There is mounting evidence from research that proper nutrition may be a cornerstone in autism therapy.
Just as autism can take on the look of a cluster of symptoms, its cause can be attributed to several factors such as genetics, environment, and, after much research, possibly nutrition.
Nutritional therapy can go a long way in reversing many of the effects or symptoms of autism.
Given that many autistic children suffer from irregular digestion, a major part of nutrition therapy consists in restoring balance in the gut.
Other aims include – restoring balance to blood sugar levels, eliminating dangerous heavy metals from the system if they exist, identifying and tackling food allergies and nutritional deficiencies and ensuring the intake of adequate amounts of essential fats like Omega-3.
The belief that a proper diet can help in autism therapy goes back a while, but it is only recently that nutritional therapy has actually been backed by scientific research.
To be sure, there is no known cure for autism, but research has shown that up to 2/3 or 64% of kids who are on the autism spectrum may garner profound benefits by a simple change in diet. More research has shown that the same is true for kids who struggle from ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Anti-biotics & Gut Dysbosis
An overwhelming majority of these kids suffer from a condition known as gut dysbiosis: A condition where the balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut is reversed.
This decrease in good bacteria and increase in bad or pathogenic bacteria leads to several consequences including adverse effects on the neurological system.
The link between neurological or psychological disorders and digestive disorders is pretty straightforward and has been demonstrated before in popular works such as Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr Natasha Campbell McBride.
As is often the case, the cause of gut dysbiosis in autistic children is an innocent one that any parent or physician would not think twice about. Many parents of autistic children report that their children received broad-spectrum antibiotics either consistently over a long period, or repeatedly, as treatment for any of several infections.
These broad-spectrum antibiotics kill off both good and bad bacteria in the gut, leading to some of these irregularities. This is the reason why proper nutrition aimed at restoring a healthy gut is crucial to nutrition therapy.
The adverse effects of these antibiotics go much farther than the unrestricted killing off of bacteria in the gut. According to Dr Jean Munro, the founder and director of the Breakspear Medical Group in Hemel Hempstead, the administration of antibiotics in the first year of life or even during pregnancy, breaks down the lining of the bowels, making them much more porous.
Peptides Mimic Morphine
These porous bowels mean that autistic people do not digest food like regular people do. Normally, when the body ingests proteins, it breaks it down to smaller components known as peptides, which are then broken down into even smaller particles which can then pass through the intestines.
With a porous bowel lining, these peptides are absorbed before they are properly broken down. They then pass into the blood stream and end up causing damage to the brain.
Many of these peptides mimic morphine and the body’s own opioids leading to many of the symptoms which we easily describe as autism.
It will be interesting to note at this point that researchers at the Autism Research Unit at Sunderland University have found copious amounts of these morphine-like compounds in the blood and urine of autistic children.
So what does this mean for your child?
According to Dr Robert Cade, professor of medicine and physiology in the University of Florida who noted that there was a directly proportional relationship between peptides in the blood and autistic behaviours, “If [levels of peptides] can be reduced to normal range,’ he says, ‘we typically see dramatic improvements.”
There are a few works out and available on which is the best sort of diet to implement. But whatever method you choose to go with, it is generally advised that you go gradually. The gradual removal of suspect foods over the period of weeks will help ease withdrawal symptoms and aid in adequate replacement of withdrawn foods where applicable.
Ideally, you can go down this road under the watchful eyes of a qualified nutritional therapist.