I see a lot of young children in my role as a naturopath and when I ask the parents what their biggest concern is when it comes to their kids, most parents have the same answer, sleep problems, anxiety, hyperactivity and behavioural problems.
Addressing these concerns from a holistic approach is important, gaining a clear picture of each child’s lifestyle including sleep habits, diet, nutritional deficiencies, and environmental toxin exposure is key as it paints a very clear picture as to what is happening inside each child. Working with diet and nutritional deficiencies is key to uncovering some of the underlying factors in a child sleep habits and behavioural issues.
Nutrient deficiencies can occur through poor diet and lack of absorption during digestion which occurs when there is poor gut health in the child.
Key nutrient deficiencies to look out for in children with sleep, fatigue, anxiety or behavioural issues:
Low zinc is associated with ADHD, low mood, and impaired immune function
Low levels of B12 in children may cause poor sleep onset, restless legs, and irritability
Low magnesium can cause restlessness and nightmares.
Low Omega 3 levels can use behavioural issues, mood and sleep
Sleep onset problems
Addressing nutrient deficiencies isn’t as simple as using supplements and this can definitely become a costly exercise if gut function is not addressed first as these supplements will not be absorbed properly. Poor gut function can be caused by use of antibiotics, medications such as neurofen and panadol, a diet which is full of processed foods, and sugars and low in key nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and nuts and organic meats.
Steps to help you improve behaviour and sleep issues in children:
1. Get testing done – a simple hair test can help to identify nutrient deficiencies, food intolerances and identify if poor gut function is at the root of the issue.
2. Address diet – remove processed foods and sugars, emulsifiers, and any foods that the child may be intolerant too.
3. Increase nutrients in the diet and include fresh leafy greens, good quality fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, good quality meats and poultry.
4. Begin a gut healing and liver detoxification program to improve nutrient absorption through the gut and reduce toxins in the body. Ensure it includes, glutathione, zinc, glutamine, selenium and Vitamin C.
5. Take a good quality probiotic daily, studies have shown that probiotics can improve gut function, food intolerances, allergies, and skin conditions.
6. Reduce toxin exposure, remove plastics, eat organic where possible.
Parenting can be very stressful, especially when our kids are not feeling great. If you are struggling to identify the underlying issues causing your child’s sleep issues or behavioural issues let me help you take the guess work out of it.