Autism Diet and Nutrition
As a Naturopath treating children with autism for 15 years, I would like to share a recent research paper on autism diet and nutrition. It provides an excellent framework for consideration of dietary intervention and supplementation for children with autism. By way of a double-blind study, it cements a foundational understanding of how diet and nutrition intervention benefits autism and confirms the case that autism is treatable.
Adams JB, Audhya T, McDonough-Means S, Rubin RA, Quig D, Geis E, Gehn E, Loresto M, Mitchell J, Atwood S, Barnhouse S, Lee W. Nutritional and metabolic status of children with autism vs. neurotypical children, and the association with autism severity. Nutrition & Metabolism 2011 Jun 8;8(1):34.
This study validates what many clinicians have observed in their practices for years—that children with autism have biomedical imbalances that are strong factors in their autistic symptoms, and that diet and supplementation play a role in helping children to heal, even lose their autism diagnosis. (See a previous blog I posted for a framework of understanding on how this may be possible despite what many ‘experts’ will have you believe)
The study compared 55 children with autism diagnoses with 44 controls (neurotypical children of similar ages ranging from 5-16 years old). Neither group had taken nutritional supplementation for two months prior to the testing conducted in the study.
The research indicated that for the children with autism, their levels of nutrients were within reference ranges; however many of their biomarkers were significantly different from the control group. Biomarkers are a way of discovering the functional insufficiency of a nutrient by measuring markers in biochemical pathways that indicate a deficiency, and comparing that to the actual amount of the nutrient in the body (as measured in blood, etc). The nutrient may be available but the body is unable to utilise it.
This is an interesting finding—nutrient levels appear “normal” but functional testing shows that they are not normal in children with autism. Functional testing is not used in most traditional medical settings.
In this study, biomarkers for increased oxidative stress, decreased sulfation and detoxification, vitamin and glutathione insufficiency, and reduced energy transport were also found. And, several of the biomarker groups were significantly associated with the severity of autism.
Adams’ study highlights the need for foods rich in antioxidants and antioxidant supplementation for children with autism. Foods like berries, beans, spices like turmeric and rosemary, nuts, grass-fed beef and pastured poultry are good sources of antioxidants. Foods rich in glutathione and glutathione precursors to include in your child’s diet consist of: broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, garlic, kale, cumin and cinnamon, eggs, and avocado.
This is by no means the only study to show benefits. I can highly recommend a book by Julie Mathews “Nourishing Hope for Autism,” which has nearly 200 scientific references regarding the biochemistry of autism and the use of food, nutrition, and supplementation to treat autism.
For more information check out our website or for advice and bookings call the clinic on 02 4283 1200.