The Domino Effect of Poor Energy Metabolism on Your Sensory Kid's Entire System

Through his work with hundreds of children, Integrative pediatrician, Dr. Katiraei of Wholistic Kids and Families has found that a large percentage of Sensory Kids have an underlying physical imbalance which creates a domino effect which wreaks havoc on their entire system.

The underlying imbalance has to do with the way our mitochondria (the "generators" in each cell) convert nutrients into energy. When our mitochondria are doing their job efficiently, we have enough energy to fuel our brain, muscles, and organs. We feel good and our bodies work well.

When the mitochondria aren’t doing their job well, we lack the vitality and resilience to function and our physical, emotional and mental health suffer. Children whose mitochondria aren’t functioning efficiently are more prone to sensory, gut, immune, adrenal and hormonal dysfunction, all of which tend to manifest in challenging behaviors that are largely misunderstood by parents, teachers, family and friends.

In this interview, Dr. K. explains in detail why poor mitochondrial function or poor energy metabolism impacts every other system in the body. I recommend pulling the interview up on your phone, plugging in your earbuds, putting your phone in your pocket and listening like you would listen to a podcast. That way, you can listen in segments if you don't have the time to listen to the entire interview in one sitting.

To help this invaluable information sink in, here is a list of the key takeaways:

  • Good energy metabolism is the foundation of good health
  • Signs of poor energy metabolism include: tires easily; prefers to sit and play rather than run around the playground; crashes after short spans of activity; slow to get going in the morning; has history of skipping or delayed motor milestones; wakes up tired despite good night of sleep; has dark circles under eyes, has low muscle tone
  • Low energy metabolism leads to gut issues, but you can’t fix a child’s gut until you fix the underlying problem with energy metabolism
  • Mitochondria are like little generators in each of our cells that make the electricity that fuels our bodies
  • Genetics and toxins like glyphosates are two of the biggest mitochondrial disruptors
  • Our environment and our food supply are more toxic than they have ever been in the past and are part of the reason why we are seeing a rise in Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and other developmental issues
  • There is no “cookie cutter” approach that will fix all children; each child has his own unique story which must be looked at through a zoomed out lens
  • If a child has eating issues, poor energy metabolism is often the underlying culprit
  • The domino effect looks like this: we need energy to chew food, we need energy to digest food, we need energy to produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes, we need energy to produce bile to break down fats… when our body is not efficiently converting food into energy, all of these feeding mechanisms suffer which leads to digestive and gut issues
  • Low energy production = poor eating = poor digestion = poor gut function = poor immune function
  • There are simple ways you can optimize your mitochondrial function - Spectrumneeds is an amazing supplement for sensory kids as is L-Carnitine (email me for questions about dosing)
  • Healing your child is a marathon, not a sprint
  • There are simple ways to improve your child’s digestive tract: Orthobiotic Powder Probiotic, Biotagen Prebiotic and Digestive Enzymes are three safe supplements that can help (I mix the powder with Spectrumneeds in a little bit of juice for my boys)
  • In children 5 years and older, you can give ½ tsp apple cider vinegar in a little bit of water before meals to help with digestion
  • Adrenal imbalance is common in kids with low energy metabolism. Signs include: crabby in the mornings, dark circles under eyes, meltdowns common around 2pm-4pm, then get a burst of energy at bedtime- are “tired but wired”
  • An estimated 40 percent of sensory kids have adrenal issues
  • Common side effects of adrenal issues include: allergies, red eyes, immune issues and eczema
  • The adrenals need a ton of energy, that is why adrenal fatigue is common when a child has low energy metabolism
  • Adults who have adrenal issues can take Eleuthero Root to help balance
  • Children can take this herbal adrenal tincture to bring their adrenals back into balance
  • Energy production also impacts hormone regulation- sensory kids often have thyroid issues which contribute to their behavioral issues
  • Sensory kids are physically ailing and often do not have control over their behavior
  • In order to help them we need to understand the underlying physical imbalances that are the root of their suffering
  • When kids systems are “short circuiting,” it makes it very hard to connect with them and creates a negative feedback loop which impacts their sense of self and our relationship with them
  • We as parents need to suspend our judgments about our kids’ behavior so we can get to the bottom of what’s causing them to suffer

If there's one thing you take away from this interview, let it be this: children with sensory issues and accompanying behavioral problems are NOT bad kids and your are NOT a bad parent.

These kiddos are physically ailing and often don't have control over how they're acting. Dr. K. wants you to know that THERE ARE ways to help your child heal. It's going to be a marathon, not a sprint, but with faith, patience and tenacity, you can help get your child's system back in balance. It's Dr. K and my mission to help you do just that. Visit Wholistic Minds for more guidance on how to get to the bottom of your child's issues.

Leave your questions and comments below.


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Hi! I'm Cameron, mom of two incredible, "differently-wired" boys who have sensory processing challenges, wife of a nerdy surfer, mindfulness practitioner and Parenting Coach with master's degrees in education and psychology.