In 1980, 1 in 2000 children were diagnosed with autism. Now, it’s 1 in 68 according to the CDC. Autism rates are on the rise, causing many experts to refer to this trend as an autism epidemic. Widespread disagreement ensues over the exact cause of autism, yet it’s clear that toxicity is a major factor.
Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) display issues in the gut leading to digestive problems like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, as well as nutrient malabsorption leading to symptom-causing deficiencies. Detoxification, through modifications to the diet and supplementation, has been shown in hundreds of studies to alleviate many symptoms, improve behavior and development and, in a small percentage of children, even have the autism label removed.
- Dietary modification to heal the gut and reduce exposure to environmental toxins
- Nutrient supplementation to boost nutrients and antioxidants
- Detoxification of contaminants such as heavy metals and allergenic foods
Restoring nutrient balance and removing toxins has been reported in hundreds of studies to improve autism symptoms.
Enhances Executive Function
- Eye Contact
- Normalize behaviors and interactions
Promotion of Speech and Language
- Spontaneous language
- More complex sentences
- Increase vocabulary
Improvements in Socialization, Understanding, and Expressed Emotion
- Initiation and interactive play
- Understanding and feeling emotions
- Affection and tolerance to touch
Nutritional therapies have demonstrated benefits in managing this stubborn illness. Drugs don’t manage it. The Summary of Treatments for Autism from the Autism Research Institute recommends eating whole fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and protein and avoiding junk foods, processed foods, fried foods, transfat, and non-organic food. Organic foods contain more nutrients and have much lower levels of pesticides (7% vs 37% in non-organic foods). One study found that people living near an area with high use of agricultural pesticides had a much higher risk of having a child with autism.
Many ASD children have food sensitivities due to abnormalities in their digestive/immune system. ARI recommends eliminating common allergens, especially gluten and casein (dairy) from the diet. Casein, a protein found in dairy products, causes the immune system to attack a similar protein in the body, the folate transfer receptor, which carries folic acid into the brain and has a big effect on mood and behavior. Removing corn and soy may also be beneficial as they are common allergens.
Hundreds of studies show that supplementation with essential nutrients benefits development and behavior in children with autism. ASD children and adults often test deficient in key nutrients, either due to malabsorption in the gut or a need for more nutrients than the average person. Additionally, many studies have demonstrated that children with autism have substantial oxidative stress, suggesting either a low level of key antioxidants or an increased need for them.
ARI recommends supplementing vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B vitamins, choline, inositol, calcium, chromium, iodine, iron, lithium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur (MSM), and zinc to ensure that ASD people have enough nutrients and antioxidants to fully detox and support overall health.
Key Nutrient Studies
- Omega-3 fats from fish oil and flax seed promote positive moods and help cells communicate. Omega-3s are essential nutrients not produced by the body, so they must be obtained from diet. 11 studies to date from ARI note improvements in mood and brain function with omega 3 as well as an effect on reducing aggressive behavior, hostility, depressive symptoms, hyperactivity, and erratic behavior.
- Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that also has a calming effect. 46% of 201 parents reported to ARI that they saw improvements in their children who took vitamin C supplements.
- B6 and Magnesium deficiencies are prevalent in ASD populations. They manifest in bouts of agitation, aggressive behavior, irritability, and depression. 21 of 22 studies from ARI showed improvements with B6 and magnesium.
- Methyl B12 works with folic acid to make all the cells in the body and helps create RNA/DNA, regulate the immune system, detoxify heavy metals, produce proteins, and regulate inflammation. Dr. S. Jill James reports that 90% of her ASD patients were found to have methyl B12 deficiencies and 92% of her patients benefited from methyl B12 treatment.
- Probiotics play a major role in breaking down nutrients and building up the immune system. Increased levels of Clostridia have been found in the guts of ASD children and adults, along with decreased levels of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacili and Bifidobacteria. Supplementation can help maintain a healthy balance of friendly gut bacteria.
- Digestive Enzymes help the gut break down foods and absorb nutrients. ARI recommends digestive enzymes in case of allergen exposure, like casein and gluten, as they can help relieve side effects from allergens.
- MSM contains sulfur, which is a vital nutrient in the body’s detoxification pathways. Studies show a lack of sulfur in ASD people contributes to higher levels of toxicity and oxidative stress.