Our children have experienced something that no other generation has, and the effects of the quarantine are still to be seen in the coming years. As a father of three, I am concerned about them and their peers in this generation. This article is to inform parents about what their family may be struggling with coming out of the quarantine.
It has been a stressful and strenuous time over the last few months. Most Americans have had to re-evaluate many priorities and could spend more time with the family. Much of this time was spent struggling to help their children with online schooling. Many parents have gotten a good look at their children from a new perspective. They are seeing some issuing arising in their behaviors and mood.
Many factors are leading to a decline in your children’s health, many factors that are affecting their Neurotransmitter and Hormone levels. You might find that you relate to many of these same issues as your children.
- Poor diet
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Different stresses
- Screen time with electronics/ blue light
- Sedentary lifestyle
Parents have found increased demands on their time helping with schooling and work, and many have had to choose quicker easier options. Unfortunately, these unhealthy choices became all too common. These easy yet unhealthy food choices, with snacking all day, causes horrible gut dysfunction, which leads to digestion issues. Food is fuel for our bodies and brain and can affect how our brains function, and in turn, our hormones both negatively and positively. Two of the Neurotransmitters that we see the most significant disruption in is Serotonin and Dopamine. Serotonin boosts your mood and helps with peristalsis the movement of your bowels.
Low Serotonin symptoms include:
- depressed mood
- impulsive behavior
- low self-esteem
- poor appetite
Additionally, low serotonin levels are thought to be associated with several psychological conditions, including:
- eating disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- social anxiety disorder
Causes of Serotonin deficiency are:
- Low dietary intake of amino Acid L-tryptophan
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-6
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Tryptophan is broken down into Serotonin, which is broken down into Melatonin. Without a healthy level of Serotonin, you cannot produce healthy levels of Melatonin. Low levels of Melatonin lead to:
- Sleep problems such as insomnia
- Changes in Mood
- Symptoms of Low Thyroid Hormone
- Intestinal pain
Adults can also experience:
- Increased Oxidation/Aging of the body
- Menopause symptoms
- Restless leg syndrome
Low Dopamine Symptoms:
- stiffness in the muscles
- muscle cramps, spasms, or tremors
- aches and pains
- low energy
- an inability to focus
- loss of balance
- trouble sleeping or disturbed sleep
- moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- difficulty eating and swallowing
- weight loss or weight gain
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- frequent pneumonia
Many kids lack insight or self-awareness of what is happening in their bodies and cannot express their feelings:
- feeling fatigued
- feeling demotivated
- feeling inexplicably sad or tearful
- mood swings
- feeling hopeless
- having low self-esteem
- feeling guilt-ridden
- feeling anxious
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
- hallucinations and night terrors
The most common diseases linked to a dopamine deficiency include:
- psychosis, including hallucinations or delusions
- Parkinson’s disease
Causes of Dopamine deficiency are:
- Low dietary intake of amino Acid L-tyrosine
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Tyrosine is naturally turned into Dopamine, which is broken down into the Catecholamines- Norepinephrine and Epinephrine. Without a healthy level of Dopamine, you cannot produce healthy levels of Catecholamines.
Low levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine can result in physical and mental symptoms, such as:
- changes in blood pressure
- changes in heart rate
- low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia
- migraine headaches
- problems sleeping
Also, norepinephrine plays a role in focus and promotes periods of sustained attention. With low levels of norepinephrine, many will develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Increasing certain probiotics through supplementation, thus increasing their population by using pre-biotics, can have profound effects on your body. The production of neurotransmitters by probiotics, in addition to your output though challenged, can normalize levels. There is a class of probiotics known as Psychobiotics that either produces neurotransmitters or reduce inflammation in the nervous system. These populations can be decimated in your gut due to prolonged exposure to an unhealthy and inflammatory diet.
Psychobiotics can benefit many significant diseases:
- Celiac Gluten sensitivity
- Eating disorders
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
Adults will experience these diseases:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Lewy Body Dementia
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
These are the dietary fiber that feeds probiotics in your gut. These nutritional staples feed the gut bacteria and produce nutrients for your cells in the colon and lead to a healthier digestive system. Some of the superfoods to eat and incorporate in your diet:
- Apples with skins
- Bananas under-ripe slightly green
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem Artichoke
We have seen how certain Neurotransmitters can affect hormone production and regulation. Thyroid, Cortisol, and sex hormones are all susceptible to disruption by lack of neurotransmitters as well as lack of quality fats/Lipids that the body converts into cholesterol. Cholesterol is the basis for making many of our hormones; the primary three are Aldosterone, Cortisol, and Sex Hormones (Testosterone and Estrogens).
- Aldosterone: a steroid hormone. Its role is to regulate salt and water in the body, thus influencing blood pressure.
- Cortisol: can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. Protective against stress in the body.
- Sex Hormones: DHEA is broken down to Testosterone and three versions of estrogen, all playing complicated roles in our health and vitality.
When we have a limited amount of good fats, all the levels of these hormones can be affected. A deficiency of cholesterol, along with high levels of stress, whether it be physical, emotional, mental, or chemical in nature, our body must protect itself with Cortisol. In doing this, we see many of our other hormones become unbalanced.
Low Aldosterone levels can result in:
- Low blood pressure
- Increase potassium
- Lead to Addison’s disease
The precursor to Cortisol is progesterone. When under stress, the body will use up progesterone much quicker to make Cortisol. Without enough progesterone to balance out and protect from the effects of estrogen, we see many issues, especially for females and some males.
The effects of low Progesterone and high Estrogen:
- Abdominal pain.
- Depression, anxiety, or mood swings
- Low blood sugar.
- Headaches or migraines
- mood swings
- anxiety and panic attacks
- cold hands or feet
- trouble sleeping
- memory problems
Adults will experience the following symptoms:
- Breasts that are often sore
- Spotting between periods
- Vaginal dryness.
- swelling and tenderness in your breasts
- fibrocystic lumps in your breasts
- decreased sex drive
- irregular menstrual periods
- increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- weight gain
- hair loss
There is a balance between Progesterone and Estrogen is essential to keep balanced and regulated. Another ratio many are unaware of is the balance of Cortisol and DHEA. They are both derived from pregnenolone. There are terms such as pregnenolone steal or shunting to describe the act of increased production down to Cortisol instead of DHEA. These can affect many aspects of your health.
- Neural Tissue Health
- Memory and Learning
- Quality of sleep and mood
- Neuronal connectivity
- Musculoskeletal Health
- Muscle integrity
- Bone turnover
- Connective tissue Turnover
- Carbohydrate metabolism
- Cell Energetics
- Glucose Homeostasis
- Eicosanoid Modulation
- Immune system Regulation
- Pro or Anti-Inflammatory state
- Detox capacity
- Heavy Metal Chelation
- Mixed Function Oxidative Stress Modulation
- Metabolism of Fats and Proteins
- Protein turnover
- Mucosal Surface Integrity
- Weight and Fat Distribution
- Endocrine Functionality
- Thyroid Functionality
- Ovarian Hormone Levels
Exercise and Electronics
Our bodies are designed to move. When a majority of our daily activities that we usually experience is closed or inaccessible, our lifestyles begin to become very sedentary. This can lead to a buildup of toxins in our system. By moving and exercising, our lymphatics system is pumped with muscle contractions moving lymph, toxins, and cellular debris out of our bodies.
Blue Light emitted from our electronics can have a significant effect on our health. Kids have had a dramatic increase in screen time with online classes as well as using electronics to staying touch with social media due to lack of human exposure typically derived from school and sports. This Over-exposure to blue light messes with our ability to fall asleep and reduces our REM sleep, which is vital for restfulness. The pineal gland, which is a significant part of our limbic system, also known as the emotional brain, secretes Melatonin. It helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and ramps up the production of Melatonin about two or three hours before bedtime to help you sleep. Blue light can interrupt the release of Melatonin, which can hinder our capability to fall asleep up to three hours. Too offset the amount of exposure, there are several things to consider:
- Buy blue light blocking glasses, consider using them within 3 hours of bed
- Turn devices off two to three hours before bedtime.
- Look at settings. Many devices can have the blue light turned down or off
- Use red light at night in bathrooms and nightlights; dim red lights have the least effect on Melatonin and circadian rhythms.
- Get more sunshine during the day for improved restful sleep and a boost in mood and attention.
You can now recognize and understand much of what your family is experiencing. We can rebalance these Neurotransmitters and hormones levels in your children. Optimizing their ability to perform and succeed in school, arts, and sports and reclaiming what has been lost and restoring their future.
Call (316) 531-3030 for a complimentary 20-minute consultation with Dr. Frank.