Nutrition and Learning Disabilites-Is There a Connection?

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Nutrition and Learning Disabilites-Is There a Connection?


By Lauren Turk, MS, CCC-SLP

Allergies, Asthma, ADHD, and Learning Disabilities-These are labels we hear all the time  and it seems the number of people afflicted is constantly on the rise. Environmental factors are likely a large contributor to these issues. Surprisingly, one environmental contributor may be food.  If you think about the meals we feed our children, many of them are processed, loaded with chemicals and even genetically modified (GMOs). It’s not just our children that are affected, but our health is at stake too. We are told our food sources are safe, but if you look around at the illnesses that plague our society, are you so sure?  There is a rise in type 2 diabetes, juvenile diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Parkinson’s, among many others.  As we take in these harmful chemicals our bodies are overwhelmed with how to process them and it impacts the way we think, behave, process information and the way we learn.  What does that mean for some of our children who are struggling with learning disabilities?  Some studies suggest that diet changes can dramatically improve the symptoms that go along with learning disabilities and some health conditions. 

One main trigger is gluten.  Gluten has been a hot topic, but clearly many remain skeptical of its inflammatory nature.  For many who have changed their eating habits drastically, the results are reportedly extraordinary.  Gluten intolerance and sensitivity can rear its ugly head in many forms.  Some suggest ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders symptoms improve when dietary changes are made.  Neurological effects are also extremely common.  Personally, I suffered from migraines for decades.  I met with over a dozen doctors and they could never determine the cause.  Treatment that was offered included migraine perscription medication, antidepressants, beta blockers and botox injections. Never once did anyone mention anything about changing my diet.  Within a week of cutting out gluten, the symptoms were simply gone! Another culprit is dairy, the casein protein in dairy and the hormones the cows are injected with along with the antibiotics are known to be harmful.  The bottom line is, gluten and dairy are inflammatory which can cause an immune response and that inflammation can express itself through learning disabilities, allergies, etc… 

I have thought long and hard about writing this and I know that this is controversial for many.  So even if you don’t agree, keep an open mind and read the links at the bottom of this article.  Maybe cut out some of the bad stuff and be your own judge and see if there are any improvements.  Although, for the benefits of a gluten free and dairy free diet, you really need to be diligent to see the effects.  Going gluten free but having cheat days isn’t consistent enough. 

This information should not be substituted for the advice from your family practitioner or certified nutritionist.





Informational Links






06 February 2014 20:05
by Lauren Turk, MS, CCC-SLP