Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a neurological condition that is characterized by disorganized sensory processing and it may lead to hyper- or hyposensitivity to pain, temperature, sound, and touch, among other issues .
Accordingly, children with SPD may overreact or under-react to sensory input. For instance, they may demonstrate a high pain threshold, but feel as if the sensation of having the teeth brushed is extremely unpleasant.
In typically developing children, a healthy diet provides nourishment for the nervous system and it fosters healthy nerve cells that relay accurate sensory information .
The same is true for children with SPD, but because children with sensory issues struggle on a daily basis to re-integrate or reorganize their nervous system, extra care must be taken to ensure that they consistently consume an optimal sensory diet through nutrition intervention.
In some cases, children who have sensory issues are not given an actual SPD diagnosis, but they can still greatly benefit from nutrition intervention .
Children with sensory issues typically have higher nutritional needs because they often experience oral defensiveness as well as abnormal sensitivity to textures, taste, and smells that limit their food intake (e.g., picky eating) .
Fortunately, there are certain types of foods and nutrients that help improve sensory and mental function. For example, ample amounts of fruits and vegetables provide healthy carbohydrates that are a steady source of energy and this targets attention issues and brain fog that some children with SPD struggle with .
Probiotics have also been shown to boost mental function by improving digestive health. There is a vast network of nerves in the intestinal tract that influence various processes in the brain [2, 5]. Therefore, the ability of probiotics to enhance intestinal nerve health is especially beneficial for children with sensory problems .
Increasing dietary sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids can also enhance the health of nerve cells throughout the body, including the brain .
Magnesium in particular, plays a role in the transfer of electrical signals between the brain and the body; therefore, dietary supplementation with this mineral is particularly important [6, 7].
In conclusion, nutrition intervention for children with SPD or undiagnosed sensory issues involves providing them with a diet that supports nervous system function as this is the key to helping children process sensory input in an optimal manner.
My Spectrum Heroes™ is a line of dietary supplements designed to support a growing child’s brain health by feeding the developing nervous system. By addressing potential dietary deficits linked to suboptimal brain function,
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- Delgado-Lobete L, Pértega-Díaz S, et al. Sensory processing patterns in developmental coordination disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and typical development. Res Dev Disabil. 2020;100:103608.
- Carabotti M, Scirocco A, et al. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015;28(2):203-209.
- Lang M, du Plessis E. Sensory processing disorder: Perceptions on the clinical role of advanced psychiatric nurses. Health SA. 2019;24:1197.
- Clayton G, Carrera HA, Martin ER, Morrison D, Bawazir AA. A Biomedical Approach Via Telemedicine in the Treatment of a Child With Sensory Processing Disorder Using Diet and High-dose Biotin Intervention: A Case Report. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018;17(4):52-58.
- Sheridan PO, Bindels LB, et al. Can prebiotics and probiotics improve therapeutic outcomes for undernourished individuals? Gut Microbes. 2014; 5(1):74-82.
- Sartori SB, Whittle N, et al. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology. 2012;62(1):304-12.
- Langley WF, Mann D. Central nervous system magnesium deficiency. Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(3):593-6.