Nutrition for PANS and PANDAS
The foods we eat can dramatically impact focus, moods, and energy for the better or for the worse.
How does diet impact PANS and PANDAS?
- PANS/PANDAS is an inflammatory condition. Unhealthy and processed foods cause inflammation which makes flares worse
- Processed foods are often high in calories but low in nutrients, often leading to nutrient deficiencies that interfere with optimal functioning
- Unhealthy foods are addictive, and can cause rapid fluctuations in neurotransmitters such as dopamine when they are eaten
- Processed foods can lead to wild swings in blood sugar, which lead to rapid changes in mood, focus, anxiety, and irritability
- Even healthy foods can increase inflammation if they are foods your child is sensitive to or if they are high histamine foods and your child has histamine intolerance
What are food allergies?
Food allergies can be severe, also called anaphylactic allergies, or more mild. The more severe allergies (like peanuts and shellfish) are mediated by fast acting IgE antibodies and can be life threatening. The less severe allergies, also called food sensitivities are mediated by slower to respond IgG or IgA antibodies. These antibodies produce a system-wide inflammatory response and can be associated with mental and neurological health conditions. This phenomenon is often associated with “leaky gut” in which micro-tears in the gut lining allow for particles of food that have not been completely digested to enter the bloodstream. Identification of offending foods can be accomplished by an elimination and challenge diet or by blood tests. Following a strict diet without the identified allergies for a period of 3-6 months accompanied by the use of homeopathy and other gut-healing therapies can greatly reduce the impact individual foods have on your mood.
What type of diet is best for PANS/PANDAS?
The exact type of foods that will be best for your child will vary based on his/her individual constitution. Generally speaking, a diet high in vegetables (especially dark leafy greens and bright colors), quality protein and healthy fats and low in sugar (including fruits) and processed foods will have most people feeling better. Individuals with specific health concerns may need to consider specialized therapeutic diets.
Do your doctors ever use nutritional supplements?
- High quality multivitamins/minerals. These can supplement for diets that are very restricted due to PANS/PANDAS. They may also be indicated even in a healthy diet because inflammation reduces the amount of nutrients you can absorb from your food.
- Fish oil. Omega-3s found in fish oil helps reduce inflammation and repairs a weakened nervous system and kidneys, both of which are impacted in PANS/PANDAS.
- Probiotics. Most kids with PANS/PANDAS have been on round after round of antibiotics that greatly disrupt their gut microbiome. Probiotics can help reduce inflammation, help restore ideal microbiome balance, increase nutrient absorption, and even make some nutrients on their own!