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Reversing Chronic Diseases in Children

In the featured video, I interview Beth Lambert, who in 2009 founded Epidemic Answers, a research organization focused on helping children with autism and other chronic diseases.

Reversing Chronic Diseases in Children

When I graduated medical school, the incidence of autism was 1 in 10,000. For the first decade of my medical practice, I didn't have a single autistic patient. By the mid- to late- 1990s, I was treating hundreds of autistic children in my practice, and since then, autism has reached truly epidemic proportions. In her 2010 book, " A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America's Children ," Lambert reviewed not only the epidemic of autism but also other

childhood epidemics, such as autoimmune diseases, and their environmental root causes.

"I cataloged these kids who were getting better and told their stories,"

she says.

"Since that time, I have been documenting stories of kids who have reversed allkinds of conditions, and I have launched a nonprofit organization to helpconnect parents with the resources they need to help their kids get on the roadto recovery.Subsequently, I also started several research studies to look at theenvironmental causes of autism, ADHD and autoimmune diseases, and whatcan be done to help reverse these [problems].So, it's really become a life mission for me to help people understand that theirkids don't need to be sick, and there's plenty of tools and resources we havetoday to solve this epidemic. It's just information and access to resources.That's really it. Because that's the answer, I'm just hell-bent on getting thatmessage out there."

Studies Underway

Chris D'Adamo, who co-wrote my paper on linoleic acid (LA) , published in the journal Nutrients, is the research director for the Epidemic Answer's research project called "Documenting Hope," which is looking at the environmental causes of chronic conditions and what we can do to reverse them.

"Our first study is gathering tons of information about what it means to be achild in modern America,"

Lambert explains.

"What they are eating, what theyare putting on their skin, what they are doing all day long — screen habits, sleep— anything you can imagine that is as part of their health. We correlate all ofthese things with health outcomes, symptoms and diagnoses, et cetera."

They're also working on an intervention study in which they're doing a deep dive into the health of a small group of children with chronic health conditions to identify the root causes. Each child is then placed on a customized 18-month program to reverse their condition and their progress is documented along the way.

"So, we're not only trying to understand what is causing these conditions, butwhat we can do to reverse them,"

Lambert says.

"We know we need to gather the evidence, because for over 10 years, I've beentalking to physicians who will say, 'Well, there's no evidence that autism isreversible. That's only anecdotal.' Well, if it's only anecdotal, why aren't we doingresearch to demonstrate that it is possible? Why don't we pull together someevidence of hope for these children who are impacted?"

Lay of the Land

As explained by Lambert, in the 1980s, a movement of parents who suspected their child's autism was not necessarily genetic and irreversible started gaining traction. Physicians also began asking questions, wondering whether it's a systemic problem as opposed to just a brain-based one, and started opening to the possibility that it might be reversible.

"They started looking into the GI tract, they started looking into toxicity andnutrition — all these kinds of things ... Defeat Autism Now was one of the firstphysician and parent movements where they got together and had conferences.AutismOne was another.I would say the biggest legacy of that movement right now is probably TACA,which used to be called Talk About Curing Autism ... They are looking at the rootcauses of autism and provide resources for parents that ... are looking fornutrition changes, how to detoxify a child, and how to approach it from abiomedical perspective."

Unfortunately, many autism organizations have struggled to gain traction because the only autism treatments that are reimbursed by insurance are applied behavioral analysis (ABA), physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT).

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

The widely accepted form of treating autism, ABA, basically trains the child into expected or typical behaviors. Oftentimes, however, ABA is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. As explained by Lambert:

"They have brains and bodies that aren't talking to each other, thecommunication's out of whack. That needs to be addressed first. That's why Italk about root causes, because if you can address the root causes and what'sgoing on that precipitates the behaviors we associate with autism, then you'regoing to have all kinds of success using modalities like ABA or OT or PT.They can all be helpful in modalities, but not until you look at some of the thingsthat precipitated the symptoms in the first place ...No one's asking about the child's diet. No one is asking about how they'resleeping, or how they're pooping, or are they going outside? Are they sitting infront of a screen? Nobody's asking those questions. But those are all reallyimportant for kids, especially kids on the spectrum.When you're talking about a child who is not going to be able to liveindependently unless we intervene, who may not be able to do things forthemselves unless we intervene, you have to start asking questions about thehealth of their whole body, because the brain is connected to the body, and ifyou have something out of balance in the body, it's going to impact your brainand it's going to precipitate symptoms of autism.So, going back to the origins of this whole movement, there were a lot ofparents and practitioners who started asking the right questions, asking aboutnutrition, asking about their environment.And when they followed the path to bring their child's body back into balance byeating nutritious foods, getting them outside, making sure they're sleeping,making sure their environment is detoxified, the symptoms of autism startedevaporating.That to me is so profoundly inspiring. If we know that by changing theenvironment you can improve this child's life and perhaps drop that diagnosis,help them to thrive, why wouldn't we be pursuing these options? That's whereTACA came in to try and to close that gap.Epidemic Answers has started to not just do that for kids with autism, but forkids with all kinds of chronic conditions, whether it's Type 1 diabetes orrheumatoid arthritis or autism. You just look at the root causes and your childcan have a better outcome if you make those changes that you need to theirenvironment and their lifestyle."

The Real Cause of Autism: The Toxic Load of Modern Living

Root causes contributing to the epidemic of chronic diseases in children include (but are not limited to) things like processed food loaded with sugar and harmful fats like linoleic acid, gut dysfunction, childhood vaccines, antibiotic overuse and mold. But it's almost never just one of those things, but rather a constellation of contributing factors. Genetics also plays a role. For example, your genes dictate how well your body can detoxify. But contrary to popular belief, genetics are rarely the sole or even primary cause, because genes are epigenetically regulated, meaning they're infiuenced and modified by the environment.

"At the end of the day, when you start looking in the literature, and you startcompiling all of these stories, you begin to see a picture of what is causingautism,"

Lambert says.

"It's what we call the total load of modern living. Thetotal load is a concept that's been around for a very long time, especially inenvironmental medicine ...Patricia Lemer, who wrote a book called 'Outsmarting Autism,' first applied theconcept of total load to neurodevelopmental conditions like autism, where shewould say, basically, 'It isn't one thing that causes autism. It's really a perfectstorm, a total load. It's too many stressors of modern living on a body thatdoesn't have enough resources to withstand those stressors.'Here's an example. Why is it that two children go into a pediatrician's ofice, onegets their 18-month vaccines and the other one gets their 18-month vaccines,one develops autism and the other one doesn't? Is it genes? Is it what the childate that day? Is it the fact that one child had a sickness and the other onedidn't?Was it because this child was on antibiotics when he had vaccines and this onewasn't? There are so many variables in each child and in each story. So, that'swhere I think the total load concept or total load theory really stands up isbecause there's so much medical literature on modern living and the ways thatwe live in the modern world and how it damages your health.Infiammatory foods, processed foods, the enormous quantity of sugar thatmodern children consume, the number of pharmaceuticals children have, theantibiotics, for instance ... Antibiotics ... destroy your gut bacteria. What is thesignificance of that? That gut bacteria regulates everything from your immunesystem to your digestion of food and your metabolism.So, all of those factors are going to impact a child, especially when they are inthat critical developmental time. So, if you think about an infant and all the workthey have to do to get to crawl, and walk, and talk, and relate to the humans intheir lives, all of that takes an enormous amount of energy.If their body is burdened with toxins from the laundry detergent, and from themercury and cadmium on their toys, and from the infiammatory foods they'reeating, and their vaccines and their antibiotics and their proton pump inhibitors... that's when you're going to see them begin to develop symptoms, whetherthose are skin symptoms, like eczema, allergies, or whether it'sneurodevelopmental symptoms.As we're going through this developmental timeline, if you have an enormousburden of stressors, infiammation going on in your body, and you're supposedto be developing vision or speech, your body's too busy dealing with all thosestressors, so you're going to have an arrested, impaired, or delayeddevelopment.The short answer is, it's not one thing. Autism is not caused by one thing. It'scaused by modern living. And all the things that we do that we think are normal,the food we eat, the medicines we take, the activities we do — sitting inside andplaying on devices rather than doing the things that humans evolved to do overmillions of years.We are so disconnected from nature. We don't eat natural food, we don't donatural activities. We don't even see the sunlight anymore. So, that, in a nutshell,is really what's causing, not just autism, but the epidemic of asthma, obesity,diabetes, autoimmune diseases. It's all part of the same thing."

Multipronged Treatment Approach Is Required

Epidemic Answers is the only group currently conducting research to identify root causes and how to reverse chronic childhood diseases, and preliminary data confirm that the more stressors a child has, the worse their health outcomes. They're also one of the few groups looking at the impact of multiple interventions at once. Most studies focus on one thing at a time, but that's not how the real world works.

"These kids who have recovered from autism, they never did one thing at atime,"

Lambert says.

"The parents did everything all at once to support thatchild and get their body what it needed to course correct ... You can't just doone thing.You have to address diet at the same time you're addressing sleep, at the sametime you're addressing stooling, at the same time you're addressing integratingthe brain and the body with therapies that help correct those developmentalproblems that emerge.By doing all of those things at once, we hypothesize that these kids can getbetter, that they can drop their diagnoses. That's why we're doing the researchlike this, because people don't believe it. Anecdotes don't carry weight.We need to do the research in order to convince the medical community thatthis really is the way to go. Kids are developing these conditions because of theway we're living, so we have to change the way they're living in order to get thembetter."

Basic Nutritional Considerations

I strongly suspect linoleic acid in processed food is a major contributor to ill health, so making sure you're feeding your child whole food, ideally organic, is key. Sugar is frequently thought to be the primary culprit, but I believe linoleic acid is far more dangerous in the long term than sugar. Now, that doesn't mean carbohydrates are unfairly criticized. My first book, published in 2004, was "The No-Grain Diet." Many autistic children put on a no-grain diet fared quite well. But while grains contain sugar, many also have high linoleic acid content. Resistant starches can also cause problems, as the fiber, which your body cannot digest, ends up fueling gram-negative bacteria that produce endotoxin in your colon. Endotoxin causes loads of infiammation and increases your serotonin level. Serotonin is probably another major contributing factor for these kids. Lowering their serotonin levels and increasing GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, would probably be quite helpful. Other key strategies include spending more time outdoors in natural environments and minimizing your electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. These things don't cost anything, and they not only can reduce your child's risk for autism but also most chronic degenerative diseases.

Adventures in Healing Conference

If you want to learn more about how to address autism and/or chronic childhood diseases, you don't want to miss the Adventures in Healing conference , which will be held November 10 through 12, 2023, in Orlando. The conference has two tracks, one for professionals and one for parents, and I'll be speaking at both.

"It is meant to simulate some of what we're learning in our intervention study.Our intervention study through Documenting Hope is called the FLIGHT Study.Part of what we're doing in there is bringing in experts from a variety ofperspectives. We have a nutrition expert. Somebody who understands theenvironment, and what kinds of environmental toxins can impact a child.We have somebody who does functional medicine. We have people who bring instructural health, like the dental piece, the oral motor piece and vision. All ofthese pieces are being looked at in each individual child in our interventionstudy.In this conference, we wanted to represent that with speakers. So, we're havingspeakers who can speak about environmental elements, [such as] Amy Ziff,who knows a lot about the environmental toxins in your personal care products,and how to get those out of your home.We have a dietician and a nutritionist coming in to talk about specialized dietsfor kids with chronic conditions, autism and autoimmune diseases and more.We have functional medicine doctors coming in to talk about things like mold inthe environment. We have doctors who are coming in to talk about rewiring thebrain to the body."

Consider Donating to Epidemic Answers

Please, consider making a donation to Epidemic Answers today, and I will match your donation dollar for dollar up to $10,000. I believe the work Lambert is doing is incredibly crucial for our future. If we can crack the nut of autism, we will also be able to help people with other conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, which is affecting people at increasingly younger ages. To learn more, please visit and/or . Epidemic Answers also has a membership community called Healing Together , where you can learn how to tackle your child's most challenging health symptoms. As explained by Lambert:

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