Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Autism Diets Article Part 1: Why Food Does So Much

Laura Schmitt NE

As contributed to the ECI newsletter - sign up with Cindy through www.eciautismsociety.org

Autism Diets Overview – Part 1

How can dietary changes help with autism spectrum disorders? You may have heard that an autism diet can be helpful, you may have even witnessed, first hand, positive changes after implementing dietary change, but perhaps there are still questions. In the coming newsletters, I will help explain some core principles of leaky gut and the ASD diets that are geared toward healing. I will also overview the main diet choices and explain why they are used and what they do to help a child or adult on the Autism Spectrum. In days to come, I will cover the essentials of eating for wellness, as it relates to optimal health and true success in healing.

To start, let’s get an overview of why a diet change could be helpful to someone who falls under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). As noted in Jepson’s book, Changing the Course of Autism, dietary changes increase neurological functioning as well as GI functioning. With an increase in the GI functioning, a damaged gut may begin healing and it will then be better able to absorb nutrients. In addition, that healing gut will be experiencing less inflammation, which means there will be less immune activation as a result of leaky gut and food intolerances. This decrease in inflammation will help reduce pain and improve sleep for many. Better GI working also leads to bowel improvement which also helps reduce pain and discomfort and improve mood. This is a domino effect that illustrates one example of how the choice of what food we put in our mouth can directly affect our ability to feel better, listen better, sleep better, and more.

Another key component to the success of any autism diet is knowing the individual and their unique biochemical makeup and needs. While one person may do dramatically well on a gluten free / casein free diet, the next may do better with a modified specific carbohydrate plan. The inner workings and needs of each person will vary as the response to foods and environment vary from person to person. To find the right combination for each individual will require trial and error, to some extent, but there are clues we can look for to help us along the way. Our goal will be to remove what is causing harm, replace what is missing from the diet, and break the vicious cycle of intestinal and immune mediated inflammation.

In the next ECI newsletter I will help to define and explain the leaky gut. Click Here to go to part 2.

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