How a Healthy Gut Can Help Children with Autism


Balancing the microbes in the gut can lead to improved digestion, stronger immunity and overall better health. The flora of the gut of a child can be disrupted by things such as antibiotics, mom having a c-section, drugs, processed foods, infections and digestive issues.  What is important for healthy gut repair is a regime that includes many, many different strains of good bacteria.  Probiotics, healthy bacteria, that include multiple strains and between 10 – 50 billion per dose should be administered. These probiotics will function to repair the gut and prevent harmful microbes like yeast or clostridia from over-populating.

The healing process of the gut is so important because the digestive tract is responsible for making the majority of serotonin in the body and helps to produce and regulate dopamine. Both of these neurotrasmitters are out of balance in children with autism. Also important is the gut’s responsibility for regulating inflammation and supporting healthy immune function.

A large number of children with autism have digestive issues. The gut is important in regulating inflammation and according to recent research, it is believed that autism is an inflammatory issue.  An effective regime that involves healing the gut can have a dramatic role in decreasing the inflammatory load and show remarkable progress in helping children recover language, social and cognitive function.

Foods to Eat that Support Detoxification

Foods rich in factors that help improve the liver’s detoxification ability include:

  • high-sulfur-content foods such as garlic, legumes, onions, and eggs.
  • good sources of soluble fibers such as pears, oat bran, apples, and legumes.
  • cabbage-family vegetables, especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
  • artichokes, beets, lemons, carrots, dandelion, and herbs and spices including turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice.

GFCF Mac ‘n Cheese Recipe!

1 cup cooked rice elbow macaroni
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon tapioca or corn starch
Dash black pepper
1 ¼ cup Rice Milk
1 roll of Teese (cheddar style – cheese substitute)

Cook rice macaroni according to directions.
In a saucepan, cook onion in margarine until tender. Stir in flour and pepper.
Add rice milk.
Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.
Add cheese. Stir until melted.
Stir macaroni into cheese.
Transfer to a 1 quart casserole.
Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes – until bubbly.

This recipe was adapted from: http://gfcfrecipes.blogspot.ca/

Dietary Intervention – An Important Consideration for Autism

Autism is a complex biomedical disorder that is currently being diagnosed at an epidemic level in children. As research continues to fall short of unveiling a cause or cure for autism, parents and professionals strive to find treatments to minimize the symptoms of the condition. One well-known treatment is the use of specialized diets for autism. A preliminary dietary intervention which is still the most popular within the field of autism is the Gluten Free-Casein Free (GFCF) diet. The GFCF diet strives to remove the proteins of gluten (found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats) and casein (found in dairy products) for optimal digestion. As researchers have further recognized the gastrointestinal component of autism, additional diets to address the symptoms of autism have developed and are becoming more widely utilized.

These diets include:
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
Body Ecology Diet (BED)
GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome)
Feingold
Failsafe
Weston A. Price
Low Oxalate
DAN!

Research has recognized that those with autism have marked gastrointestinal symptoms and by eliminating offenders for the immune and gastrointestinal systems, improvements are often seen in neurological symptoms as well as digestive symptoms. For many children, dietary intervention has resulted in significant improvements in language, social interaction, behavior, and eye contact, along with a reduction in self-stimulatory behaviors and aggression. A healthy diet that addresses the gastrointestinal concerns for those who suffer from the condition is a viable treatment option in reducing symptoms and improving outcomes for children with autism.

A Closer Look at the DAN! Protocol

Standard autism treatments focus on behavior modification techniques, improving developmental delays, speech-language therapy and learning to cope with sensory issues. While these therapies can improve the quality of life for a child with autism, they do nothing about the underlying medical conditions and imbalances that challenge an autistic child’s daily life. The Dan! Protocol is a medical intervention that seeks to correct the physical issues not addressed by traditional autism therapies.

The Dan! Protocol’s overwhelming success comes from its unique, individualized approach as well as its biomedical focus. Since treatment is always preceded by extensive lab work, a Dan! doctor knows the biological deficiencies, imbalances and maladaptive responses for each child before an individualized treatment plan is designed and implemented.

There is not a standard protocol for every child. While many autistic children have similar medical issues such as food intolerances, digestive problems, yeast overgrowth and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, children are always treated according to their individual lab tests. For one child that might mean a gluten-free casein-free diet, digestive enzymes and probiotics to help restore intestinal bacteria balance. Another child might need a strong vitamin and mineral supplement, mb-12 injections, IV glutathione and other chelation methods to address a high level of heavy metals in the body.

Each treatment method has a specific medical reason for being used. Yeast overgrowth impairs digestion and creates malnutrition. Food intolerances cause inflammation, absorption issues and pain. When you correct an autistic child’s medical problems, many undesirable behaviors automatically improve.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and Autism

Many autistic individuals have tiny holes in their intestinal tract, and this is often referred to as ‘leaky gut’. Intestinal permeability, commonly called “leaky gut”, means that there are larger than normal spaces present between the cells of the gut wall. When these large spaces exist in the small intestine, it allows undigested food and other toxins to enter the blood stream. This theory suggests that autistic children have tears and holes in their intestinal walls, possibly due to damage from toxins, antibiotic sensitivity or infections (such as an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans). These children may lose healthy digestive bacteria and have damage to the cells that produce enzymes needed to absorb certain proteins (such as gluten) properly.

Gluten is a protein and is contained in grass foods such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. Casein is also a protein and is found in dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. In the intestinal tract, gluten and casein breakdown into peptides; and these peptides then breakdown into amino acids.

When incompletely broken down foods enter the body, the immune system mounts an attack against the “foreigner” resulting in food allergies and sensitivities. The release of antibodies triggers inflammatory reactions when the foods are eaten again. The chronic inflammation lowers IgA levels. Sufficient levels of IgA are needed to protect the intestinal tract from clostridia and yeast.

Partially digested protein molecules from gluten and casein, also known as peptides, can reach the brain via the bloodstream. Peptides have a molecular structure similar to that of your brain’s natural opioids (endorphins), so they’re drawn to the brain’s opioid receptors. This can lead to problems with behavior, speech and social skills. Just as opioid drugs such as heroin are addictive, so can foods high in gluten and casein be for children with leaky gut.

Many, but not all children with autism have food allergies, and this supports the hypothesis that leaky gut syndrome may underly symptoms of autism.  The important point is that many parents have seen results from the simple step of putting their autistic child on an autistic diet focusing on leaky gut syndrome. If you have an autistic child, it is well worth your time and their health to explore natural treatment options for them.

What is Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)?

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) is a project that was founded in the 1960s by Dr. Bernard Rimland. Doctors trained in the “DAN! Protocol,” are taught an approach to autism which begins with the idea that autism is a biomedical disorder. This approach was developed by the Autism Research Institute (ARI) which has more than 1,000 documented cases of autistic children who have recovered.

The belief among DAN! doctors is that autism is a disorder caused by a lowered immune response, issues caused by some foods, and external toxins from vaccines and other sources.

What Type of Treatments do DAN! Doctors Prescribe?


  • Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and essential fatty acids.
  • Gluten- and dairy-free diets.
  • Food allergy testing.
  • Treating dysbiosis in the gut using non-pharmacological medications (i.e. intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth).
  • Heavy metal detoxification.

What can I expect at my DAN! Doctor Appointment?

You can expect that your child will go through some testing mostly revolving around the state of their internal body. A test for hidden food allergies will be conducted to be sure that any dietary changes that are made as part of your child’s treatment plan are beneficial and not more damaging to them.

You should leave with your questions answered and a customized treatment plan for your child’s needs. If you have questions, ask, ask, ask. Remember, these doctors chose to be DAN! doctors. They believe in this treatment method, and want to see your child healthy!

The Latest Study On Gluten and Casein Free Diets And Their Benefit to Autism

Children with ASD often have problems with their gastrointestinal systems. New research out of Penn State College of Medicine [1] is confirming what most parents over ASD children have figured out… a diet free of gluten and casein often helps children with ASD.

“Notably, a greater proportion of our study population reported GI and allergy symptoms than what is seen in the general pediatric population,” said Christine Pennesi, medical student at Penn State College of Medicine, “Some experts have suggested that gluten- and casein-derived peptides cause an immune response in children with ASD, and others have proposed that the peptides could trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems.”

The study asked 387 parents and caregivers of children with ASD to complete a online survey about their children’s GI symptoms, food allergies, and food sensitivities. It was found that children with ASD had improved behavior when put on a diet limiting gluten and casein. Specifically, parents of ASD children found that not only did the dietary change decrease GI symptoms but it also increased the child’s social behaviors including language production, eye contact, engagement, attention span, requesting behavior, and social responsiveness.

The research strongly indicated that for some children, ASD is more than just a neurological disorder but may involve the gastrointestinal tract and immune system.

“There are strong connections between the immune system and the brain, which are mediated through multiple physiological symptoms,” Klein said. “A majority of the pain receptors in the body are located in the gut, so by adhering to a gluten-free, casein-free diet, you’re reducing inflammation and discomfort that may alter brain processing, making the body more receptive to ASD therapies.”

The survey concluded that while improvement was seen when eliminating either gluten or casein from a child’s diet, the most benefit was seen in children that adhered to gluten-free and casein-free diets.

“If parents are going to try a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children, they really need to stick to it in order to receive the possible benefits,” she said. “It might give parents an opportunity to talk with their physicians about starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children with ASD.”

Have any of our readers seen benefits to gluten-free and casein-free diets for their ASD child?

[1] Pennesi Christine M.; Klein Laura Cousino. Effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Based on parental report. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2012 DOI: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000003

The Brain-Gut Connection

Our miraculous body has some amazing connections. Think about it, when you stub your toe, your brain sends a message down to your toe that it hurts. When you have a toothache, sometimes the pain can be felt in another tooth because of how many nerves there are. One of the most fascinating connections, however is that of the brain and gut.

Some often call the gut a second brain, as it sends a number of messages throughout the body, just as the brain does. Remember the last time you had butterflies? Some may argue that this is your brain sending a nervous signal to your stomach. How about when you eat a lot of food in one sitting – it takes your stomach a little bit of time to tell your brain that you are in fact full. (This is why many doctors and health counselors suggest eating more slowly to give the stomach time to communicate with the brain. Before even eating, the brain can get the stomach’s juices flowing in anticipation.

In Autism cases,  and as a reverse to this brain-gut connection, a troubled intestine can also send messages to the brain. Because the gastrointestinal system is so closely related to the brain, they should be considered one.

A sick or disrupted gastrointestinal system can cause behavioral symptoms as well. Just as being hungry causes anyone to be a little grumpy, this is the same in many other instances. Because GI problems are common in Autism cases, one might be inclined to ask, “Could it be a gut issue that is causing my child’s behavioral issues?”

From being anti-social and extra anxious to overly sensitive and lacking focus, the malfunctioning stomach can be the cause of many neuro-symptoms.  Other symptoms that can be attributed to poor gut function are depression, lack of interest, short temper, loss of memory, trouble recalling things, headaches, and sleep problems.

It could be a diet change, or an allergic reaction, or gut flora that could be affecting your child. While every case of Autism is different, it’s very interesting to consider the connection between the brain and the gut and how seemingly brain-related symptoms could originate in the stomach and vice-versa.

 

Enhanced Biofilm Protocol – Perfecting the Process

biofilm

For those of you new readers here, or even parents who are new to the Autism world, Biofilm may be something you’ve never heard of. Don’t worry, the majority of parents that come into our office aren’t sure what it is either, but once it’s explained, they completely understand. Over the last few years, Dr. Wong has been working hard at perfecting testing and treatment of Biofilm, more commonly called Biofilm Protocol, and has come up with an improved process.

Before we get into this new process, let’s do a little review. In one of our previous posts, we explained that Biofilm is more easily thought of as slime. This slime, or biofilm can exist and thrive wherever there is water, from the bathroom counter to your teeth (think: dental plaque) to the gut of living mammals including humans. You might even be able to catch a glimpse of some biofilm as that sticky, green stuff clinging to pipes and plumbing.

About 99 precent of bacteria live in biofilm communities. Of course, not all bacteria is bad. Some bacteria’s primary function is to kill other, more damaging bacteria. More commonly though, we know about the bad bacteria that can do things like corrode pipes and invade our bodies and make us sick, or even causing bodies to reject medical implants.

Whenever we have an infection or some sort, we typically go to the doctor and they prescribe us an antibiotic that starts working immediately and attacking bacteria in our bodies that are making us ill. However, biofilm is a very intelligent thing. Some biofilm resists antibiotics and medicines, and continues thriving despite intense attempts at destroying it. It’s also important to note that depending on the environment, biofilm can form in as little as 30 seconds, to several weeks.

The makings of biofilm were closely studied and it was found that biofilm builds itself a protective matrix utilizing iron, magnesium and calcium. Once this was broken down using Chelation, heavy metals were released into the bowel. Prior to the chelation, the bowel tested sometimes negatively to having toxic metals. This shows that the biofilm itself is in a sense hiding metals.

Dr Wong’s New Findings:

Based on observation of the Blood Chemistry (a blood test) of those affected individuals they are always deficiencies in Calcium and Vitamin D.  Most of them are always having a detoxification issues via their livers and are always eating “white goods” – such as refined carbohydrates.  Dr. Wong’s modified enhanced biofilm protocol now includes calcium and vitamin D supplements.  Additionally the child is given a check-up on their Ileocecal valve and Houston valve.  If the valves are defective, they are fixed using manual correction or acupressure technique.  To confirm deficiences, the Blood Chemistry Test is ran again.

Next week, we’re going to take a close look at Dr. Wong’s Biofilm Protocol.We’re putting together an easy to understand guide on the new Enhanced Biofilm Protocol, and we’re going to be sharing that with you!

Have a wonderful week!