The Impact of Sugar On Autism Part II: Healthy Substitutes

sugar and autism

Last week, we took a look at the different kinds of sugar, what they really are composed of and how they affect the body. In case you missed it, you can catch up with us by reading last week’s post.

As we mentioned last week, high fructose corn syrup in particular, as we’ve discussed before here on this blog, is a very dangerous neurotoxin. Yet, sugar in some forms, especially glucose is an essential substance for the body. When glucose levels are low, some neuro processes, such as self control are less active.

That being said, which sugars are safe? Which should be avoided? Which sugars are best for children with Autism?

No matter what dietary belief different specialists have, one general rule can be assumed: food is at its best in it’s most natural form. It is when we begin to process foods and include preservatives and additives that the most healthy foods become detrimental to one’s health. The chemical and biological structure of the foods change and do not have the same effect on the body as they normally would in their pure form.

Many of the foods that contain additives and are processed are carbohydrates, reports Natasha Campbell-McBride MD. Carbohydrates, when ingested, are absorbed into glucose in the body. When we consume foods in their rawest and most healthy form, the carbohydrates allow glucose to gradually be released into the body at a comfortable speed. Processed foods cause the blood glucose level to rise at quicker levels. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, says in her report on the Essential Diet for Autism, that this is the reason why that after you, or even your child has a bowl of cereal in the morning, the feeling of hunger could be back in an hour causing you to reach for a chocolate bar, or a cup of coffee, then feeding into the dangerous up and down level of glucose.

The belief that Autism as an autoimmune disorder, meaning that there is an imbalance in the immune system. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD goes on to say that

“ Processed foods, particularly processed carbohydrates and sugar, directly weaken the functioning of macrophages, natural killer cells and other white blood cells and undermine systemic resistance to all infections. For example, an immune compromised person, (like an autistic child) who has soft drinks and french fries or crisps daily, will worsen their condition by these food choices.”

Studies also show that sucralose decreases the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut by increasing acid levels in the colon.

It has also been said that Sugar is more addictive than Cocaine. Although this may sound extreme, think about the effect that sugar has on moods? Do you remember the last time your child was “high” on sugar? Or maybe your child has cried on end for a piece of candy or their favorite sugary cereal.

So, what do you do when your child craves sugar? What’s a safe alternative?

Consider using natural foods and adding your own sweeteners; healthier alternatives. Make your own desserts.

Agave Nectar is a relatively new member to the shelves. Agave is known to be sweeter than honey with a lower glycemic index, or the rate in which it causes the glucose levels in the body to increase. Agave also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Xylitol is is derived from birch bark and can be found at your local health food store. It is produced in small amounts by the human body. It is also said to decrease the risk of tooth decay. It is found in breathmints and gum that market themselves as fighters of tooth decay.

A rule of thumb is “everything in moderation”. It’s important to understand that even the most seemingly healthy substitutes may not be good for the body in abundance. It’s all about balance.

Next week: We will look at Xylitol individually as a beneficial sugar alternative and how it can not only prevent tooth decay and provide a sweet alternative to sugar, but can prevent infections in the body as well.

As with any sweeteners, they should be consumed in moderation. As far as giving sugars to your child as a reward, consider making healthy fruit like apples or grapes a reward. Sugary foods should not be seen as something to behave or excel for.