We Have The Answer

Today is one of the days we see on occasion.  We used to see them every day, some days worse than others.  But today we know why how and what to do about it.

My son woke up a little later than usual.  We homeschool and don’t have any activities outside the house today, so it is ok.  He gets the sleep he needs when he needs it.  I knew he was not well when he comes down hugging his 2 blankets tight, his head buried in them.  I only see his dyed red hair draped over the top of them and his thin lanky legs walking slowing down the stairs.

His brother had woken up before him and was watching another exciting anticipated episode of MythBusters.  I had only a hint that he was not well with his appearance.  It was the question that gave it away and changed my course for the day. “Mama, are you ok?”  His need for reassurance is a tell tale sign that he cannot be challenged today.

It has been years of always walking unsteady around this child.  He was a joyful baby and giggle toddler.  Around the age of three he started to slip into episodes of high energy.  It was not unusual to find us running after him at 10pm at night, he’d be giggling we’d be furious.

Today we would take it easy for him and on him.  Today he would be encouraged to sit and read, take rests on the couch and stay in his PJ’s as he pleased.  No fever, no tummy ache, no cough or sore throat was to be seen.  But he is still unwell.

At some point in Kindergarten he became angry, depressed and inconsolable about his mood.  He went through nights where locking himself outside in the snow without shoes was his answer to a tough day.  The school pressure and the lack of compassion put him in a deep depression about himself and his abilities.  He’d try to put on a smile and get along, but no matter how hard he tried there was failure waiting for him at school.

I write this blog and website because I’ve gone to the conferences, read the books, consulted with many different therapists and tried different therapies.  He has even participated in research studies and we were given useful information from that to help steer us to the next test or therapy.  All gave us great insight on the theory of Sensory Processing Disorder, none give us the answers.

Yesterday, however, was a good day.  We had a happy willing child in our home.  He played well with his brother to our delight.  Nothing gave us the prediction of how he would be today, how his brain chemistry would have been changed for today.

We discovered what ails him, what changes his brain and his mood, deteriorates his health and creates chaos for our family.  I know he ate something that contained a neurotoxin.

We found his answer, our answer to find our son again. That loving giggle boy I once knew so long ago.  He is back, even under his cloud today.

Something so simple, yet it is everywhere, in everything- almost.

It is in his food.  It is toxic to him and unknowingly I have been feeding to him since he was a toddler.

We have been to hell and back with our child, and most parents would.  The love and devotion you have for your child can break up marriages, create resentment in siblings and break the spirit of the parents who search for ways to help their child.

We never stop searching.

But now I’ve slowed down.  We are in a holding pattern hoping to land here, to stop the journey that has been ours and start a new one with our new knowledge.

It is food additives; both the ones that are on the labels and those hidden in the labels.

I know this not by expensive testing, not by following the guidance of any health care professional who has taken the time to research it or understand it.  We learned by trying a diet, a change in eating habits.

It took 3 weeks for us, my husband and me, to see a significant change.  It was a night that I noticed our son was asleep 20 minutes after he crawled under the covers.  He had been having great days, humor and laughter finding its way out of him.

3 weeks I saw his eyes smile.

And just as we were celebrating it went wrong with his mood.  Again he started with the anger for no real reasons, the yelling and slamming doors. I listened to him talk to himself and he wished he was not alive.

I admit, I try to force his mood out of him.  I’ve tried kindness and harshness.  I want so much to squeeze out the depression and anger like paste from a tube and watch it wash away in the sink.  But I can’t, not the way I was trying.

I liken these episodes to seizures.  They come on suddenly without much warning if any.  Suddenly he is in a fit of rage.  He has no control over his reaction, his body, his mood nor his understanding of how or why he is in the state of mind.  He can’t be talked out of it.  He is in a heightened state of fear and any attempt to physically control him makes him more fearful.

At school they tried this and he suffered a great deal of emotional trauma from it.  That was the end of public school.

Then he is lucid, tired and consolable.  He flips into a post episodic state without warning too.  He speaks to us in his most mature rational of ways.  He looks for love and care and comfort.

He cannot recall what just happened; he was not in his own mind.

He is tired.

Today, he is tired too.  Today he rests and given Ibuprofen.  This helps block the toxins from his brain from binding to the receptors that open the channels to allow for his sensory neurons to be hyper activated.

He hears better, smells better, tastes better than most.  He runs more and spins more and even travels by cartwheel.  He is more physically flexible than others and smart, very smart.

His sensory neurons have been turned on and at high voltage.  His brain has been getting more chemicals for stimulation than he needs.  All the therapy and theory out there has not helped where we needed.  We needed help at the dinner plate.

What is this toxin I’ve been feeding my child?  Have you been feeding your child it too?  Have you been unknowingly damaging your child’s brain as well?

I looked over the food my child ate after 3 weeks and with the help of a friend, discovered it was Malted Barley that was the culprit. It is one of many items we need to avoid him eating.

It is Free Glutamic Acid- FGA that is the problem, the chaos master in our house.  It is toxic for him.

I removed this bread from his daily diet and returned to one I had been using for the first 3 weeks, a sprouted grain without yeast extract, or natural flavorings.  No Malted Barley or vegetable oils. The wheat is unaltered side from sprouting, drying and grinding.  We buy it cold and freeze it.  It is not cheap, but the payoff is worth it.

Two more weeks passed then his brain was in a toxic state again.  This time he had eaten a protein bar.  I had not ok’d this for him yet not told him not to either.  He put the pieces together himself this time.  He now saw for himself that food can and will change his brain and alter his perception, mood and coping ability.  It is hard to watch him deal with it and it takes a few days for the FGA to decrease in his brain and leave his system.  For those days he is vulnerable to his hyper stimulated state.  Sounds bother him more.  Smells bother him more, or he smells more than normal.

He loves food, tasting new foods.  This is a wonderful benefit to what otherwise is a very undesirable situation.

Food additives, the FGA, are put into food to heighten flavor and taste.  Some, like Citric Acid, help preserve foods.  It depends on where it comes from.  When the corn is altered to extract the Citric Acid the Glutamate becomes free=FGA.

These FGA, that help food taste better, think of all the soups you eat.  They are absorbed into your body very easily.  They are also free to cross the blood brain barrier, the one the helps regulate chemicals entering into your brain.  Depression medications are specially formulated to be able to cross this barrier, if they can’t they are not of any use!  Other medications are designed to not cross this barrier and protect our brain.

These free roaming amino acids accumulate at high levels.  The bind where ever there is a receptor, allow for Calcium to enter and switch on those sensory neurons.

We need Glutamate.  We need it to feel and hear and taste and smell, and to put all that together and process this information.  We need just the right amount; it can be regulated by our bodies.  With FGA it is more like trying to save yourself from a sinking boat, too much available, not enough energy to pump it out.

We get it in all the foods we eat.  It is bound (hooked up) with the protein of the foods we eat, or in very small quantities free.  Our body knows when it needs to ingest more from our meals.  Our body is a system, not separate components.  Our livers work to separate the Glutamate from the protein, and this takes energy to do.  Putting more energy into something you don’t need works at the molecular level of our bodies; it is smarter than we know.

But we can’t eat just what we ‘should’ we eat what we want.  Chips and breads, snacks and dessert, all delicious.  Eating is social and commercial and, for some, dangerous.

It is hidden in labels:

Autolyzed yeast
Calcium caseinate
Dry milk powder
Dry milk protein
Glutamic acid
Hydrolyzed corn gluten
Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Monopotassium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate
Natrium glutamate
Sodium caseinate
Textured protein
Yeast food
Yeast nutrient
Barley malt
Citric acid
Corn Starch
Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Malt extract
Malted Barley
Malt flavoring
Natural chicken flavoring
Natural beef flavoring
Natural flavors/flavor
Natural pork flavoring
Protein fortified food
Soy protein isolate
Soy protein or soy protein concentrate
Soy sauce
Whey protein
Whey protein concentrate
Whey protein isolate

For us, to avoid this is to detox our son’s brain.  After a month of clearing his brain from FGA these are the benefits we saw in our son:

Falling asleep within 15-20 minutes of going to bed every night
Ability to stay on task even if it is a challenge
Ability to finish tasks!
Good Attitude about nearly everything!
Ability to self start, even difficult tasks
Ability to know where personal items are
Ability to handle criticism
Increased spatial awareness
Increased spatial memory (puzzles, math, spelling)
Emotional awareness of self and others
Ability to recognize emotions and talk about them
If anxiety was a 8 before diet changes it is now at a 2 or less!
No more episodes of anger or lashing out, no ‘flip’ outs where he was unable to think or act logically
Can take humor and teasing, can dish it out too!
Waking up with a good outlook
No more ‘sleep hangover’, not tired after a full nights’ sleep
Has good color in face, no more dark circles under his eyes
Hungry all the time, but satisfied with meals
Organized, clean room, hygiene improved
Laughs most of the day
Eyes smile when he smiles
Health improved, less asthmatic episodes, decreased use in inhaler and nebulizer.


I’ve e-mailed this list to his Occupational Therapist.  No real response.

I’ve e-mailed this list to Lucy Jane Miller of the SPD Foundation, no response.

Now you have this list,

What is your response?


Comments (4)

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  1. Leann says:

    I have just discovered your site. I have to say, I could have written this article myself. My son was diagnosed at he age of 4 (last year) with SPD and social anxiety. We thought we ate well (food and nutrition is my background) but it wasn’t until we ate “real” that we noticed something; we learned something. Now we are learning so much about the food system! Making contact with Dr. Katie Reid from Unblindmymind was one of the best things we ever did (and most difficult) Now if the people (extended family) would just wise up! Thank you so much for sharing this info!! Getting the word out there. Really… it’s in the food (the non-real-foods). My child may struggle with SPD, but he is light years ahead of most when it comes to food literacy. He knows… “That pretend food makes my brain feel crazy.”

  2. Bec Miller says:

    Very informative and eye opening!!
    Now I wonder if my son DOES have ADD & ODD and needs medication, OR if this is what it is.

    Thank you for putting this out there.
    I’d rather try other things than just medication for his anger and concentration.

  3. Gabi says:

    I love reading this blog. It answers so many questions I have about my fiance – who suffers a lot from very similar symptoms. We’ve been gravitating towards a diet with less processed foods, more focused on a low-carb, fresh cooked, organic diet and his overall mood has been better. Thanks for the confirmation of this and keep up the good work! :)

  4. Lisa S says:

    Good summary! One comment I’ll add is that it may not just be a matter of quantity. The jury is still out, but one of the most dedicated researchers on this subject, Jack Samuels, believed that high heat or acid processing creates a stereoisomer of the FGA that is created in our bodies through digestion, and that it could be that stereoisomer that is the culprit. That theory would explain why we don’t react to bound proteins, but even tiny amounts of freed glutamate.

    One other note — obvious to us but not to readers — all of the main artificial sweeteners act the same way as MSG and bind to the same receptors. So watch out for those too. You may want to add aspartame, acesulfame K (sp?) and sucralose to your list.


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