How We Are Making Our Children Sick - Dietary Fat Consumption
|How We Are Making Our Children Sick|
|Dietary Fat Consumption|
Dietary Fat Consumption
Chicken nuggets, potato chips, and other fried foods, while convenient for parents, are relegating their children’s immune systems to behave badly. Another factor that has been identified as a contributor to the rise in allergic diseases is the increased consumption of omega-6 fatty acids and the decreased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. It has been known for many years that individuals with allergic conditions have disproportionately high levels of omega- 6 fatty acids in their blood. Omega-6 fatty acids actually suppress the immune system and promote inflammation, and allergic responses are, by their very nature, inflammatory. Sources of omega-6 fatty acids are corn, cotton, soybean, peanut, safflower, and sunflower. Omega-6 fatty acids are also present in most animal products.
Inversely, omega-3 fatty acids are known to enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, and protect the nervous system. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids have well documented immunological effects. Sources are flax, hemp, walnut, and cold water fatty fish, especially salmon. It is important to note though that the plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids are inadequate for infants and thus offer minimal benefit early in life. One study showed that children who regularly consumed oily fish were 74% less likely to develop asthma. Other studies show that fish oil supplementation is associated with improved asthma symptoms and reduced medication usage. The immune benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are likely greater during the critical stages of early immune development before the allergic responses are established, so it is recommended that women monitor their fatty acid intake during pregnancy and continue to do while nursing. Once the child is old enough there are omega-3 products designed specifically for children.
The focus of science has shifted from separate entities of the immune system and nervous system to an interactive immunology model. It is now understood that there is an intimate connection between the nervous system and the immune system, and that neurotransmitters can influence the activities of the immune system. In fact, nerve fibers physically link the nervous system and the immune system and there is a constant traffic of information that goes back and forth between the brain and the immune system.
The sympathetic division of the nervous system is the part of the nervous system that reacts to stress. It is the “fight or flight” control center. The sympathetic division of the nervous system also regulates all aspects of immune function, and abnormal activity of the sympathetic nervous system contributes to the cause of conditions where a selection of humoral versus the cell-mediated response plays a role, including allergic reactions.
Spinal movement influences the sympathetic nervous system. Changes to the relative position or movement in the spine interfere with the sympathetic nervous system causing the release of stress hormones and altering immune cell function. The result is suppression of the cell-mediated immune response, and in its absence an increase of the humoral response.
Early stress and trauma is believed to play a profound role in the development of spinal dysfunction, or subluxation, causing immune imbalance. In his research, Gottfried Guttman M.D., found that spinal injury was present in more than 80% of the infants he examined shortly after birth, causing interference in sympathetic function. Tissue injury to the spine and surrounding soft tissue results in scar tissue deposition in the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. This leads to decreased motion in the joints and surrounding tissues. Neurologic changes accompany the spinal insult. This leads to chemical changes and a general shift in the body to the stress response or the “fight or flight” response. Subluxation in the infant and child has been associated with stress experienced at birth, particularly as the result of interventions, and early falls or other traumas.
Restoring proper function to the spine through chiropractic adjustments removes the interference in the nervous system shifting the body away from the sympathetic “alarm” response allowing the immune system to regain equilibrium and reducing hypersensitive reactions. In one study, 81 children under chiropractic care took part in a self-reported asthma impairment study. The children were assessed before and two months after chiropractic care using an asthma impairment questionnaire. Significantly lower impairment rating scores (improvement) was reported for 90.1% of subjects 60 days after chiropractic care in comparison to their pre-chiropractic scores. In addition, 30.9% of the children decreased their dosage of medication by an average of 66.5% while under chiropractic care. Twenty-four of the patients who reported asthma attacks 30-days prior to the study had significantly decreased attacks by an average of 44.9%.
Our children are born with an immune system that is capable of operating against anything that threatens it. Our role as parents should be to support the natural responses of their body in every way that we can; in some cases, that means giving the body a chance to overcome an infection on its own with out antibiotics. In another case, it means providing the proper nutrients to restore inner balance. Most importantly, it means realizing that when a child’s nervous system has interference, the body still knows what it is supposed to do, but is simply unable to do it. Let’s start by removing the interference from the body and then getting out of its way—appreciating that the fever and congestion and vomiting are all part of the miracle that is our child’s immune system working properly, not a sign that their body is failing. The less we focus on the eradication of germs and the more emphasis we place on creating a strong, balanced body, free of subluxation, the better off our children will be.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #20.
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