Season 3 Episode 10 of Quiet the Diet Podcast with Michelle Shapiro, RD and Jennifer Caryn Brand, RD
Gut Health for Kids and Improving Allergies, Skin and Sleep with Jennifer Caryn Brand, RD
In this episode, Michelle sits down with Jennifer Caryn Brand, a clinical nutritionist with a strong focus on helping children with chronic skin rashes. Jennifer is on a mission to help parents navigate the challenging world of children’s health, particularly when it comes to improving their eating habits, sleep routines, and addressing disruptive skin issues.
- How skin issues and behavioral disorders can be linked to imbalances in the gut microbiome [7:46]
- Why elimination diets and food restrictions are often not the answer [11:59]
- Auto-immune conditions and nutritional supplements for children [24:11]
- The liver’s three phases of detoxification [38:09]
- Jennifer’s recommendations to improve liver health [40:34]
- Where to start when incorporating more whole, organic foods [44:47]
Conquer Your Child’s Rashes For Good! Self-Paced Program: https://www.jennifercarynbrandnutrition.com/conquer-your-child-s-rashes-sign-me-up-self-paced
Conquer Your Child’s Rashes For Good! Live Program: https://www.jennifercarynbrandnutrition.com/online-group-program-general-info
Get started 1:1 with a strategy session: https://p.bttr.to/3z9jpTQ
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Gut Health for Kids and Improving Allergies, Skin and Sleep with Jennifer Caryn Brand, RD
I am joined today by my amazing colleague, Jennifer Caryn Brand. Jennifer, I have to say, the way we met was very funny, and I don’t know if you know why it’s funny.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:00:11]:
I’m not sure. Tell me.
I’m just so glad that we did.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:00:15]:
Meet, and I’m so glad to be here. So, yes, that’s how I feel, too.
So it was already a trick question to start with. That’s the way this is going to go today. I’m kidding. There was a time in 2020 when Clubhouse was this app where people it was in the blink of an eye, either you were on Clubhouse or you weren’t. And we met in a clubhouse room. It was like this app where, honestly, it was a lot of healthcare professionals at the time would come in and chat about topics, and it was like everyone was on a stage, basically. And we were all talking to each other, and we were in the same room talking and kind of venting about how elimination diets are not root cause medicine, basically. And we were, like, going off on how people just use elimination diets, which can be super helpful to treat things, but that there’s a lot more involved in that process. So I think the way we met was very funny and very makes a lot of sense, I would say, for how you operate as a practitioner. So for that reason, I’m very excited for you to be here today.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:01:10]:
Thank you. Well, I’m just thrilled to be here. And I do remember Clubhouse, and I don’t know what happened to Clubhouse now that you brought it up, but yes.
It was huge and important to all of us, and then it was just, like, gone. I think it still exists, but everyone just started leaving their house again, I think is what made the difference.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:01:30]:
I think so, yeah.
Jennifer, of course I’ll have introduced you, but I want you to introduce yourself and tell us how did you kind of come into the special work that you do and tell us about the special work that you do.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:01:40]:
Great. Well, my name is Jennifer Brand. I’m a clinical nutritionist. I have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. I have a master’s degree in public health. I have a master’s degree in human nutrition. I’m a certified nutrition specialist and a licensed dietitian nutritionist. I’ve been doing this work probably since about 2013, I would say. However, I’ve been specifically focused on kids for probably about the last six to seven years or so. And the focus in my practice, I work with children with chronic skin rashes and help them navigate the journey to healthy skin without more diet restrictions, without stronger prescription creams, and without more environment changes. And we do this by getting to the root cause of the problem, which is not food. I use functional testing in my practice, and once we understand what somebody’s root cause imbalances are, we can create a roadmap for them to help them navigate that journey to healthy skin where kids can eat more foods and expand their diet. I’m so passionate about that. So I’m really glad we’re going to talk about that today. But so expand their diets, they can sleep better, they can feel good in their skin and they can regain normalcy.
That’s probably some of the most important work that a person can do. So I just commend and thank you for that and I’m so glad that you made that transition seven years ago to exclusively working with children and I know you also are well versed in and have worked with kids with other autoimmunity gut conditions. And if there is a skin condition for a child as you’re going to of course tell us today, it is not only a skin condition. Skin is not only skin deep. Of course you’re looking at all of these other organs that we’re going to talk about when we talk about the skin. So the kind of current treatment that we see for skin conditions for kids is what, what do you see in the kind of allopathic conventional treatment when kids are coming to you and parents and kids are coming to you with conditions? What do you see them as having tried or what’s the conventional approach right now?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:03:39]:
Oh my gosh, they’ve tried everything. Of course, beginning with elimination diets, that’s a primary recommendation. Stronger and stronger prescription creams is another recommendation. Sorry, it’s my dog. Hey, edit that one. So stronger prescription creams, more foods out of the diet. And beyond that, a lot of parents start playing Dr. Google and they start trying to do it themselves. And so they go down the mold rabbit hole, they go down other environmental trigger rabbit holes, they start doing random things to try to detox their child, the list goes on. But by the time people find me, they literally have tried everything. I had one family and this was a number of years ago and this just goes to that point that people have tried everything. The one clear area this child had was their diaper area. So they literally wrapped their entire child in diapers at one point just trying to see if that would solve the problem. So really by the time people have found me, they have tried absolutely everything to solve the problem.
And again, the kind of idea it seems like is in the allopathic model is that skin interacts with the environment and the foods that we eat cause these skin issues. What’s your message around skin issues on this super high level about what you do actually believe causes skin issues?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:05:07]:
So what I find in my clinical practice, the primary root cause that I see particularly in children are imbalances in the gut microbiome. And one of the absolute biggest mistakes I see people making is going on these elimination diets and taking more and more foods out of the diet. Yeah, I’ll just start diving into that right now because just so important and I think this is one of the things I’m most passionate about people knowing, is that food is not the root cause of the problem. And a lot of people, like all of you listening, if you’ve noticed this, maybe you’ve taken some foods out of your child’s diet, maybe there have been some improvements. For a period of time, symptoms come back, oh, just need to take more foods out. You take more foods out, symptoms improve. For a period of time, things come back, oh, take more foods out. So it’s this really slippery slope of a continuously shrinking diet. So what’s really important to understand is that your child’s body runs off of nutrients from foods they eat. It’s fuel. It’s basically like not putting gas in your car, not charging your car, whatever type of car you have nowadays. It’s like not fueling your car and expecting it to run. I mean, it’s not going to. Right? So you have children on these ever shrinking diets and our bodies run off of nutrients from foods we eat. So when those nutrients are missing, the body’s not going to have all the fuel it needs to do grow, develop, function, thrive, let alone build and repair healthy skin. And children pound for pound because their bodies are doing so much, and at a healing journey, they’re doing even more, have a huge metabolic need greater than we do compared to adults. And so if you think about it, you have these shrinking diets, less and less fuel, and you’re expecting healing and it’s not going to happen. And more often than not, when clients come into my practice, one of the first things that we do is work on getting off that elimination diet and incorporating foods back into the diet. And just that alone, people start to see improvements. And what I find is happening are these imbalances in the gut microbiome. So that can be gut dysbiosis. So we’re talking about abnormal gut flora, overgrowths or undergrowth of the good stuff, stuff we don’t want in there, problems with digestion and absorption. 70% to 80% of the immune system is located in the gut microbiome. So when we have these imbalances in there, it starts to impact a huge chunk of the immune system. And when we’re talking about inflammatory health conditions, certainly like eczema, for example, which is driven by underlying inflammation, you have to look at where the bulk of that is happening, the bulk of that dysfunction immune system. Dysfunction takes us back to the gut again, that’s 70% to 80%. And so what’s happening with these food reactions is that when we have these imbalances in there, we start to get some inflammation and irritation. And so the gut lining is really thin. It’s like one cell layer thick. So you can kind of think of it like this. And when we start to get that irritation and inflammation, you get this. So this is that gut hyperpermeability or that leakiness. So when this is happening, we get food particles that get out into the bloodstream. This is triggering the immune system, which is then triggering the rashes and flares. So yes, food particles can be causing this. The other thing that’s really important to understand, it’s not just food particles that are getting out into the bloodstream, it’s toxins from all these gut microbes, right? And so another thing that I find super fascinating is that peak die off. So digestion alone creates a die off of the microbes in there. Peak die off occurs a few hours after eating. So this is where if we’re talking about those food sensitivities, like those IgG reactions, right, those are delayed by a few hours after a meal. Is it the food? Is it the gut microbe toxins? So it could be either. And both are starting to trigger the immune system. And this is where we get those reactions. And something else that I think is really important for folks to understand is that the gut is not leaky like this because of the food sensitivities. The food sensitivities are happening because the gut is leaky. And the gut is leaky because of those imbalances, which is why we keep.
Saying the same sentence, which is that food is not the root cause, it’s the environment with which the food is going into. That is the root cause. And then that is going to cause the reaction with the food intolerance in the first place. So this is really something that I think we have to just kind of bring home for people, especially when it comes to the most precious people in our lives, our children. Like the most precious people. Taking a bunch of foods out of the diet is not going to solve an underlying issue. And the way I think of it is, let’s say even in a case of a gluten intolerance, which is a true gluten intolerance. Not one of those food sensitivity tests, which we can definitely talk about, by the way. But a true gluten intolerance someone has. If their body again is reacting to gluten in that way, let’s say it’s creating some sort of either an immune or gut response every single time. If that’s causing the leaky gut to happen, taking gluten out may reduce that reaction. But what’s going to help heal the fact that lining of that gut is already disrupted in a different visual way? If there was a battle kind of being fought and there was a battleground and then the battle ends, the battlegrounds themselves still need repair, right? So you still have to go in there and repair. And I think a lot of people are very quick, like you’re saying with children especially, let me cut these foods out and the reaction will stop. But you still have to go in and do the healing part. Which I think is where you so beautifully come in, Jennifer. And I think that’s why we go so crazy about elimination diets, because they do not fix the issue. They may just stop irritating the issue for the time being. And what are some other risks of elimination diets? Like, for instance, for children specifically, I’m assuming microbial diversity and food diversity is extremely important. What other risks of elimination diets do you see?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:11:09]:
Yeah, I mean, absolutely the way that we help support and grow a healthy gut microbiome is with diet diversity, right? And so elimination diets do start to interfere with that. And then, of course, I’ve seen children way younger than anybody wants to believe, starting to develop unhealthy relationships with food, fear of food, disordered eating habits, and again, that lack of nourishment that they need to grow and develop. So more often than not, also, once kids in my practice do start getting better, nourished, some of the other things that are reported, not only does the skin start to improve, but the child is growing better. They’re developing. They look healthier, they look stronger, their hair is growing, their nails are growing. So those are things that I hear all the time as well. So it’s really exciting to see these positive benefits just alone from starting to expand somebody’s diet again. And of course, we should differentiate too, right? So we are talking about food sensitivities, which are those IgG food reactions versus like because then we also have your Ige, which are the allergies. And so if your child does have Ige allergies, that can be life threatening. So definitely work with your doctor and your practitioner about what needs to be kept out for safety reasons. And many times, too, though I do have a lot of parents that are terrified to introduce the common allergens, it is really important to introduce the allergens as long as there’s not an existing Ige allergy to them. So definitely work with your practitioner, with your doctor on what is important to keep out versus what is important to keep in, because you can start to run the risk of developing. The risk is greater for developing an Ige allergy if certain foods, those foods are kept out of the diet unnecessarily. And I should say, too, that a mechanism for the development of Ige is also that gut hyperpermeability as well as having a broken skin barrier in the first place.
Which means that allergies even Ige are not inherently completely genetic, which is something that I think is very controversial to even say. But it is also scientifically true that they are not exclusively genetic. They would always, almost always be epigenetic. Is that true for skin conditions in general that you’re seeing?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:13:38]:
Too I find that to be the case. So we all have wonky genes of some sort, right? Like we all just do based on genetics or environmental things that trigger our genes. So we all have wonky genes that either get turned on or they don’t. So somebody might be more predisposed to having allergies or eczema or other skin conditions, but it doesn’t mean that somebody else or a child is going to get those conditions. I have a family rich in skin issues. My dad has psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. My mom has vitiligo. My brother even has psoriasis. So I definitely have these genes knock on something. I haven’t experienced severe skin issues like that. I do have allergies, I do get hives. So I do have some of those genes. But it really is these environmental triggers that the genes are kind of the gun, right? And then it’s like pulling the trigger are these different external factors and then a huge external factor or it’s actually an internal factor. But a huge factor that plays a role in this is having that gut hyperpermobility and those gut imbalances because that is a huge source of underlying inflammation. And it’s that inflammation that starts triggering the body to react adversely to anything in the environment that could potentially be triggering. Yes.
So again, it’s not the laundry detergent. It’s the fact that your constitution now is not tolerating the laundry detergent or something like very first of all, you answer my first question that my sister asked, my sister Jennifer asked me to ask you, which is should we be introducing those foods earlier on? Because that’s something that’s actually that is also controversial. There’s like different periods of time in society where sometimes doctors will say don’t introduce it early, know, try never to have peanuts or anything like that. You actually think it’s important to introduce those foods earlier on and early introduction can help with a better immune response in the long term.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:15:36]:
Absolutely. And the newer research and even physicians nowadays are recommending to introduce those allergens again as long as there is an existing allergy to them when the child starts eating solid. So around six months of age and as well when mom is nursing, keeping those foods in her diet. Additionally, to really help expose the child to those allergens early on to be.
Not that controversial, but to just open up this god, I keep using that word. I know we’re talking about kids. It’s big stuff. Do you see or understand the merits of breastfeeding specifically when it comes to skin conditions and autoimmunity? Is that something that you’ve researched or seen any tie between especially or if people cannot breastfeed for many reasons, which is of course everyone’s choice and everyone’s ability and whatever they want to do with different formulas or different things like that? Are there studies that show kind of the difference between those things and what can develop skin wise?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:16:41]:
So, I mean, breast is always best. So if you can do that, that’s the way to go. If that’s not possible, then of course work with your physician. I always recommend working with a pediatrician or your dietitian about what kind of formula is best for your child. It is really tricky with kids, with skin reactions, with allergies, because I do see very often that moms are it’s recommended that they stop nursing and get the child on formula. Again. By the time people find me, I have a lot of moms who have stopped nursing just because somebody has given them that advice and that the child is now on formula. And you know what? They still have rashes. They still have allergies. So it doesn’t solve the problem. So the issue is not your milk moms out there. That’s not the problem. It’s the immune system. And your child is struggling with immune system dysfunction and that’s what needs to be addressed. Again, breast is best. So if you can nurse, that’s the way to go. And it’s just really unfortunate if you have to use a formula, you do, and that’s totally fine.
There’s nothing wrong, no judgment, no judgment whatsoever.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:17:50]:
I was a formula fed baby. It’s totally fine. Yeah, but just looking at the ingredients like some of the popular ones out there that are most often recommended, the first ingredient is corn syrup. And it just makes me nuts and it makes me so sad that we have to go down that route again. If that’s what it needs to be, that’s what it needs to be, and that’s fine. But breast always is best if you can do that.
Just because I think there is decent amounts of research, or some would say an abundant amount of research, that of course breastfeeding does confer benefits for gut microbiome and the immune system as a result. So that being said, it is not possible for everyone. There’s not an ounce of judgment coming from either of us. And it’s just a good thing to explore and think about for people, too. So it’s interesting because we’re talking about elimination diets and how we don’t want to kind of cut out entire food groups and what the risks of that can potentially be for people. But we’re also at a weird point in time, Jennifer, because I’ll give you an example. I love my mother. My nephew is almost eleven months old. In a week he’s going to be eleven months old. And my mother, who is an extremely good grandmother and extremely loving person, is always asking me, can he eat this? Can he eat this? But it’s usually more along the lines of some processed foods and things like that. And I’m like, since right now we have kind of control over what he can eat, but we will not have that control in the future. Let’s just give him whole unprocessed foods. When you’re saying introduce foods into the diet, are you including, hey, they should eat everything that’s in the kind of American diet because that’s what’s kind of societally acceptable and it’ll help them to develop better immunity and things? Or are you talking about a specific type of food to include? It’s a very tricky question, and I’m sorry for it.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:19:42]:
No, that’s a really good question. So when I’m talking about introducing foods, of course I’m talking about a healthy, whole, real foods diet, right? I do want to see kids and kids in my practice, once we get in there and are able to do that internal work and resolve those internal imbalances so kids can tolerate things better. I want to see kids eat the cake, the ice cream, the cookies, all of the fun stuff at birthday parties, on holidays, right? So we’re not talking about a standard American diet. So when I’m talking about getting off an elimination diet, I really am talking about whole, real foods. And by the time most people find me, they are on totally restrictive diets, like they’ve done Gaps diet and all of the super restrictive ones low histamine low this, low that, taking this, that, and the other out of the diet. So it’s more about adding in those healthy, whole, real foods, which I really do advocate for keeping the diet as full of those as possible. And when it is, then there’s plenty of room for some treats here and there. But standard American diet, absolutely not that’s inflammatory. But at the same time, including foods from all food groups, categories of foods, and some fun foods. All food is fun, but some treats here and there, keeping in mind, of course, that, like, sugar, for example, is inflammatory. Gluten actually can be inflammatory. Do kids in my practice, once we do the internal work and start healing up what’s happening? Can they eat these things? Yes, they can. Should they be staples in the diet? No, they should not. And I feel like that’s kind of obvious, right? Like, if you’re somebody who’s eating your child’s, eating pizza and mac and cheese and things like that every day, that’s something to look at. Right? We need to get those veggies and fruits and healthy sources of protein and healthy fats in the diet primarily in order for your child to heal. And then there’s room for some fun foods in addition to that.
Yeah, it’s definitely like a constant little fight in my household. And I see this with a lot of my friends and their parents, grandparents and things like that, because it’s not restriction. If it’s within the realm of you’re still eating whole foods, right. You’re not restricting your child because they’re eating there’s a million different types of foods that we can eat within that realm. And of course, when it’s a special occasion or something like that, it’s good to eat what I would say almost like a little dirty, like eating foods that are not what you would consider to be like those whole foods, but when they become the main constituent of the diet that actually can ultimately be potentially damaging and lead to these exact conditions we’re talking about, it wouldn’t be the root cause. Still. It still wouldn’t be the root cause, but it definitely can exacerbate underlying issues or pull that trigger, like we said on that epigenetic metaphor we had. And so I did want to clarify that because there’s a distinction there. And I know that people will say, I don’t want my kid to have restrictions, but there is a difference between having eating a majority whole foods diet, obviously, and not yeah, absolutely.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:22:49]:
And I should add, too, there is research that shows certain foods can contribute to gut hyperpermeability and increase that leakiness. There are not whole real foods on that list, by the way. So gluten absolutely can contribute to gut hyperpermeability. And then in addition to that, it’s processed foods and things that are in processed foods. So like trans glutamase things and nanoparticles. And it was this research paper, right, and it was like an extra added salt, added sugar. What are these things in baked goods? Processed foods. So it’s the way that foods are processed. It’s these additives, these ingredients that can contribute to gut hyperpermeability, but whole real foods in and of themselves don’t do that.
I always think a good way to know if I’m kind of restricting something or not is I always think, like, did this food come from a lab or did this food come from a farm? And if it can be an animal that’s grazing on the farm or swimming in the ocean, you kind of are led in the right direction. Those foods should, like you’re saying, not be restricted. That’s really important to not restrict all of those foods, and there’s an abundance of them. But I do think it’s okay to not introduce the highly processed foods into the diet early on. And that would lead me to kind of this bigger, more like philosophical question I have for you. Do you think that we’re having an increase in autoimmunity and skin conditions, even in children, if we were to compare it maybe from 50 years ago or something like that?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:24:22]:
Oh, absolutely. And there was a research paper I saw not that long ago that noted that our wheat, just like our wheat crops nowadays, because they’ve been so modified, have 40% more gluten in them than they did like when our grandparents were eating these foods. So the way the food has been processed and just changed over the years has really destroyed our food system, which contributes to destroying our immune system and all of this processing as well, and just our environment in general has changed the soil, right? So plant foods, all of this grows in the soil, and animals eat those plant foods, then we eat the animals and the plant foods. And so because of what’s happened with agriculture and environment, our soil is depleted of nutrients and as well as full of toxins. So we’re getting more and more of these things into our bodies over the years and over time and genetically or from an evolutionary perspective, evolution is really slow. Our bodies can’t handle this onslaught of the junk that’s coming at us from the environment. So yes, we have a lot of children, generations of children now that have more issues with autoimmunity and the skin issues and the behavioral issues and all of that. And it really is the environment that’s playing a big role.
And would you say it is possible or hopeful that we can protect ourselves from this environment or repair from this environment that we’re living in which seems incongruent with human health?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:26:02]:
I think we can. I think a lot of education is necessary. I don’t think in our lifetimes we’re going to be able to change what’s happened. Right. And the system is going to continue to spin and do what it’s doing and get worse. I mean, it just is. And I think the best thing that we can do is educate ourselves and learn what we can do to better support our immune function, our gut health, our overall health for us, for our children. And I do find, I do use a lot of supplements in my practice. And we need to start with food. You can’t out supplement a diet that’s lacking in the first place, but because our food is so much more devoid of nutrients than it used to be, I do find that nutrient supplementation is an important part of the process and I think it’s going to become more and more important in years to come.
Yeah, this is another kind of debate I see with people is like if you’re eating a whole diet, you should not need nutritional supplements. And I’m like, well, there is no such thing really as a whole diet anymore because we don’t have the nutrients available in food. And our demand for those nutrients within our body as we exist in this environment is too high for our needs so oftentimes, I know as adults, many of us will need some nutritional supplements for life. To be honest with you. Are there ones that you think almost every single kid is going to need? Are there any supplements that you feel like they’re just not going to get this from food?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:27:29]:
Yeah, absolutely. And I find in particular on a healing journey, and in particular on a skin healing journey, protein is of the utmost importance. And the guidelines that we see out there for how much protein is needed are really to prevent deficiency for all nutrients. Really? Like if you look up the RDAs, right, this is not for optimal functioning, for growth, development, for healing. These numbers that you see are for preventing deficiency.
So we are way beyond right, medical need, intervention deficiency. We’re talking about like serious deficiency.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:28:05]:
Exactly. And so one of the things that I encourage my clients to do and protein is like one of the first nutrients I start talking to my clients about. It’s like, look up. Just do a Google search. Nutrients Needed for Wound Healing Because we’re talking about healing what’s happening on the skin, and you will see how much higher the RDAs are for protein and for all other nutrients. So protein super important. Have a source of protein with each meal. Add a protein powder in addition to that. So I do increase protein levels in my clients. Another super important category of nutrients that I really encourage folks to get in antioxidants. Those come from a variety of vegetables and fruits. When we’re talking about chronic skin rashes, certainly like eczema, underlying inflammation is a driver. We get inflammation when we have oxidative stress. We get oxidative stress when we don’t have enough antioxidant nutrients to combat that. Antioxidant nutrients are found in vegetables and fruits. A lot of these things are either excluded from the diet, picky eating or elimination diets or what have you. So it’s like we’ve got to increase protein. We’ve got to increase veggies and fruits. We’ve got to work on picky eating if that’s an issue, and we’ve really got to get these nutrients in. So from a supplementation standpoint, again, I do recommend protein powders collagen antioxidant nutrients. Vitamin C is super important, not just as an antioxidant. It also helps collagen build skin. It’s important for the body’s stress response. It’s actually a natural antihistamine as well. So vitamin C is a big one that I have people get in depending on the age of the child, usually like a year and up. I might start even with a multivitamin. And then of course, we always talk about gut supplements. I think that everybody should be doing a probiotic. I highly recommend spore based probiotics over bacterial strains unless we know what’s happening in the gut. Because, for example, a lot of people will just start with a probiotic, a bacterial strain. Well, some bacterial strains produce histamine, which if your child is itchy and we can go down so many rabbit holes. Okay, so the itch that comes along with eczema more often than not is not related to histamine. However, if your child is itchy, I still would recommend being careful because some bacterial strain probiotics increase levels of histamine. And so that can exacerbate the problem. And also unless we’ve done Comprehensive Digestive stool testing, and I do recommend professional grade and Comprehensive Digestive stool testing, which is very different than something you can get out there by yourself. I won’t mention any test names here, but you guys, depending on when you’re listening to this, whatever’s popular on the market, if you can get it yourself, I would steer away from it and go for the professional grade. It makes a difference. But until we know what’s happening in the gut, like, if your child has high levels of good stuff in there, you don’t really want to add a prebiotic necessarily or a bacterial strain probiotic. So I always recommend spore based probiotics. Certainly until we know what’s happening in there. They survive gut acidity better, they are better at repopulating the gut, and they actually have more longevity in there compared to bacterial strains. But so I would say they’re probably like those are some of the primary important supplements that I recommend. My clients and I usually do an immunoglobulin, which is sort of like a dairy free colostrum, but a colostrum supplement is always a good way to go additionally, and there’s a slew of others, but I think those are some of the important basics that I would recommend.
And this would be not only for kids who have skin conditions, but you’re thinking many kids could probably benefit or need these supplements as well.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:31:48]:
Yeah, absolutely. And the way I look at it, too, so there’s kind of a progression when we have any sort of chronic inflammatory health condition. Gut issues are a root cause of that. And if you kind of think about it this way, like if your child does have silent reflux or has been put on PPIs or something like that for reflux, whatever that might be. So if they’re gut issues, right, so that’s kind of how it starts in some people. But some people, a lot of my clients with skin rashes don’t have any gut symptoms at all, but that’s still an underlying cause. But it’s sort of like gut issues. And then skin issues are a more severe presentation of gut issues with or without gut symptoms. And then beyond that, we start getting into the behavioral issues and the spectrum disorders, and that’s even a more severe presentation of what’s happening in the gut. So these types of interventions and looking at what’s happening in the gut really apply across the board to any sort of chronic inflammatory issue that children, people in general might be living with. The way I look at it, too, it’s like if you’re working with and I always recommend, like, I am not a doctor, this does not take the place of medical advice, right? This does not take the place of medical advice. Always talk to your doctor. But if you’re working with your doctor and basically on medications to manage symptoms, that really is an opportunity to figure out what’s happening under the surface, like taking a look under the hood. Because when conventional medicine is able to manage symptoms, that means there are internal imbalances that we can start to resolve to help get more relief for whatever the problem might be.
Totally. And again, what’s I think really important underneath what you’re saying is it’s okay to also have symptom management and utilize tools from your doctor for symptom management. But like you said beautifully, it’s an opportunity to dig deeper. There’s no judgment for using those tools. Of course you have to give symptom relief to your kids, but that’s when you can actually start looking under the surface too and seeing, what can we do to reverse these conditions? And that’s what you’re talking about.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:34:02]:
You’re not talking about managing skin conditions. You’re talking about whenever and wherever possible, reversing them.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:34:08]:
Absolutely. And something and I’m glad that you said that because I want to make this clear, too, that a lot of my clients do use steroid medications while we’re doing this work, and then over time, they’re able to use them less and less and less as we start to resolve those internal imbalances. They’re not needed as the skin starts to heal. So there’s absolutely no judgment that’s what the medications are for. Like, the way I look at them, they’re for getting over the hump, getting through those tough patches on your child’s healing journey. They’re not, in my mind, for long term use, because that can be problematic. But if you need them to get over the hump, that’s what they’re there for. Your child does not need to struggle and suffer while we’re doing this work because it’s not an overnight process.
So this is an interesting and toughie piece of the conversation I want to talk about. Too which is the protein piece. It shouldn’t be tough, but it’s going to be a little tough in a second. I think we covered a lot about the gut relationship between our skin. I also want to talk about another accessory organ of digestion that you love and talk about all the time, which is our liver. Too and saying that some of the antioxidant oxidant capacity of our liver, what is necessary for that to create glutathione is actually eating protein. A lot of people who I would assume parents who have children with skin conditions may consider the ultimate elimination diet being something clean, like having a vegan or vegetarian diet for their children. Can we speak about what your thoughts are on that and talk a little bit more after that about detoxification and the liver and how that’s related to all of this?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:35:49]:
Too absolutely. And I’m sorry, if we can pause for a second, my dog is eating something that she should not.
Go ahead. You know what? It’s good.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:36:01]:
Sorry. She was barking, so I threw a pen at her, and she’s now been eating the pen. Okay, we are good. So sorry.
I took a little bath break.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:36:11]:
Too it’s good. I only sitting for that long. It was a perfect little break. And I hope your dog’s okay. Most important. Oh, my God. So sorry. Okay, sorry for stop it.
It’s your dog.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:36:25]:
Because I usually go through this, and nobody ever has to edit, so I’m.
Like, anyway, editing crew, they’re going to be happy to edit.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:36:33]:
Don’t worry. I know you got to give them something to do. She’s a puppy. I’ve had her for two months, so I’m just like, oh, my God. Okay, so we’re going to do liver vegan, and I want to exactly.
We’re going to do start wherever you want.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:36:45]:
Okay, good. Okay.
Oh, you want me to ask it again or you roll. Go.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:36:53]:
Okay, great question. And this is one of those areas, too, where I see people making some of the biggest mistakes when trying to heal their child’s skin is thinking about how the liver functions in an inappropriate way, number one. So the way the liver functions, we’ve got let’s just talk about it in phases. So essentially there’s like three phases to kind of make it just let’s simplify it, right? So phase one, things are filtered out of the bloodstream. The liver filters them out of the bloodstream and does some processing. And then sometimes that’s enough. And then they go to the gut, they get excreted, they go to the kidneys, they get peed out. And when we’re talking about the gut, right, we’re going to poop these things out. Some toxins become more toxic and need to go to phase two. So between phases one and two, there are antioxidant nutrients to help neutralize the toxins because they’re more toxic and they can create more inflammation. And so then things go to phase two, where they get packaged up really neatly and then also sent to the gut so they can get excreted or pooped out. So phase one, the way I think about it, runs more heavily, like on vitamins and minerals, for example. Then in the middle, we get these antioxidants. And then phase two, we need a lot of amino acids, do that packaging of things. And so this is another area where the diet needs to be as broad as possible to get those nutrients in. And certainly we need enough protein because amino acids come from protein rich foods. And something else that I think is really important to understand is that when we’re talking about protein sources, so we’ve got these amino acids, right, we’ve got our essentials, which means they have to come from the diet because the body can’t make them. We have conditionally essentials, which the body can usually make. But times of stress or like when we’re chronic inflammation, certainly struggling with health issues, certainly struggling with chronic skin rashes, the body might not be able to make them. So we need to get those from the diet too, which means they become essential. And then once we get all of those essentials and conditionally essentials, the body can make the others. Now, animal proteins are complete, which means they contain all of the essentials. And conditionally essentials, plant proteins generally are not complete, so they don’t contain all of those. So if you are relying on plants to get all of your protein needs, it is harder to make that happen. So I do encourage my clients to get in healthy sources of animal proteins if they’re on a plant based diet, we can always add like amino acid supplements and something of that nature to help. But the liver really functions off of nutrients from the diet, and that is super important. Again, to make sure that the diet is as broad as possible to make sure all of those things are included. And something else, too. Like a lot of people will go for supplements like milk thistle or other herbal supplements, which there can be a time and a place for interventions like that. But the other thing to consider is a lot of those interventions will push phase two or phase one faster, which can create more toxins. And then if we’re backed up in phase two, that’s going to create more inflammation and more toxic load. And some of the biggest backups and problems that I see with detox are if your child’s constipated, right? So those toxins aren’t getting out. And constipation. Like if you’re not pooping, if your child’s not pooping at least once a day, that’s constipation. So things need to come out. If your child’s not drinking enough water, once your child starts eating solids, they can start having some sips of water. But at one year age and up, you should be drinking at least one eight ounce glass of water per year of age, which is tricky for a lot of kids. A lot of kids don’t like to drink water. But so hydration, making sure that your child is pooping at least once a day, super important. Making the diet as broad as possible, super important to get in all of those vitamins and minerals, the antioxidants, the amino acids to help the liver function. So the liver functions off of all of this nutrition. And again, there might be a time and a place for supplements to help with that, but you can’t out supplement a diet that’s lacking in the first place and then trying to cleanse your child or things like that’s. Not how the liver functions. When people ask me about juicing, if you look at it from the perspective, so I want to say, no, juicing is not going to help the liver. But if you’re juicing like a bunch of veggies, well, those are antioxidant nutrients. So, okay, but that’s not exactly how the liver functions.
I know. It’s so interesting how juicing became this ultimate detox trend when I’m like, but you’re removing so many nutrients from the diet when you’re juicing that the liver won’t be able to do the actual job of detoxing, which is the thing that is detoxing. I think people think detoxing is drainage, which is more about like in their head hydration, but it’s really about getting enough nutrients to get things moving along when it comes to the liver, for sure. I completely agree with you. Which is why, of course, if people are vegan or vegetarian for ethical reasons and their child or religious reasons or their child, they just have to be extremely careful with supplementation to make sure, even with no conditions, to make sure that there is no deficiencies of many of the essential vitamins and minerals. So it’s just something worth mentioning, I think, for children in general, because we were told for a very long time that vegan and vegetarian diets are healthier. They’re heart healthier, they’re better. But there’s some nutrients that are so essential for brain development in young children that you have to be really on your feet if you are adopting a vegan, vegetarian diet, which, again, there’s no arguing moral or religious or ethical reasons at all. But for health reasons, it’s not one that I would recommend in most cases for children.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:42:52]:
Absolutely. And I totally agree with that now.
In ways of this kind of first of all, thank you for that liver detox explanation. I loved it, and it was so necessary. And thank you for going through our phases. Beautiful when it comes to children. And again, eating in the home, so not like if we’re at a birthday party, special occasions. How important do you feel for skin conditions, for gut conditions, autoimmunity consuming organic food is versus non organic food for children specifically. What do you feel about that?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:43:23]:
That’s a good question. So I do think it’s important to go organic where you can it is more expensive. Total transparency. I don’t do organic all the time. I do it when it’s convenient. I do it when okay, I have a little extra.
It’s a two month old puppy. It’s a puppy. This is what happens.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:43:47]:
She’s been so good, like, for two months. Ruby, stop it.
She wanted to talk to us on the podcast today. She wants her time in the spotlight. That’s all that it is.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:43:58]:
Play with us. Stop. Come here. It’s okay, sweetie. I know. I’m sorry I’m yelling at you, but you got to calm down, okay? Thank you for guarding the house anyway. Okay, so, in total transparency, I do not go organic all the time. I do think it’s important when we can go organic that we do. In particular, organic animal products can be more helpful. That is true. And additionally, what I recommend to my clients is to check out the Environmental Working Group has a couple of lists. They have the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen. So when you’re looking at produce, I would recommend checking that out. And what that tells you is which produce is more important to buy organic versus not. So especially if you’re on a budget that can give you a little guidance of which way to go. But generally, I would say if you can go organic, grass fed, pastured, free range, all that kind of stuff for your meat products, your animal products, that is preferred, and it can be healthier. But again, knowing that not everybody can do that. And so I would rather see those products getting in in whatever form, even if they’re not the organic ones, than not. I don’t want to see people avoid animal products because they’re not organic. I think the amino acids and the other nutrients that are provided in them are more important to get in, even if they’re not organic.
I agree. And I think that it’s not only from a place of non judgment, but quite literally getting those nutrients in is more valuable than the non nutritive qualities that you might be picking up from them. I totally get that, too. If you had a child with a skin condition and you were not ready to work with a practitioner, you wanted to try something on your own, let’s say, even though you just found Jennifer, everyone, so now you have the person to go to. You’re the person that I send literally all my friends kids to. I’m like, go to Jennifer quick. Is there somewhere people can start at home? Because I know the inclination is let me cut these foods out, let me change my laundry detergent, let me stock up on all these ointments and everything. Where’s like, the first place? If it was know your kid, Jennifer, where’s the first place you would start?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:46:17]:
Well, actually, that’s a really good question. I have an online program now that people can start at any point. I recently launched this, as a matter of fact. And so what it is, is it goes through. I have a live group program that’s actually currently running right now at the time we’re doing this recording. And I run that a couple of times a year. And so I do have a process in my practice that I take my clients through. And because it’s been super successful and I know not everybody can work with me one on one, and I wanted to give people a way to get started sooner and at a lower price and all that good stuff. So my process and this is what I teach in the live group program and now also in this one that’s available all the time. So the steps are we’ve got to ditch the itch, right? So we’ve got to talk about skin barrier management and skin barrier function, not just to help get relief for what’s happening on the skin. And this is like really step one, because when people find me and if your child is struggling with rashes, one of the most debilitating the problematic issues is the lack of sleep and the itch and the pain and the weeping and the bleeding and what’s happening topically. So we’ve got to find ways to get that under control and get your child some relief up front. Skin barrier function is also really important to address up front because a broken skin barrier is a mechanism for the development of Ige allergies, both food and environmental. So we talk about ways to protect and support the skin barrier. Then we go into nourish where we talk all about some of the things that we’ve been talking about today, expanding the diet, how to do that, why taking foods out is problematic, and what to do instead. Then we do talk about immune function, right? So some of the things, again, we talked about today, like, how do we lower that inflammation, what are strategies to do that? What do you need to know about that for your child? What foods are really important, what nutrients are lacking that are those antioxidant nutrients and foods that they’re in so we can start combating that inflammation. We go over detoxification, right? So we do talk more about liver health and how to appropriately support detoxification so that those toxins can get out. We go over things like mold and if that’s an issue for your child and MTHFR and so many other things that people start thinking about when it comes to detoxification. We dive deep into the gut. I show people comprehensive digestive stool test analyses. I do walk throughs and explain how I look at these through the eyes of somebody that works with only with children, only children with chronic skin rashes and what we need to address gut. So it’s this process. So anyway, so I do have a program that addresses all of these aspects that people can join at any time. And it’s self paced, so they can do this at home. So that is something available to people. And I would say primarily, though, aside from that, if you’re at home listening to this, number one, stop taking foods out of the diet unnecessarily. That’s it. That would be the primary thing. If you can’t tell or aren’t sure if a food is causing a problem, it’s not the food. Leave it in the diet. You’ll know, if your child eats a food and you can pinpoint a reaction, then it makes sense to keep it out while you’re working on addressing the root cause of the problem. But if you can’t tell which I find is the case, for the most part with most people that I talk to add it back in.
I think this is such a safe space for parents to be who must feel so overwhelmed and fearful during this time. Like your baby’s not sleeping because of the it’s the worst feeling in the world, I’m sure. So that is I’m so happy of this group membership now, too. What I love so much about your approach, Jennifer, and what I love about functional Medicine in general and functional nutrition so much is that I think what you’re doing is really demystifying autoimmune conditions in children and skin conditions. In children because it seems like if it’s kids and they’re so young and skin seems so mysterious, I think you demystify it so much for people and just say, like, no, we can literally show you what’s going on. I can show you on this test exactly what’s going on, exactly what’s happening. And there’s always steps you can take to move forward as opposed to it just being this is their lifelong condition or this is just something that’s going to go away. It’s very tangible and actionable. What I think you do with people and really evidence based. And that feels so safe for me from a child perspective, to know and this has been true even for referrals I give you, I’m like, oh, I have the spot for you now because I think you leverage the power of medicine to make something that feels so overwhelmingly mysterious and scary, really tangible and understandable.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:51:10]:
Yeah. Thank you. And one of my goals, too, is to create a space. I think, like, so many of us in this field or have had our own health issues that we’ve had to resolve because we’ve felt that we’ve been failed by the conventional system, right? And so something that really is important for me to provide in my practice is that safe space. And I want parents to know that there is a better way. It does not have to be this way. Your child can eat more foods, they can sleep better, which means you can too. They can feel good in their skin. They can have a childhood free from their disruptive skin. You know, the programs that, you know, we have like, a Facebook community and just these different ways to connect parents with each other so that they don’t feel so alone. And it’s just really been such a blessing. And I just feel so grateful to do this work and to be bringing in so many people into my practice that really can benefit, not just because their child’s skin is healing. But I’ve had parents tell me, too, like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe and I’m so grateful to just have this environment, this safe space where I can voice how I’m feeling, where I realize now that I’m not alone because, oh, my gosh, I had a mom. Her child had a very severe allergic reaction. This was last week, and they’re not sure exactly what happened, but it was an EpiPen ambulance ride to the hospital, and she was telling me, like, the next day she was at the supermarket and she’s reading labels, right? Reading labels. She’s like, oh, my God, he can’t eat this. And she was watching and I hadn’t even thought about this this way, but she was watching other parents just throw things into their cart, just throw foods into their cart. And she lost it at the supermarket because just the anxiety around having to read every single label and watching other parents just throw things into their cart because they didn’t have that concern. And that just I lost it, too, when I was talking to her about it. And so just to have a safe space where parents can connect and feel like they’re not alone is so important. And that’s something that I also like to provide to people as well.
It’s one of the most important aspects of healing, is that community piece. And it can feel like, again, the most precious person in your life who feels like you are responsible for their health. And to not have that pathway forward to then have people you can share that experience with and not feel alone is so important. So I thank you for that. And now we know that that’s one amazing pathway people can work with you. Do you still take clients one on one as well?
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:53:50]:
I do, yeah. So I’ve got the group program that I mentioned, which again, it’s like just open. People can join anytime there is a Facebook group with that, there is the ability to ask your personalized questions too, even though it’s sort of this online group program. Then the other program I mentioned, it’s similar, but there’s a live component that runs twice a year. Next time is going to be April 2024. And then, yes, I do work with one on one clients as well. So that’s always an option and always an open opportunity for people, too.
And I will include every single one of those links in the show notes. Jennifer, I cannot thank you enough for coming on today, for bringing hope and demystifying this for parents, the most important people ever and their most important people ever. Thank you so much for the work that you do. I will continue to send you hordes of clients as they come my way and go, nope, sending you to my child skin expert, Jennifer Brand. Thank you so much for coming on today.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:54:42]:
Thank you so much for having me. It’s really just been great being here. Thank you.
And we can rant about elimination diets in another clubhouse forum. Now we have it on the podcast. We’ve done our proper elimination diet ranting and that’s what’s most important. Thank you. Agreed.
Jennifer Caryn Brand [00:54:58]: