Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Diet And Autism

There are numerous interventions parents can undertake with a child who has autism and diet is one area that is particularly important. There is anecdotal evidence from parents that certain diets have resulted in improvement with people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Scientific research is not as definitive as some reviews and reports support this notion while others don’t.

There is some great information in the article titled Diet and autistic spectrum disorder and we’ve extracted some suggestions here for you.

• Gluten free and casein free: Gluten is a protein contained in many types of breads, pastas, biscuits and breakfast cereals. Casein is a protein in cow’s milk that is contained in cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt and milk chocolate biscuits. It is suggested that people with ASD have an abnormally leaky gut that creates an intolerance to these proteins which affects mental function and behaviour.

• Food additives: People with ASD are intolerant to many food additives such as colourings, flavour enhancers, artificial sweeteners and preservatives as they can affect their behaviour.

• Phenolic compounds and salicylates: The suggestion is that foods such as cheese, tomatoes, oranges, bananas and chocolate contain enzymes that some people lack that are needed to break down the compounds in these foods and as a result affect the symptoms of people with ASD.

• Yeast free: Eating less foods such as natural and refined sugars, breads, vinegar, cheese, soy sauce, alcohol, coffee and processed meats reduces the growth of yeasts in the gut and avoids the leaky gut scenario that is similar with the gluten free and casein free diets.

Again, as noted at the start, the scientific research is not definitive on this issue and importantly working with your doctor or a dietician from a community health service can provide more information and support in this important area.

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