This is Part 5 of my 12-Part Series on Leaky Gut and Family Health.  Part 1: Leaky Gut: What Is it, And Do You and Your Child Have It?   Part 2Leaky Gut According to Chinese Medicine    Part 3: The 4 R’s to Gut Healing:  Removal (Step 1)   Part 4: The Feingold Diet for Behavioral Problems    Part 6: Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for Leaky Gut   Part 7: The 4 R’s to Gut Healing: Replacement (Step 2)   Part 8: Reinoculation Phase for Healing Leaky Gut   Part 9: Repair Phase for Healing Leaky Gut   Part 10: Challenges of Going Through Dietary Changes and How To Succeed   Part 11: Raising Kids with Healthy Cravings   and Part 12: Leaky Gut: Tying It All Together

In the previous article in this series, I explained how to remove common additives and preservatives from your child’s diet in order to notice some immediate improvements in behavior and ability to focus. In addition to artificial ingredients, foods and medications high in salicylates may also need to be minimized or temporarily removed from the diet. If you haven’t read that article yet, please go back and read it first. Then implement the first step before coming back to this article and implementing the second step.

After you have successfully removed artificial ingredients and reduced high salicylate foods from your child’s diet, you may notice the benefits within 24 hours. However, this is often not a complete solution, especially if your child has more serious behavioral problems and physical health problems. It is crucially important to help your child transition to a nutrient-dense diet to help build a strong foundation for the rest of his or her life and more fully recover from chronic health challenges.

We’ve been led to believe by food manufacturers that nutritionally fortified foods — including Pop-Tarts, breakfast cereals, instant oatmeal, sandwich bread, pasta, instant rice, nutrition bars, fortified drink mixes, and other common “staples” — can help us obtain better nutrition. However, the truth is that these fortified foods contain synthetic vitamins and minerals that were created in a lab and added to highly processed, nutrient-poor food. Medical scientists have only recently discovered that the body doesn’t process these synthetic vitamins and minerals in the same way that it metabolizes real, unprocessed whole foods. Folic acid, a synthetic substitute for folate, a B vitamin found in leafy green vegetables and organ meats, is often not metabolized at all and can increase your risk of developing cancer. Taking it during pregnancy does little good to prevent neural tube defects and low IQ. You are better off getting folate from real food or a supplement containing 5-MTHF, the form of folate that is readily metabolized by the body.

If your child has been eating a processed diet her whole life, it can be a daunting task to switch her to a real food diet overnight. However, it can be much easier to do if you first remove the highly addictive synthetic ingredients and preservatives first. This will help prevent temper tantrums that may occur when you begin to introduce real foods in favor of old favorites.

What is Real Food? Vegetables, fruits, meats, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds that are sold as individual ingredients rather than as finished products all qualify as being Real Foods. Instead of buying a loaf of bread, canned soup, and cake mix, you would purchase the fresh ingredients like your great-grandmother would have done. If you are going to have stew for dinner, you would begin with beef stew meat, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and barley. You might make a large enough pot of stew on Sunday to be able to serve leftovers for the rest of the week. This is Real Food, and it may not sound as exciting as frozen pizza on Monday and Kraft macaroni & cheese on Tuesday, but the entire family will notice substantial health benefits.

To read more on processed foods and switching to Real Foods, please go to my 8-Part Series on Healthy Eating.

Next up, part 6 of my 12-part series on Leaky Gut, I will cover the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for Leaky Gut.