In 14 years, 1 in 4 children (25%) will have autism (graph below).
When I came across this graph recently, probably like you – I was alarmed… I’ve shown it to friends and family and the reaction of concern and disbelief has been the same.
The statistic is for rates in the USA, however rates in Australia aren’t slowing down.
Our children are our future. Why aren’t these statistics more commonly shared?
I’ve worked for a number of years in the area of autism in a Board role. I understand the gifts these children bring into the world. At the same time they require care that other children do not. Autism not only impacts the child or person it impacts the whole family unit, especially primary carers.
The graph not only shows Autism escalating at an alarming rate, it shows;
It also means;
The impact on society at large will be devastating. As mentioned above, children and adults with neurological conditions such as autism often need more care and assistance, (they’re commonly dealing with other disabilities too). The impact on families is emotionally, financially and physically draining.
However it’s not just autism – ADHD & other neurological conditions are all on the rise.
‘Today, there are some 21 million children (almost 10% globally) who have been diagnosed with severe attention, behavioural, or learning problems… ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar, or other frightening conditions that confirm something is not right in the brain’ ~ Dr Robert Melillo, author of Disconnected Kids.
A 2019 report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows in Australia the percentage of children with 1 or more chronic conditions;
Why are our kids no longer naturally strong, vital & healthy as nature intended?
Some might say, it’s always been this way and now there’s better diagnosis or understanding of symptoms.
I don’t think so.
How many children did you know with neurological or chronic conditions when you were a child? Were there any? Fast forward to today and it’s likely you have a family member or a close friends’ child dealing with one or more of them.
It’s a story that’s close to my heart, as we too have done a lot of work with neurological conditions in our family. When I was told by experts and specialists ‘there was nothing we could do’, I trusted my intuition that there was something we could do and there was! We found answers. It’s taken a number of years with minimum intervention. If you know that feeling – trust it.
Neuroplasticity gives hope for these neurological conditions.
For those who may not know this term, it’s the brains ability to change continuously through life…
In my personal experience & research neuroplasticity works, along with good food, detox, movement, sleep and other lifestyle ‘interventions’ can do a vast amount to nourish, detoxify, rewire and protect our childrens’ developing brains.
I understand autism is far more complicated and extremely challenging – I worked for a number of years with Autism West here in Perth. However there are many great stories of improvements and recovery being made e.g. Kirsty Wirth, founder at Kultured Wellness is an amazing example – read her story here and the Mindd Foundation shares recovery stories here
There are many wonderful functional doctors and practitioners doing amazing work in WA and across the world. These are a few I’m most familiar with in Western Australia;
Why is there an epidemic?
We don’t know why specifically, yet when I consider what’s changed in the past 100 years in the way we live there are some dramatic changes that all impact neurology (brain function).
Children’s’ developing brains are particularly susceptible to their environment, especially toxins. Toxins store in fatty tissue e.g. the brain, which is 60-70% fatty tissue. Any assaults that aren’t biologically compatible can impair brain development.
In our personal experience and as the stories of recovery show, it can take time, but the body returns to homeostasis (balance) and can thrive with the right tools and fuels unique for each individual person.
The younger children are when they get the support they need, the ‘simpler’ the recovery can be.
To be honest I’ve questioned if any type of intervention is necessary, for our family and for these kids? Is it their own path to learn from and offer their uniqueness to the world.
Often these children are gifted in other areas and do have so much to give – just as they are e.g. Greta Thunberg, the climate activist who has Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism. Which in her words, ‘means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”
I think the answer is, if our kids are happy and are going to be happy, and as their parents, we are happy then THAT is what matters.
This aside, our children today are a long way from their evolutionary blueprint, and returning them to their most natural biological state has profound affects. There is much we can do as parents and carers to protect and nourish our childrens minds, brains and bodies, it starts at pre-conception, and as we now know, can be enhanced at any age.
Until we see these figures diminishing and we know we are on the right track, if you intuitively feel there’s something ‘not quite right’, I encourage you to act now e.g. to begin;
These illnesses and conditions are already common-place in children, but not common knowledge. Are we becoming complacent in accepting a new level of ‘normal’ for our children’s health that is not normal?
Here are my tried and tested, quick tips for maximising fun and minimising monster meltdowns at Halloween;
2. Tricks. Help the kids with ideas for ‘tricks’, not just treats.
3. Trade. Before the big night begins, depending on the childrens’ age, chat about the affects of sugar & the additives & about ‘trading’ for something they love e.g. a sleepover, play date, out for dinner or a visit to the toy shop etc. (more expensive alternatives, but… better than a monster meltdown or worse, an immune system meltdown & days off school with sickness)!
4. Fill them up e.g. a big dinner before they go out & hopefully they won’t eat so many lollies?! Infact make dinner afternoon tea.
5. Water. After school and through the day fill them up with filtered water. It’ll fill them up & help their bodies process the sugar.
6. Investigate. For the older kids investigate (read) the ingredients / numbers. Download the ‘Chemical Maze’ app. Search the number(s) listed & then together read the symptoms & the effects specific chemicals have on their body – it works but it can be scary, so investigate yourself first, and before doing it with them – our kids are 12 & 14.
7. Enjoy the festivities. And the fantastic opportunity it creates to be outside, move their bodies, bring community and neighbours together. It’s a reason I enjoy Halloween, because it brings our street and neighbourhood together & the kids love it! #loveourstreet #loveourneighbours
And if the kids do go crazy you can support their immunity for a few days afterwards e.g.;
🍋 a vitamin c and zinc supplement.
🍋 early nights.
🍋 lots of nourishing, healing, real, whole foods. Eliminating sugary, processed and refined foods.
🍋 Add in a green smoothie or two.
🍋 essential oils if you use them.
And hopefully they won’t get sick, but if they do or if their behaviour is ‘off’, give them a loving reminder WHY.
Most of all have a fun night!
Sunscreen is not the answer to protecting our wellbeing that we’ve been led to believe.
For years we’ve been told we must use sunscreen and cover up to prevent lasting skin damage and cancer.
But have sunscreens been adequately tested for their safety and efficiency?
It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while (actually years) and perhaps for you too.
This week I heard Dr Elizabeth Plourde, a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist share science that tells a compelling story with a different perspective. She’s researched the topic for many years and is the author of, ‘Sunscreens – biohazard – treat as hazardous waste’.
If sunscreens are potential ‘biohazards’ I’d like to know, and thought you might to.
In this post I share Dr Plourdes’ research and that of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the USA, along with proactive ways to protect our skin and elevate our well-being.
It’s my personal insight and experience and is not be considered medical advice.
Generally, it seems what we’re doing isn’t helping.
And then consider;
– Vitamin D is a hormone rather than a nutrient and is vital for strong immunity, healthy bones, anti-inflammatory, heart health, mood, weight management and much more.
– The majority of people across the world are vitamin D deficient.
With the above in mind, the sun is incredibly therapeutic, and quite possibly the ultimate in natures medicine. It is our friend and not to be feared or considered our foe.
Why sunscreens are harmful.
1. Concerning ingredients.
Hawaii has banned all sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate due to the toxicity and devastating affect on the coral reef. A few sunscreens now promote themselves as being ‘reef friendly’.
Zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the USA proposes there are 12 other active ingredients commonly found in sunscreens, including oxybenzone, that need additional data from safety and efficacy testing. These ingredients are used in more than 50 percent of the 1,300 + sunscreens EWG has assessed for their 2019 sunscreen guide.
2. Inferior protection.
When we first get in the sun, antioxidants protect the skin naturally, which is why we don’t burn immediately. When these antioxidants diminish we no longer have the protection and that’s when the skin starts to turn red, burn and we need to retreat to the shade. It’s our bodies inbuilt warning, signalling us to take protection.
When sunscreen is used it only blocks the 4% that is UV (ultra violet) B, that’s responsible for burning the skin. When these rays are blocked we are able to stay in the sun longer than we naturally would. When we stay out longer, that’s when the 47% of sun that is infrared i.e. UV A, can penetrate deeper into the skin and into the mitochondria (the energy powerhouses of cells) and cause cellular damage.
So in staying in the sun longer we don’t burn, but our bodies are exposed to potentially more damaging UV light, causing long-term cellular damage. Some sunscreens now block the UV A as well. But this may not be the complete answer…
Dr Plourde says tanning is an important mechanism. It’s the bodies’ way of protecting our cells from damage long term. It creates melanin, which naturally protects the skin and cells from being oxidized (oxidation is when molecules are ‘lost’ and lose energy, creating free radicals which then contribute to cellular damage). Meaning, we ideally need to tan and without burning.
If you have fair skin, you might be thinking, ‘No way’, I just burn.
That was me too. I have fair skin and as a kid I burnt to a crisp and never really ‘tanned’! However, a few years ago I began to notice I tanned more easily and didn’t burn so easily! In fact people comment on my ‘tanned’ face. It’s taken time, but I sense my change in diet to a more whole foods diet and ‘cleaning up’ my home environment, and exposing my skin to the sun safely has helped improve my skins ability to metabolise melanin. I don’t know for sure and it’s hard to prove but it fits in with some of the research.
It’s important not to burn, and I’m not advocating that. However, if any of what I’m sharing resonates for you, trust your intuition.
If you’ve been doing the ‘right thing’, using sunscreen for many years, with the good intentions of protecting your skin, and slowing the aging process plus you’re doing great things with food and lifestyle, … but… you just can’t shift ‘stubborn weight’, or your hormones are imbalanced or blood sugars irregular or metabolism or have skin issues that won’t clear then perhaps there are ‘invisible’ endocrine (hormone) disruptors at play via sunscreen, beauty or personal hygiene products? Either way it’s worthwhile exploring.
Being sun smart.
Stay out of the sun during peak times of UV and infrared rays e.g. when it’s directly overhead.
Enjoy the sun in the early or later hours of the day. Monitor your skin to make sure it is not uncomfortable or turning red in the sun.
If you need to stay in the sun for long periods of time, use tight-weave clothing (hats, long-sleeve shirts, pants, etc.) to cover up when your skin has had enough sun.
2. Eat a bright rainbow.
A diet including more whole foods and foods that are rich in colour and antioxidants and give the body the protection it needs and access to the best source of vitamin D, the sun.
Antioxidant rich foods include;
3. As shared above, avoid toxic ingredients on your skin (and ingested into your body).
4. Use a more natural sunscreen avoiding the chemicals and nano particles listed e.g. wotnot or soleo brands in Australia.
Anything we put on our skin has direct entry into the body and blood stream for circulation. It’s worthwhile auditing the products you’re using on your skin and your children’s skin, especially if it’s on a daily basis.
Every day we expose our bodies to a level of toxicity from our food and environment. If we aren’t consciously managing toxins, eventually they accumulate and will manifest dis-ease. Yet most of these exposures are easily managed. When we’re aware we can care.
Our skin needs exposure to the sunshine and for most of us it’s not getting enough. With Summer on the way it’s timely to check vitamin D levels and consider how much time your or your children’s’ skin sees the sun daily?
It’s recommended we use sunscreen everyday, even through winter. How can our skin ever do the job it’s so cleverly designed for, if it doesn’t see the sun?
When we cover our skin we prevent the metabolism of Vitamin D which in itself has been shown to be anti carcinogenic.
While sunscreens have a part to play in our sun protection, it’s likely there is more we can do to protect our skin from the inside out while honouring the vital and most natural relationship we have with the sun itself.
This is not medical advice it is my own personal insight based on my personal experience and science based research.
For more information on how to elevate your wellbeing, reduce toxins in your daily life and nourish your family with natures’ medicine, contact me, I’d love to hear from you.
EWG 2019 Guide to Sunscreens https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/
Spring is my most favourite time of year yet… for 1 in 5 of us, this beautiful season is the absolute worst time of year.
Spring is when the pollen count goes up, which means for those 1 in 5 Aussies… a diminishing quality in life i.e. hay fever! Associated with non-stop runny noses, congestion, itchy, red eyes, constant sneezing, irritation in the ears, ear infections, sleepless nights, low energy and more…
It can feel unrelenting and what works for some, doesn’t always work for others, and symptoms can seem to suddenly develop later in life.
Each year, particularly in Australia, rates are incrementally increasing.
About 3.1 million Australians or 15% of the population had hay fever as a condition in 2007-08.
10 years later in 2017 – 18, nearly 1 in 5 Australians i.e. more than 4.6 million people or 20% suffer from hay fever. AIHW (Australian Institute of Heath and Welfare).
While Australia has one of the highest rates, in the UK experts report that by 2030 almost half the population i.e. an alarming rate of more than 30 million Brits will suffer from hay fever!
A good buddy got me thinking about this. She’s noticed that sometimes people respond to a treatment & then not the next time. Why? And why the escalation in rates? It got me thinking…
Some hay fever sufferers have NO family history or are developing it later in life. This, along with the escalation in rates seems to indicate the trigger is environmental rather than genetic.
To uncover what’s going on we need to look closer at the link between allergies and immunity.
Allergies and Immunity.
Allergic reactions begin in the immune system.
Take for example, a usually harmless substance such as dust, animal fur, fungal spores, mold, or pollen being exposed to a person with an allergy. This persons’ immune system over reacts and produces antibodies that “attack” the allergen (substance). This ‘attack’ triggers the symptoms.
Note, allergies are a different immune response to an autoimmune response. An autoimmune condition is when the immune system starts attacking the body’s own tissues, rather than an ‘over-reacting’ response.
Given 80 % of immunity lies in the gut, the state of the digestive system (gut) & the microbiome (bacterial population) must have a BIG part to play in the development of an allergy.
What creates the ‘state’ of the digestive system?
The state of the digestive system is primarily influenced by WHAT is consumed or what it is exposed to.
WHAT heals v WHAT harms?
The digestive and immune systems are incredibly complex, however very simply, it follows that consuming foods that agree with your biology or chemistry and exposing the gut to biologically recognisable substances, means the digestive system and therefore immune systems will function better and thereby lessen the chance of developing allergies.
What to do?
If you suffer from hay fever or allergies in general and haven’t already considered improving the health of the gut, start there, in particular the health of the microbiome.
And if you’re a hay fever sufferer consider restoring the microbiome of the nasal passages as well, (see below).
Remedies / Treatment
The 3 most common treatments for hay fever include; antihistamines, corticosteroids and decongestants. While they have their place and offer relief, they don’t offer a long-term solution.
In addition if the aim is to maintain the integrity of the microbiome (our bacterial population) and a healthy digestive system i.e. the seat of our immunity, then complementary remedies are worth exploring.
14 complementary remedies
These remedies can be quickly dismissed for their simplicity, but can be equally, if not more effective in their treatment.
Even though there’s not a quick fix, here are some ideas to relieve symptoms immediately and with time;
Let’s revisit the initial questions.
Given the thoughts in this post, perhaps it’s because the variables have changed e.g. this season the body is exposed to different pollens from the previous season OR
the individuals’ microbiome has changed since the previous season (the microbiome can change within days), or the diet has changed and the new foods have altered the digestive and microbial state. Or other changes in the environment.
Given that the health of the digestive system is paramount to a healthy immune system, the escalation in rates must have something to do with WHAT we are exposing our digestive systems to i.e. inferior foods rather than whole foods recognised by the body and unnatural / un-biological (inorganic) substances and toxins that disrupt the state of the micriobiome and digestive system, triggering dis-ease.
This is a personal reflection on how to give more long-term relief to so many people, and enjoy, what should be, a glorious and uplifting time of year. I hope it helps and gives ‘food for thought’.
And naturally, if symptoms persist, see your preferred health practitioner asap.
If you suffer from hay fever, I’d love to hear what’s worked for you?
Then if you’re keen to stop the cycle, let’s have a quick complimentary chat to explore your options.
https://www.aihw.gov.au AIHW (Australian Institute of Heath and Welfare).