There are some deficiencies which can contribute to picky eating and even some sensory issues as well. So, before we go into some solutions I want to mention these and you can consult with a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor to address the possibility of a mineral or vitamin deficiency contributing to your child's lack of enthusiasm for veggies, meats or other nutritious offerings.
We have between 2000-8000 taste buds on our tongues and they are composed of 50-150 taste receptor cells that are clustered together. They identify the different tastes we encounter: salty, sweet, bitter, sour along with the strong taste of aged meats or cheese, this is called Umami. If these taste bud receptors are imbalanced then it can make certain foods less or more appealing. We want a variability in the number of taste buds so that we enjoy a wide variety of tastes.
Our sense of smell also contributes to our sense of taste. The two are very closely connected. The smell and taste buds belong to chemosensation, our chemical sensing system. Taste receptor and olfactory cells transmit message via neurons to the brain where smells and tastes are identified. If there is malfunction in the transmission of this signal then it can effect how food feels, smells and tastes. Amino acid deficiencies, ion abnormalities, cell membrane abnormalities, blockage of impulse transmission and cellular energy can effect these neurons. You need someone with a detailed understanding of the neurotransmitter system to help diagnose a problem, along with what to do to address the issue.
What is important to note about the neurons is that they depend on cellular energy for their function and this cycle requires minerals, B vitamins, COQ10, glutathione, NADPH and FADH to function properly. Zinc, in particular, is tied to taste changes and loss of appetite. This process is also very susceptible to heavy metal toxicity from aluminum, flouride, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and antimony. Variance levels of sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium can effect neuron transmission as well.
The complex interaction of sensory and muscular systems can create issues effecting eating as well. A properly trained and compassionate Occupational Therapist with a specialty in feeding issues can help address sensory issues that your child may be having regarding eating. Once you get these two systems working together, many times those picky habits start to vanish. Speech and Sensory Integrative therapist can also be of help in this area. Come back next week for some simple solutions!