Healthy Diet Options For Autism

dietThe majority of people these days are focusing on a healthy diet. People are going the vegetarian or vegan route in order to be sure their bodies are receiving beneficial vitamins and minerals that will enable it to function better. Many people who switch their diets for healthier options report better digestion, health, mental state, and overall well being. Could the vegetarian’s be onto something? Could eating a healthier diet be the key to healing the autistic body?

Along with Autism often comes problems with the gut and digestive system.  Multiple research studies have found that the Autistic body is often lacking essential enzymes that are needed in order to digest food properly.  Along with the enzyme deficiency, there are a high level of food allergies that are found in Autism cases as well.  For these reasons, it’s important that your child’s diet be a priority. It’s a relatively inexpensive treatment, and really just comes down to monitoring what they eat, and making sure it’s conducive to their individual needs.

One of the most commonly practiced Autism diets is the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet. When wheat and dairy products are broken down, their peptides bind themselves to the neuroreceptors of the brain, just as opiates do. It’s important to also be sure that if you decide to practice the GFCF diet, that you’re sure to omit all gluten and casein sources from your child’s diet. Additionally, there are hidden sources of gluten that you should be sure to avoid as to not contaminate the body.

Another diet that is beneficial to Autism is the SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The SCD diet removes all starches and complex sugars from the child’s diet and it’s goal is to rid the intestines of bacterial overgrowth. Studies show that microorganisms in the gut damage the GI tract and cause digestive problems along with brain problems.  The damaging microorganisms survive because they feed on carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to digest. By practicing the SCD diet, and eliminating the pathogens “fuel”, it starves them out and prevents them from surviving.

The Feingold Diet promotes the function of the PST enzyme which is weak in those with Autism. Typically, vegetables with high color contents and food dyes are the biggest culprit. When you eat foods with Yellow #5, you lose Zinc through your saliva and urine. Zinc is essential for the proper digestion of protein, fat, and alcohol. Additionally, Zinc is necessary for wound healing, immune system function, thyroid function, and cognitive function.

No matter if you’re utilizing one of the above diets, or a physician ordered diet, it’s important they you’re certain that you’re still giving your child the vitamins and minerals that they did for their health. For example, while fish has a high level of Omega 3,  some types have Mercury, which is damaging to the brain. Omitting fish is okay, but that missing Omega 3 needs to be supplemented.  Pro-biotic supplements are mandatory for children who are completely dairy free.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

Last week, I talked about the GFCF Diet which involves removing gluten and casein from your child’s diet. This diet allows the gut to heal, prevents the body having an autoimmune reaction and has been shown to reduce many of the symptoms of ASD.

CandiesThe SCD, or Specific Carbohydrate Diet, is a step on from the GFCF Diet and was made popular by  the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall.

Gottschall created the SCD after her daughter’s ulcerative colitis and neurological problems were dramatically improved by a change in diet. Elaine was able to make the “gut brain link” and realized that what her daughter ate affected her gut which, in turn, affected her brain. The SCD was born and has gone on to help sufferers of IBS, Crohn’s Disease, celiac, cystic fibrosis, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis and autism spectrum disorders.

The Diet Explained

Full information can be found in Elaine’s book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle”, on the website www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info and also on www.pecanbread.com but I will give you a brief overview of the diet here.

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A Healthy Diet

Dietary changes and special diets, like the GFCF Diet, are a valuable part of a program of biomedical treatments for autistic children.

Many autistic children have gastrointestinal (GI) disorders which mean that they have problems digesting food properly, or are “allergic” to certain foods. “Elimination” type diets can work wonders at improving GI problems and other autism symptoms. Examples of elimination diets are the GFCF Diet and the SCD, which both remove gluten and casein from a child’s diet.

However, there are simple dietary changes which can be made before following a strict diet program. Little changes that can have a big impact on your child’s health and behavior.

Think about your child’s diet. Is your child eating a healthy, well-balanced diet which is rich in essential nutrients? Be honest.

The Modern Diet

Many children in these modern times are well fed, but actually malnourished. They are eating plenty of food, but much of it is junk food. This type of food is bad for their bodies, has empty calories and has no nutritional value at all.

Burger

Even if you are avoiding giving your child the obvious junk food, you may not realize what artificial colors, preservatives, flavors and fillers are in the everyday foods that they are consuming.

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