By Terri Arranga
When couples find out that they are going to be parents, making sure they’re healthy becomes even more important. The health of the parents can affect the health of their offspring-to be – - and that’s a fact.
In a conversation with Dr. Roy Dittmann, author of Brighton Baby: A Revolutionary Organic Approach to Having an Extraordinary Child — The Complete Guide to Preconception and Conception, he told us, “The parenting journey begins BEFORE conception. Good nutritional status is necessary to detoxify the body, flush out wastes, encourage healthy bacteria, foster good neurotransmitter communication and cell-to-cell signaling. All of these things are necessary for optimal fetal development and good parental energy and mood. Nutrients that you should not be without during these periods include vitamin D-3, iron, probiotics, calcium, magnesium, iodine, other trace minerals, and more.”
Parenting is full of joys but also full of challenges. For families that already have one or more special needs child, those challenges may be more rigorous with the medical, educational, and financial obstacles they must face.
A study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders reported that moms of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffered stress akin to that endured by combat soldiers, who commonly fall prey to post-traumatic stress disorder. There is also no doubt that the economic struggles faced by many special needs families can cause Mom and Dad to put themselves last in line for nutritional supplements and taking the time to enjoy calm, healthful meals. When combined with considering the additional nutrients needed under high-stress conditions, a doubly wide gulf is created, leaving a chasm into which Mother and Father can fall.
According to the study entitled “Maternal Cortisol Levels and Behavior Problems in Adolescents and Adults with ASD,” “mothers experience both acute and chronic stress associated with the behavior problems of their adolescent or adult children and that the degree of their cortisol dysregulation is linked with their child’s behavioral profile.”1
This is the physiological residue of daily stress,’ Marsha Mailick Seltzer, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who authored the studies, explained. According to Seltzer, the mothers of children with high levels of behavior problems have the most pronounced physiological profile of chronic stress, but the long-term effect on their physical health is not yet known. The effects of abnormal hormone levels that have been associated with chronic stress may affect glucose regulation, immune functioning and mental activity, researchers say.2
And what happens to Dad? Dads like to be fix-it men and problem-solvers. How frustrated must Dad feel when trying to unravel the intricacies of a special needs diagnosis? And while Mom is running around to the extra therapies and chores inherent in life with special needs, where does that leave her energy level for giving TLC to Dad?
In a special needs family, Mom and Dad need to remain especially healthy and connected for their marriage and their children.
Probiotics Can Help
Probiotic supplements are gaining attention as an alternative treatment in decreasing depression. An April 2015, Huffington Post article said, “an increasingly robust body of evidence suggests that gut bacteria may exert a significant effect on brain function and mental health.” The article added that “a growing number of scientists have become interested in probiotics and prebiotics as potential treatments for anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
And in a new study conducted at Leiden University, researchers found additional support for probiotics to treat mental conditions. They report that among 40 healthy subjects, those who underwent four weeks of probiotic treatment showed a decrease in negative thoughts and feelings and that participants who took the probiotics were significantly less reactive to sad moods. Improving the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut seemed to also have a protective effect against rumination, the type of obsessive negative thinking that often predicts depression.”3
Leiden Institute scientist Lorenza Colzato stated, “Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood. As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”4
The scientific paper concluded: “These results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with a sad mood.”5
A 2013 study from UCLA titled “Consumption of Fermented Milk Product with Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity,” which was published in the journal Gastroenterology, reported that, “Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what has been suspected but until now had been proved only in animal studies: that signals travel the opposite way as well.” It continued: “’Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,’” [lead author Dr. Kirsten] Tillisch said. ‘Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.’”6, 7
Vitamin D-3 is Essential
Another crucial dietary component is vitamin D-3. The article “Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression in Young Women” in Psychiatric Advisor reported on a study published in Psychiatry Research and said this: “Oregon State University (OSU) researchers found that young women with lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to have clinically significant depressive symptoms over the course of a five-week study…. The results were consistent even when other possible explanations, such as time of year, exercise, and time spent outside were considered, [said] lead author David Kerr, PhD.”8 The May 2015 Psychiatry Research article concluded, “Findings are consistent with a temporal association between low levels of vitamin D and clinically meaningful depressive symptoms.”9
A 2010 paper by Penckofer, et al. reported on the work of many researchers and said that “It has been estimated that over one billion people have either vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency … vitamin D deficiency may play a role in depression and possibly other mental disorders…. Another recent report summarized studies on vitamin D and mood disorders in women, suggesting that vitamin D may be an important nutrient for women’s physical and mental well-being.” The 2010 paper continued, “For many persons, sunshine or diet alone will not be sufficient in providing adequate amounts of vitamin D. There is evidence to suggest that supplementation may be necessary.” The conclusion informed readers: “If exercising outdoors in the sunshine, eating foods rich in vitamin D, and/or taking dietary supplements to improve vitamin D deficiency could improve one’s mental well-being, it would be a simple and cost-effective solution for many who are at risk for depression and possibly other mental disorders.”10
Calcium, of Course!
Calcium is the major constituent of bones and teeth. More than 98% of the body’s calcium is found in those structures. In the rest of the body, calcium supports heart function, circulation, nerve function and muscle tone. If insufficient calcium results from poor dietary intake, the body can take calcium from the bones to make up for the shortage.
Low peak bone mass can be a contributing factor to the development of a potentially crippling disease of weak, thin, fragile bones called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes bones weak and brittle — even to the point that a fall or mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture, which most commonly occurs in the hip, wrist, or spine.
Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. In order to prevent osteoporosis, the creation of new bone must keep up with the removal of old bone. Building and maintaining good bone health through adequate calcium intake throughout life is linked to a reduced risk of osteoporosis by optimizing bone mass. It is important to note that women are more prone to osteoporosis than men. Alarmingly, one in every two women over the age of 50 years will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Therefore, ensuring adequate calcium intake is essential.
Zinc for Dad!
In his book, Dr. Dittmann points out that cadmium, such as is found in tobacco smoke, tires, and the dust on the outside of cars, displaces zinc in the body. Since cadmium competes with and displaces zinc in the body, and since zinc deficiencies are directly linked to infertility, dads and dads-to-be would be wise to supplement with zinc. However, Dr. Dittmann continues by informing us that “some men have too much zinc relative to copper, which means that zinc supplementation can throw off your copper-to-zinc ratio. In this instance, taking extra zinc can actually make [the] prostate worse. On the other hand, if you have more copper relative to zinc, zinc supplementation is a definite must for sperm health.” Your physician will offer you the best guidance on which form you would benefit from supplementing in this case.
Making a Kirkman® basket for Mom or Dad!
From tip to toe, Kirkman® offers moms, dads, moms-to-be, dads-to-be, and grandmas and grandpas ways to be healthy for this generation and the next! Begin the journey in confidence with Ultra Tested® products from the Before BabyTM line by Kirkman®. Before BabyTM options include Before BabyTM Natural Cleanse, which is a special blend of natural ingredients specially formulated for parents and parents-to-be that helps detoxify and cleanse the system; Before BabyTM Women’s Vitamin & Mineral Formulation, which is a complete vitamin and mineral blend especially for mothers and mothers-to-be; Before BabyTM hypoallergenic Probiotic 7-Strain; and more. There are many multistrain probiotic options from Kirkman®, including the hypoallergenic Pro-Bio Gold™ with Vitamin D-3. In addition to the individual supplement items of vitamin D-3 and calcium, Kirkman® offers Bone Health, which provides vitamin D-3, calcium, and additional nutrients! And Kirkman’s 60 to 90 product line has supplements to support the bones, heart, eyes, memory, and immune system. So, make this Father’s Day memorable with the happiness that comes from good health – with the help of Kirkman®!
1 Seltzer, M. M., Greenberg, J. S., Hong, J., Smith, L. E., Almeida, D. M., Coe, C., & Stawski, R. S. Maternal Cortisol Levels and Behavior Problems in Adolescents and Adults with ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2010;40(4), 457–469. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0887-0.
2 Diament, M. (2009). Autism Moms Have Stress Similar to Combat Soldiers. Disability Scoop. http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/11/10/autism-moms-stress/6121/. Last accessed May 1, 2015.
3 Gregoire, C. (2015). Probiotics May One Day Be Used to Treat Depression. Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/17/probiotics-depression_n_7064030.html. Last accessed May 1, 2015.
4 Alpha Galileo. (April 14, 2015). http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=151650&CultureCode=en. Last accessed May 2, 2015.
5 Steenbergen L., Sellaro R., van Hemert S., Bosch J.A., & Colzato L.S. (2015). A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2015.04.003.
6 Champeau, R. (2013). Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows. UCLA Newsroom. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/changing-gut-bacteria-through-245617. Last accessed May 1, 2015.
7 Tillisch K., Labus J., Kilpatrick L., Jiang Z., Stains J., Ebrat B., Guyonnet D., Legrain–Raspaud S., Trotin B., Naliboff B., & Mayer E. A. “Consumption of Fermented Milk Product With Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity.” Gastroenterology. 2013;144:1394–1401.
8 Psychiatry Advisor. (March 23, 2015). http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-depression-in-young-women/article/404568/. Last accessed May 2, 2015.
9 Kerr D., Zava D., Piper W., Saturn S., Frei B., & Gombart A. Associations between vitamin D levels and depressive symptoms in healthy young adult women. Psychiatry Research. 2015;227(1):46-51.
http://www.psy-journal.com/article/S0165-1781(15)00108-0/abstract?cc=y=. Last accessed May 2, 2015.
10 Penckofer S., Kouba J., Byrn M., & Ferrans C. E. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 2010;31(6), 385–393. doi:10.3109/01612840903437657.