eliminating the blues gout cause.  Just remember that in order to successfully self-treat depression you need to want to recover from your condition and give it everything you’ve got.  Therefore, you need to be practical, open-minded, and above all, be yourself!

Talk to someone supportive – Talk to a good friend, or talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have about your condition.

Research gout – Find out how you can treat and prevent gout attacks so you don’t let gout cause symptoms that are painful or depressing.

Enjoy the food you eat – Just because you have to avoid certain foods rich in purines, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy eating anymore.  Find out what foods are low in purines and are considered gout-friendly.  Some examples include, chocolate, carbonated beverages, eggs, sugar, milk products, bread, grains cereals, rice, pasta, cheese, milk products, tomatoes, fruit, and some green vegetables.  Use these foods to create healthy new recipes.

Exercise – Exercise helps blood flow thorough your body and improves circulation.  Exercise also releases endorphins which make you feel better, improves your sense of well-being, and can help you avoid the negative feelings gout cause.

Take time to relax and avoid stress – You may be overworking yourself and your body.  Tell yourself you deserve a break and take the time to do something you enjoy and focus on clearing your mind.  For instance:
- Take a hot bath
- Listen to music
- Get a massage
- Spend time with a pet
- Read a book
- Write in a journal
- Take a walk and enjoy nature
- What a comedic movie or T.V. show

Finally, always remember that if you are suffering from prolonged depression (depression that lasts for months) due to a gout cause, or another issue, you should seek immediate medical attention before your depression moves beyond your control.  Major depression is a mental illness that needs to be taken serious and treated.  Therefore, you may be required to take medication such as antidepressants to help you overcome depression so you can move on with your life.

Grab your free copy of Lisa McDowell’s brand new Gout Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about gout causes and for information on gout remedy options please visit Cure Gout Now

Top Tips to Relieve Your Autism Diet Worries Today

Posted in Uncategorized, Health & Fitness on February 1st, 2008

Autism diet recommendations can be many and varied.  Some experts will suggest gluten-free and casein-free diets.  Gluten is a substance found in breads and other grains and casein appears in milk and dairy products.  The belief is that some people with autism have trouble digesting such substances, resulting in a decreased, foggy state of consciousness.

Other autism diet suggestions include cutting out yeast and sugars, and concentrating on consuming larger quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Each of these theories have solid research to back them up, but while adults may be able to make dietary decisions for their children, it is not always as easily applied as they may wish.

Kids are still kids whether they have autism or not!  They have individual tastes, and will prefer some foods to others.  It is not always easy to remove the foods that they enjoy, and introduce those that don’t typically appeal.
So the following are practical tips for parents who are aiming to introduce a healthy autism diet.

Turn it into finger food.  Some small children can be more likely to eat something when they know what’s in it, and often enjoy vegetables raw rather than cooked.  A healthy diet should include generous servings of vegetables in at least two meals a day so try slicing up a selection of vegetables like carrots, broccoli and sweet red pepper into little sticks and serve them plain or with a dip for dunking.

Offer berries.  Almost all types of berries are nutritious and rich in antioxidants so keep strawberries, blueberries, raspberries – and any other berries that you can find and that your child enjoys – on hand for snacks. They can satisfy a sweet tooth and don’t break the rules of most autism diets.

Sugar-free sweetening.  You can still give your kids sweet things without loading them down with sugar. Stevia can be an effective solution for this problem.  Readily available in health food stores, Stevia is a South American herb that’s sweeter than sugar and is an excellent alternative, as long as it is used in moderation.  In most autism diets, other sweetening agents – sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, jelly etc – should be kept to an absolute minimum. Stevia can be used in many of a child’s favorite recipes such as in lemonade and cookies.

Use supplements.  If you are worried that your child’s diet isn’t giving them all the nutrition they need, speak to your doctor or naturopath about supplements. When kids are off dairy products, they may need calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D.  Enzyme supplements can help aid digestion.  And there are a host of other beneficial supplements from fish oil to amino acids, Vitamin B12 to calcium, magnesium and zinc.  Many come in child-friendly chewable forms but always check with a health expert first, as many of these chewable vitamins come with a high dose of sugar.

As with any dietary change, make certain that any decisions made are discussed with a qualified doctor, first.

Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans’ brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find out about autism and diet and for information on autism resources please visit The Essential Guide To Autism

Sensory Integration and Autism Does it Work?

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 5th, 2008

Not all children with autism have sensory problems among their symptoms, but when present they are among the first to become noticeable. Sensory issues can range from being hypersensitive or, at the other end of the scale, having a lack of response to many types of stimulation. However by employing sensory integration and autism therapy these issues can be managed.

The range of sensory integration (SI) issues children with autism face varies dramatically from child to child. Some children are unable to tolerate any loud or unusual noise. Textures of foods and fabrics may be extremely irritating. Something as simple as a clothing label can feel to an autistic child like insects crawling over their skin. For these hypersensitive children anything remotely out of the ordinary, such as a loud family gathering with lots of hugging and kissing, can be too much for senses to manage.

On the other end of the spectrum, some autistic children show practically no response to anything at all. Loud noises are ignored, events or actions that might have an impact on anyone else will pass seemingly unnoticed.

Though it is not always the case, some classic autistic behaviors can be attributed to the sensory issues themselves.

Some children will deal with feelings of over-stimulation by flapping hands, rocking their bodies, and even walking in different ways. Those behaviors may seem odd, however when you consider that their senses are overloaded, those actions make a great deal more sense.

It is somewhat logical if an autistic child is over-stimulated, he or she might alter how they do things in order to try to deal with whatever it is that is proving to be overwhelming. These same actions might also be carried out in order to seek sensations that are desired, but not present.

The main objective of sensory integration and autism therapy is to make their environment tolerable and even pleasant for the child if at all possible. Most sensory integration therapy is incorporated within occupational therapy.

There are many types of activities that are integrated into the therapy to expose the child to sensations of all types; including brushing the skin, motions and movements, music or other auditory stimuli.

The child is exposed over and over again in a controlled environment in the hope that this exposure will help them learn to process the information without becoming startled or overwhelmed. If ST therapy is successful, the child usually becomes calmer and more in control of their actions and other problems, such as tantrums, may also be diminished.

There is debate over how effective SI therapy can be. There are several studies that demonstrate the therapy works well and just as many have illustrated that the therapy has no positive impact and in some case a negative effect.

Some of the controversy with this therapy may lie with unspecialized health care professionals attempting to provide the therapy without enough experience or training. Another point to bear in mind that as each child and each case of autism is different, so the outcome will never be the same for any two children, therefore it is very hard to compare outcomes between two or more children.

When considering sensory integration and autism therapy for your child it is important to speak to a qualified doctor about the potential benefits and setbacks that may occur. Some children with autism simply don’t need this form of therapy, while others will not respond to it at all. It is the individual situation that will dictate the final result.

Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans’ brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find out about symtoms of autism in children and for information on autism group support please visit The Essential Guide To Autism.