Biomedical Approach to Learning Challenges in Children

Posted in Kids Health on Sun, Jun 13th, 2010 at 1:25 pm    4 Responses

This article should not be used in place of consulting with a qualified health professional.

The biomedical approach is not ‘alternative’ medicine; it is a science-based, molecular-biological approach to treating children with learning challenges. The aim of the biomedical approach is to address the underlying health problems through diet, nutritional supplements, identifying hidden allergies, treating the gut and detoxification.

The single most important system when it comes to child health, is the digestive system.  If there is something in your child’s digestive system that is preventing him/her from digesting, absorbing and assimilating nutrients, the effect will be systemic and there may be crises in other systems: endocrine, nervous and immune.

The whole length of the digestive system is coated with a bacterial layer, providing a natural barrier against invaders, undigested food, toxins and parasites. The ability of the digestive system to perform its functions is completely dependent on your child having good gut flora which play an active role in digestion and absorption, as well as the synthesis of vitamins and minerals.

The food your child eats will have a direct effect on the composition of gut flora. Too much sugary food and processed carbohydrates increase the number of different fungi and some bacteria. They also promote population of the intestines by worms and other parasites. Additionally, and very importantly, allergies and intolerances to foods can have a detrimental effect on gut flora and the digestive system, leading to low grade inflammation and destruction of the gut wall.

Allergies and intolerances are a huge problem in children with learning challenges. However, a diet for healing may not be the diet forever. There are some interventions that are for healing – breaking vicious cycles – and others that are long-term.

The most reactive foods are:

  • Wheat
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Corn
  • Soy

Followed closely by:
Chocolate, yeast and various tree nuts.

One of the best places to start if you have a child with a learning challenge is to remove gluten and casein from their diet. This is known as the Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet (GFCF diet). Many parents have found it to be extremely successful if implemented properly. As a result, it has become one of the most popular diets in the biomedical approach.

For more info see:

Check food labels for preservatives, colourings and artificial flavourings, as they are known to impact behaviour. MSG, for example, is known to be an excitotoxin, which can damage and kill brain cells in people who are sensitive to it. One of its primary ingredients, glutamate, can interfere with dopamine metabolism, which is a central problem in kids with ADHD symptoms.

The ultimate goal is to have a diet rich in phytonutrients, because aside from providing essential nutrients, phytonutrients normalize detoxification. Foods rich in phytonutrients include rosemary, ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, pomegranate, spinach, blueberry, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, wasabi and watercress.

It is essential to remember that without a properly functioning digestive system, your child will not be able to absorb supplements, no matter how many you give to him or her. Many synthetic supplements, fillers and binders in tablets will aggravate and irritate already sensitive gut lining and interfere with the healing process.  In cases where supplementation cannot be avoided, it is essential to choose supplements without any ingredients that may aggravate a gut condition – which includes any supplements that contain soy, gluten or casein. You should always consult with a qualified health professional before giving your child any supplements.

Heavy metal toxicity is, in some cases, associated with learning challenges, in particular with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Consult with a qualified health professional to get information on having your child tested for heavy metal toxicity.

Keep your home as chemical-free as possible using minimal amounts of domestic cleaning chemicals, paints, pesticides, etc. Many cosmetics, toiletries, perfumes and other personal care products contain toxins called phthalates which are detrimental to child health.


  1. Peter Sep 16, 2010

    This is a very interesting article. Thank you for sharing. I’ve emailed a link to my wife.

  2. Peter Sep 16, 2010

    If you feed a child who doesn’t particularly have learning difficulties a diet rich in phytonutrients will this help them learn even better than they would otherwise? 😉

    Seeing your list of the most ‘reactive’ foods is like reading a list of my 2.5yo daughter’s favourite foods. Should I be concerned that in future this might affect her learning ability / attention span?

  3. Hannah Sep 16, 2010

    Hi Peter. These foods will only cause a problem if a child is allergic or intolerant to them – whether the reaction is immediate or delayed. For most children, these foods do not pose a problem. However, it’s always good to find alternatives to wheat since we rely on it so heavily to ‘fill the gap’. Eating too much of anything is never a good thing.

  4. elsa ritchie Jun 26, 2011

    Thank you so much for this article. So much questions has been asnwaered
    In this one article. I have tried so many things for my 5 year old
    Autistic son with no avail. Am considering to get him tested for food senititities
    And I am confident that it will help him so much. He went on Risperdol 6 months ago
    And it did nothing for him. He has been off it for the last month
    and already seems better off it than on. Will be dping the diet intead of the drugs thank you
    Very much. So upset with my neurologist. My son has been seeing him for the past 3 years and
    I mentioned that I should try the diet but he put me off it. So
    Sorry I listened to him. How can he not know that the gut links to the brain.
    Am so angry and will be following my own gut from now on.

    Will be seeing you soonm

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