What a difference a diet makes!
by Jacqueline Lovett
A commendable study released earlier this year was one of the first in proving the effectiveness of nutritional and dietary interventions when treating Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Many preceding studies reveal children and adults with ASD, have significant nutritional deficiencies, a metabolic imbalance and digestive problems. For years we knew the importance of dietary interventions and it’s with this recent study that there is now substantial evidence in backing up these claims.
Currently autism is defined as ‘a mental condition, present from early childhood and characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts’. A 12-month treatment study involving 67 children and adults with ASD was undertaken in Arizona, its participants were aged between 3-58 years. The study focused on the supplementation of specific vitamins/minerals, carnitine, essential fatty acids, as well as the introduction of Epsom salt baths, digestive enzymes, and a healthy gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free diet (i.e. HGCSF diet). The major principles of the diet included;
- Adequate intake of a variety of vegetables (including leafy greens) and fruit (preferably whole fruit)
- Adequate protein quality and intake
- Adequate, but not excessive, caloric intake
- Minimal consumption of “junk” foods and replacement with healthy snacks
- Healthy, gluten-free, casein-free, and soy-free
- Avoidance of artificial flavors, colours and preservatives
The largely positive results from the study show that nutritional and dietary interventions are effective at improving nutritional status, non-verbal IQ, autism symptoms, and other symptoms found in most individuals with ASD. In particular, parents commented that vitamin/mineral supplementation and essential fatty acids were the most beneficial. Three standout case studies (found at the bottom of this post) suggest that different long-term problems were remarkably improved. They support the effectiveness of nutritional interventions and show positive results when addressing complex medical conditions.
Here at core, all treatments are tailored specifically to each individual and we understand that education is key to any successful protocol. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at the clinic.
Standout case studies:
Case study A:
“Increase in Physical Strength/Endurance/Energy: Participant A was a 9-year-old female with severe ASD, moderately overweight (BMI = 31.5), and very low strength, endurance, and energy level. She could not get in/out of the family van, climb stairs, or get up off the floor by herself, and had a low activity level overall. She could only walk a quarter mile before sitting and refusing to get up, so a wheelchair was used for outings. Around four months after treatment started her strength and endurance began to improve significantly, and by 6–12 months into the study she was able to get in/out of the van, walk up/down stairs, walk two miles, and attend outings without tiring. The wheelchair was put in storage and no longer needed. Her overall energy level increased substantially to the level when she was a toddler, and she began to skip around the house. Her diet had been self-limited with total avoidance of beef and pork products (the main dietary sources of carnitine), and her improvement seemed to primarily change with the addition of high-dose carnitine at 4 months into the study. An in-depth assessment of her carnitine status revealed that, averaging over measurements of 37 different types of carnitine (acetyl-carnitine species), her pre-treatment levels averaged only 68% of normal, and after treatment they averaged 18% above normal. So, low carnitine seems likely to have contributed to her challenges, and carnitine supplementation seems to have helped”.
Case Study B:
“Complete Resolution of Inability to Urinate: Participant B was a 27-year-old male with severe ASD and a history of severe urinary retention and occasional kidney stones for three years, requiring daily catheterization and occasional hospitalization. The cause was unknown and assumed to be neurological. Previous treatment with Flomax and Bethanecol was ineffective. The daily intermittent catheterization caused much discomfort to the subject, including bouts of urinary tract infections, bladder infections and irritation of the external urethral orifice, requiring numerous treatments with oral antibiotics and antifungals. His parents reported “His quality of life and social activity were much diminished. In addition, behavioral issues started to emerge, including an obsession with the constant touching of his genitals (probably initially caused by irritation which then evolved into a stimulative behavior). This became a huge problem when out in public, around peers and with his family members”.
As step one of a HGCSF diet, the subject was taken off all dairy products. Approximately four days after all dairy had been removed from his diet, the subject spontaneously went to the restroom and urinated on his own. He continued to be able to urinate on his own numerous times a day to the point where catheterization was no longer required. About three weeks after the subject had been taken off dairy products, he accidentally ate ice-cream, and the subject immediately ceased to be able to urinate on his own, returning to the necessity of daily intermittent catheterization. After approximately four days after eating the ice cream, the subject once again started spontaneously urinating on his own without assistance. He continued to be able to urinate on his own, eliminating the need for catheterization. Approximately four months after dairy had been removed from his diet, he accidentally ate cheese, upon which the subject once again lost the ability to urinate on his own, requiring intermittent catheterization. After approximately four days the subject started spontaneously urinating on his own again. The participant remained completely dairy-free for the remainder of the study, and continued to be able to urinate on his own and catheterization was no longer required, and there were zero episodes of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, bladder infections or urethral irritation. His parents reported that “his quality of life has improved dramatically and all behavior issues, including the constant touching of his genitals, have ceased. His social interactions with his
peers and family members have improved dramatically and he is overall a much happier person”.
Case Study C:
“Complete resolution of Pica: Participant C was a seven-year-old boy with severe pica. Within one week of starting the HGCSF diet there was a complete resolution of the pica which continued until the end of the study. Note that at baseline this boy had low levels of many nutrients compared to typical children, including: cobalamin (5% of normal), methylcobalamin (49%), beta-carotene (23%), nicotinic acid (29%), vitamin C (34%), pantothenic acid (35%), and riboflavin (52%). It seems likely that the severe pica was due to many significant nutritional deficiencies, and possibly a metabolic problem with cobalamin absorption or conversion”.