Leaky Gut Syndrome May Cause Magnesium Deficiency which Correlates to ADHD in Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a syndrome with many contributing causes including environmental toxins, nutrition deficiencies, food sensitivities, and leaky gut syndrome (see my previous blog for more information about leaky gut syndrome). Throughout the United States, ADHD has become an alarming epidemic. About 10-15% of all school children have the disorder and the rates are doubling every 3 to 4 years. More than 3 million American children diagnosed with ADHD are treated with Ritalin®, a central nervous stimulant with properties similar to cocaine, and the amount of the drug being prescribed has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years with more than 10 tons being produced in recent years (1).

Leaky gut syndrome causes inflammation which can result in the malabsorption of many important nutrients, such as magnesium and zinc. A leaky gut also allows for the passage of environmental toxins into the body through the intestinal wall. Therefore, it is not surprising that a leaky gut plays a role in triggering most chronic diseases and ADHD hyperactivity behaviors. In fact, researchers have found lower than normal levels of magnesium in people with ADHD (2). Low magnesium results in a syndrome of abnormalities including depression, irritability, restless sleep, muscle spasms, memory loss and low physical endurance. In one study, 95% of a group of 116 children with ADHD had below normal magnesium levels. Treatment was administered to 50 children with low blood and hair magnesium with 200 mg magnesium daily for 6 months. Compared to a control group given ‘standard therapy’ without magnesium, the supplemented children showed a significant decrease in hyperactivity (3).

Magnesium is one of the necessary chemical elements in our intestinal tract and is required by every cell of the body. As an essential electrolyte, it works with calcium and phosphorus to build bones and it is needed for muscle and nerve function. Magnesium also helps to prevent and relieve constipation, regulates the heart and converts foods to energy. Consequently, magnesium deficiencies can cause hyperactivity, psychiatric disorders and convulsive seizures in children (4).

It is important for children with ADHD to eat a diet rich in magnesium. Foods rich in magnesium are green vegetables, (such as spinach and okra), nuts (almonds and peanuts) pumpkin seeds, and black beans. The recommended daily allowance for most people is between 300 and 400 milligrams per day of magnesium. A delicious child friendly way to get more magnesium in the body is to eat 1 ounce (142 seeds) of pumpkin seeds (equal to 151 milligrams magnesium) or 1 cup of okra (equal to 94 milligrams magnesium). My kids love okra roasted, and then sprinkled with sea salt. When they were small I told them it is nature’s pretzel.


Serves 4-6

1 pound fresh small whole okra (less than 3” in length)

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line large baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil.
  2. In mixing bowl, toss okra with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast for 10 minutes or until brown and tender. Turn okra once, after 5 minutes, while roasting. Transfer to serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature.


(1) United Nations Nation’s Information Service Annual Report (1996). United nation’s warnings on rialin. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/medicating/backlash/un.html

(2) The Georgetown University Medical Center Office of Continuing Professional Education and The International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology, Georgetown University Medical Center, and the International Health Foundation, Jackson, Tennessee Symposium (2000). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Causes and Possible Solutions NOHA NEWS, 1: 1-3. Retrieved from http://www.nutrition4health.org/NOHAnews/NNW00ADHD.htm.

(3) Kozielec, T., Starobrar-Hermelin, B. (1997) Assessment of magnesium levels in children with ADHD. Magnesium Research, 10 (2): 143-8. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9368235.

(4) Mousain-Bosc, M., Roche, M., Rapin, J., and Bali, (2004). Magnesium Vitb6 intake reduces central nervous system huperexcitability in children. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23 (5): 5454-548. Retireved from http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/abstract/23/5/545S


Autoimmune Diseases Triggered By Leaky Gut Syndrome


Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of most autoimmune disorders. But for many who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, the big question is “What triggers the inflammatory reaction in the body?” “A growing body of evidence suggests that virtually the same trio of factors underpins most, and perhaps all, autoimmune diseases: an environmental substance that is presented to the body, a genetically based tendency of the immune system to overreact to the substance, and an unusually permeable gut,” said Dr. Alessio Fasano, a leading researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (1).

Intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome are terms used to describe an inability of the stomach lining to absorb protein molecules. Instead of being absorbed and digested, these protein molecules circulate throughout the blood stream. Here, they stimulate the immune system, and, in turn, immune system cells react to their presence as they would to any foreign protein by initiating an inflammatory reaction that leads to autoantibody production and autoimmune disease development. Evidence for this theory includes the presence of gastrointestinal tissue damage seen in patients with a number of different autoimmune diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis, and dermatitis herpetiformis. In many of these conditions, a reduction of digestive inflammation correlates with a reduction or remission of autoimmune symptoms. (2)

There are many foods that trigger digestive inflammation. Among the most common foods are wheat, milk, and beef. In order to discover exactly what foods are the culprits, the best approach is an elimination diet of these foods. For more information about neutralizing inflammation in the body read The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook, available at http://www.amazon.com/Gluten-Free-Good-Health-Cookbook-Inflammation/dp/1572841052/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252425508&sr=1-1

Recent research has showed that the risk of rheumatoid arthritis is inversely associated with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (3) and some trials have produced benefits when patients eliminate cereal grains altogether and emphasize proteins rich in polyunsaturated fat, such as fish, nuts and soy. These low-carbohydrate diets may help because they suppress growth of harmful or immune-active intestinal bacteria (4).

I wanted to share this recent research and offer another delicious recipe that contains anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 oils (other than fish and nuts), antioxidants which help reduce chronic pain in the body, and fiber to balance the intestinal tract. Eat this Rhubarb Strawberry Fool for a refreshing dessert that will help reduce digestive inflammation. For more information about soy go to http://www.foodphilosopher.com/assets/docs/soyus.cfm


Yields 2 cups

2 cups rhubarb* (about 2 large stalks), diced in 1–inch pieces
1 teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup strawberries hulled and cut into halves (or use whole raspberries)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces soft silken tofu

  1. Combine the rhubarb, ginger, orange zest, and juice in a medium–size heavy saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, loosely cover, and simmer for 4 minutes.
  2. Add berries and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and add honey and vanilla extract. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. In a food processor, purée silken tofu until smooth. Add in cooked, cooled puree and blend until smooth. Cool in refrigerator.
  4. Serve with Greek yogurt for a very healthy dessert. The fool can be made several days ahead and refrigerated.

*Rhubarb leaves are inedible. Trim the stalks and remove all leaves completely. Then cut off the flat brown part from the bottom of each stalk. String the rhubarb only if the stalks are very large and green.


(1) Fasano, A. (2009). Surprises from celiac disease. Scientific American. 23:21. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=celiac-disease-insights

(2) Moore, E. (2007). Leaky gut syndrome: using probiotics and digestive enzymes in autoimmune disorders. General Medicine. Retrieved from http://autoimmunedisease.suite101.com/article.cfm/leaky_gut_syndrome#ixzz0npIBFylf.

(3) Linos, A, Kaklamani, V., Kaklamani, E., et al (2000). Dietary factors in relation to rheumatoid arthrisits: a role for olive oil and cooked vegetables. American Journal Clinical Nutrition. 70(6): 1077-82. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584053

(4) Vanderhoof, J & Young, R. (2006). Bacterial overgrowth. University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University. Retrieved from http://www.oley.org/lifeline/bacter.html

Lupus Linked to Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance

Lupus Linked to Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance

There is much controversy within the lupus community about whether a gluten-free diet helps alleviate symptoms of lupus.  The medical community acknowledges that some patients with lupus can also have celiac disease (an autoimmune intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley). However, the medical community has not acknowledged a link between lupus and non-celiac gluten intolerance. To understand the difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten intolerance, go to http://www.foodphilosopher.com/assets/docs/011808hnut.cfm. In a 2004 study in the American College of Gastroenterology (1), it was reported that 23% of patients with lupus also tested positive for antigliadin antibodies, but not celiac disease.  This type of gluten sensitivity is more common than celiac disease and it is important to understand that testing negative for celiac disease does not necessarily rule out gluten sensitivity.  In another study (2), patients were misdiagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, but were found to have non-celiac gluten intolerance. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America acknowledges that a gluten-free diet has been found to alleviate the symptoms of non-celiac gluten intolerance (3).

As you are well aware, May is Lupus Awareness Month. I wanted to share this recent research correlating lupus and non-celiac gluten intolerance and also another recipe that contains food rich in omega-3 oils and antioxidants, both of which help reduce chronic pain and inflammation in the body: Curried Grilled Halibut.

Curry powder contains turmeric. In India, turmeric is promoted as an anti-inflammatory herbal remedy and is said to produce fewer side effects than commonly used pain relievers. Some practitioners prescribe turmeric to relieve inflammation caused by arthritis, muscle sprains, swelling, and pain caused by injuries or surgical incisions. It is also promoted as a treatment for rheumatism and as an antiseptic for cleaning wounds. In addition, turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which has been found to hinder the growth of mutated cells associated with cancer of the breast, skin, and colon, as well as lymphoma. Curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory tests and also has been found to shrink animal cancer tumors (4). To read more about the the disease fighting benefits of herbs and spices go to http://www.foodphilosopher.com/assets/docs/091209hnut.cfm.


1½ pounds fresh salmon filet (1″ thick)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray

  1. In a gallon-size plastic bag, combine the oil and curry powder. Add the salmon and completely coat the fish. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill to 425°F. Lightly grease grilling surface (rack) with cooking spray.
  3. Place salmon on greased rack, skin side down, if applicable.
  4. Grill salmon 5 minutes on first side. Flip filet over. Grill another 5 minutes on the other side.
  5. Remove immediately and sprinkle fresh lemon juice over fish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

(1) The prevalence of celiac disease auto-anitobdies in patient with systemic lupus erthematosus (2004). The American Journal of Gastroenterology, March: 96 (4) Rensch, M, Szyjkowski, R, Shaffer, R, et al. Retrieved from http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118966167/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

(2) Gluten sensitivity masquerading as systemic lupus erythematosus (2004). Ann Rheum Disease 2004 Nov: 63(11):1501-3. Hadjivassiliou M, Sanders DS, Grünewald RA, Akil M.

(3) Gluten sensitivity: Can gluten intolerance make me feel sick? (2009). Retrieved from http://www.gluten.net/downloads/print/glutenintoleranceflat.pdf.

(4) American Cancer Society (2008). Turmeric. Accessed August 31, 2009 from http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Turmeric.asp.

Treat Lupus by Eating Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and tissue damage to virtually any organ system in the body. While lupus affects mostly women of childbearing age, more that 1.5 million American men, women, and children are affected by the disease. Researchers believe that a combination of environment, genetics and hormones can “trigger” lupus but, the exact cause is unknown and there is no significant treatment available except to manage the chronic inflammation in the body.

One critical management technique is eating a healthy diet that reduces inflammation and pain in the body. Therefore, it is important to understand which foods strengthen or weaken the immune system. Foods that strengthen the immune system by reducing inflammation include polyunsaturated fatty acids rich in omega-3 oils (such as walnuts, wild salmon and olive oil) and dark leafy greens rich in antioxidants (such as spinach and arugula). Processed foods, including wheat and sugar, weaken the immune system by causing chronic inflammation.

For a quick delicious meal of whole foods that can help reduce the symptoms of lupus, try the Roast Tamari-Marinated Salmon and Mixed Greens with Warmed Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Walnut Oil Vinaigrette. Both recipes can be made in the oven in less than 30 minutes.

For more gluten-free, good health recipes visit http://www.foodphilosopher.com.

Roast Tamari-Marinated Salmon

Serves 4

11/2 pounds fresh wild salmon fillet (1 inch thick) with skin

1/3 cup (gluten-free) tamari soy sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the salmon in a baking dish and pour the tamari soy sauce over the top and sides of the fish. Use a spoon to completely coat the fish’s surface. Allow the fish to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the Mixed Green Salad.
  2. Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425ºF. Line a medium-sized heavy baking sheet with foil and lightly brush with olive oil.
  3. Put the fillet on the baking sheet (skin-side down, if applicable) and brush the fillet with the olive oil. Season with pepper to taste.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and roast for 10 minutes per 1-inch thickness of the fillet. (If the fillet is 11/2 inches, the roast time is 15 minutes.)
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving plate (lift the fish from the skin, if applicable). Serve hot.

Mixed Greens with Warmed Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, and Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

Serves 4

1/2 cup walnuts

4 cups organic arugula leaves

4 cups organic baby spinach leaves

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

4 ounces goat cheese, sliced into 4 rounds

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Position the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Place the walnuts on a small baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted. Set aside. (This can be done several days ahead; if you do, store the nuts in a tightly sealed container at room temperature until you use them.)
  3. Grease a small baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Carefully press the sesame seeds on to each round of goat cheese. Place the cheese rounds on a baking sheet and warm them in the oven for 3 minutes.
  4. Toss the arugula and spinach with the Walnut Oil Vinaigrette. Arrange on salad plates. Sprinkle the top of each salad with walnuts and place a warmed round of goat cheese on the side of each plate.

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

1/2 cup walnut oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients and shake to mix. Keep tightly covered and refrigerated. Allow to come to room temperature before using.