At our recent homeschool convention in Phoenix there was a speaker named Dianne Craft who has extensively worked with struggling learners and gave so much information to those of us who attended her class. You can read what I learned from her classes in Part I… “Do You Have a Struggling Learner”, Part II… Teaching the Right Brain Child and Part III… Additional Thoughts on Teaching the Right Brain Child.
I went to Dinanne’s class called The Biology of Learning and Behavior not realizing just how much information I would glean. The name wasn’t too intriguing but I had received so much information from her in the previous classes that I knew it would be worth my while. And it was.
We learned that many times if a child’s “gut” is upset they may suffer from the following:
food allergies (especially diary)
enuresis (bed wetting)
difficulty falling asleep
repeated ear infections
thrush, athlete’s foot, etc.
Some behavioral characteristics are:
inconsistent performance (knows it one day, then forgets it)
memory problems (math facts, spelling)
inappropriate behavior (talking loudly, etc.)
depression (more negative than positive)
How does the gut become imbalanced? Inside our intestines we have yeast and bacteria. However, when we are given antibiotics or eat mainly carbohydrates and sweets we have a yeast overgrowth. The yeast starts to kill the good bacteria and then manifests itself in some of the ways listed above.
Dianne used the example of a small boy who was in kindergarten. He went home for Christmas break but when he came back after the holidays, he was pushing the kids and generally being a bully. Since the boy had been fine before the holidays, Dianne knew something else was at play. She found out that this child had had an ear infection while out of school and had been on antibiotics. His gut needed to be brought back into balance.
Yeast feeds on sugar. Have you ever proofed your yeast when making bread? If you haven’t, it’s a very interesting experiment you could do with your kids while you explain what I’m getting ready to tell you. In my experiments I used, brown sugar, honey, pure maple syrup and rapadura sugar (which is unprocessed). Every one of these “sugars” produced a foaming action with the yeast.
Dianne explained that the same thing happens in your body with the yeast. When you eat something with sugar, it feeds the yeast. Good bacteria is killed and the bad bacteria grows.
Not only does antibiotics cause a problem in the gut but it also causes a decreased amount of Serotonin to be produced. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the mind, instills a sense of well-being, helps handle stress, keeps mind focused, promotes good sleep, and helps your perceptions of life to be more positive than negative.
After hearing her talk I realized our own family has some of the symptoms she mentioned. I have had a skin condition that starts as little bumps and show up on my hands. It usually starts with one finger. It’s very itchy and starts to spread in patches on my hand (nowhere else, just my hand). I usually scratch until I’m bleeding.
My daughter has been showing similar symptoms but on her stomach and a bit on her arms. She informed me, after hearing me talk about what I had heard, that these bumps had only showed up after she had been given an antibiotic to kill infection in a tooth that she was getting a root canal on.
What to do about this? Dianne gives the following recommendations.
Some Solutions to Rebalance “Gut” Ecology
Acidophilus (the good bacteria in the gut), given 3 times a day (always use a refrigerated brand – like Primadophilus by Nature’s Way)….. not chewable or liquid. Taking acidophilus one time a day won’t yield much change. Continue for 3 months.
Grapefruitseed Extract Nutri-Biotics) tablets 3 times a day (if over age 6). Give the acidophilus and grapefruitseed extract together, after the first week. Continue for 3 months. Increase water intake. Do not use the liquid or capsule form.
Reduce sugar and carbohydrates by increasing fruit, vegetables and protein. Change snacks and breakfast food. Boxed cereals, pancakes (even whole wheat) aren’t helpful.
A good book is Superimmunity for Kids by Leo Galland, M.D.
If your child has had multiple ear infections (more than 3), do a dairy free trial. For 6 weeks, replace dairy products. Dairy allergy is the most common reason for repeated ear infections. In her books, No More Ritalin and No More Amoxicillin, Dr. Mary Ann Block gives more info. Dairy allergy can cause a real focusing issue.
*Always check with your health professional before starting any vitamin or exercise program
You can also read this article by Dianne about The Biology of Learning and Behavior.
If you need clarification on anything I’ve written, please leave a comment.
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