A Response to “The Impact of Sugar on Autism”

This is in response to a few comments left by one of our Readers on several of our posts.

I understand that you have been busy analyzing my blog. I thank you first for your patronage but like I mentioned before this is a blog. We blog because we wanted “to document our [sic] lives, provide commentary and opinions, express deeply felt emotions, articulate ideas through writing, and form and maintain community forums.” (Nardi et al, 2004)

This blog is in response to your questions about “The Impact of Sugar on Autism Part II: Healthy Substitutes”.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a neurotoxin. I am sure this caught your attention. In a case report by Abe et al (2008) they discovered infantile botulism caused by ingestion of corn syrup. As you know botulism is neurotoxin. (Sarah, 2001) In another report by Wallinga et al (2009), they found mercury in 9 out of the 20 samples of commercial HFCS. Mercury affects neuron functions and alter behavior characteristic in autistic kids. (Dufault et al, 2009) I am trying to warn you to be careful about feeding HFCS especially for the younger child.

Natasha Campbell-McBride MD is a medical doctor with specialties in neurology and nutrition. She graduated “with Honours as a Medical Doctor in 1984 from Bashkir Medical University in Russia”. (GAPS, 2008a) Her experiences with autism were enriched by her personal treatment of her autistic child and the discovery of the connection between brain and gut. (Autism Research Institute, 2011) Dr. Campbell-McBride does not represent any institutions though she has been invited to many (GAPS, 2008b), and is the author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Her approach has been published in Journal of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. (Campbell-McBride, 2005)

People with autism have compromised immune systems. (Onore et al, 2011; Krause et al, 2002) There are tons of studies on this statement.

Sugar is more addictive than cocaine. In one study by Lenoir et al (2007) on an animal model, the rats chose saccharin (artificial sugar) and sucrose (natural sugar) over cocaine even though some individuals are drug-addicted. Sugar is addictive because of its effect on the dopaminergic and opioid effects. (Avena et al, 2009) It feels good to eat lots of sugar! This blog is rightfully filed under “Behavior Modification”. It is because we need to change or modify our behaviors to stop overconsumption of ‘sugar’. Sugar addiction becomes more prevalent and stronger if the individual is following a highly restrictive or binging behavior. (Corwin and Grigson, 2009) Goldman et al (1986) showed that sugar consumption affected the performance and causes ‘inappropriate’ behaviors in preschool children. We need to stop eating more ‘sugars’.

“Studies also show that sucralose decreases the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut by increasing acid levels in the colon.” (Abou-Donia et al, 2008)

It is also called Splenda.

There you go and so I have provided all the literature citations and references. I do hope this has helped you.

Abe, Y., Negasawa, T., Monma, C. and Oka, A. (2008) ‘Infantile Botulism Caused by Clostridium butyricum Type E Toxin’, Pediatric Neurology, 38(1), pp. 55-57.
Abou-Donia, M., El-Masry, E. and Abdel-Rahman, A., McLendon, R. and Schiffman, S. (2008) ‘Splenda Alters Gut Microflora and Increases Intestinal P-Glycoprotein and Cytochrome P-450 in Male Rats’, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 71(21), pp. 1415-1429.
Autism Research Institute (2011) My Son. Available at: http://www.autism.com/fam_sample_campbellmcbride.asp (Accessed: 12 October 2011).
Avena, N., rada, P. and Hoebel, B. (2009) ‘Sugar and Fat Bingeing Have Notable Differences in Addictive-like Behavior’, Journal of Nutrition, 139(3), pp. 623-628.
Campbell-McBride, N. (2005) ‘Gut and psychology syndrome (GAP syndrome or GAPS)’, Journal of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 24(2), pp. 14-15.
Corwin, R. and Grigson, P. (2009) ‘Symposium Overview—Food Addiction: Fact or Fiction?’, Journal of Nutrition, 139(3), pp. 617-619.
Dufault, R., Schnoll, R., Lukiw, W., LeBlanc, B., Cornett, C., Patrick, L., Wallinga, D., Gilbert, S. and Crider, R. (2009) ‘Mercury exposure, nutritional deficiencies and metabolic disruptions may affect learning in children’, Behavioral and Brain Functions, 5(44), pp. 1-15, BioMed Central [Online]. Available at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1744-9081-5-44.pdf (Accessed: 12 October 2011).

GAPS (2008a) Dr Campbell-McBride. Available at: http://www.gaps.me/preview/?page_id=35 (Accessed: 12 October 2011).
GAPS (2008b) Speaking Events. Available at: http://gaps.me/preview/?p=240 (Accessed: 12 October 2011).
Goldman, J., Lerman, R., Contois, J. and Udall, J. (1986) ‘Behavioral effects of sucrose on preschool children’, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 14(4), pp. 565-577.
Krause, I., He, X., Gershwin, M. and Shoenfeld, Y. (2002) ‘Brief Report: Immune Factors in Autism: A Critical Review’, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(4), pp. 337-345.
Lenoir, M., Serre, F., Cantin, L. and Ahmed, S. (2007) ‘Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward’, PLoS ONE, 2(8), pp. e698.
Nardi, B., Schiano, D., Gumbrecht, M. and Swartz, L. (2004) ‘Why we blog’, Communications of the ACM, 47(12), pp. 41-46.
Onore, C., Careaga, M. and Ashwood, P. (2011) ‘The role of immune dysfunction in the pathophysiology of autism’, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2011.08.007 (Accessed: 12 October 2011).
Sarah, L. (2001) ‘Infant Botulism’, The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 20(7), pp. 707-709.
Wallinga, D., Sorensen, J., Mottl, P. and Yablon, B. (2009) ‘Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup’, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, pp.1-23, [Online]. Available at: http://www.globe-expert.eu/quixplorer/filestorage/Interfocus/5-Climat_Environnement/58-Agriculture/58-SRCNL-IATP/200901/Jan._26_2009_Not_so_Sweet_Missing_Mercury_and_High_Fructose_Corn_Syrup_report_by_By_IATPDavid_Wallinga_M.D

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.

The Impact of Sugar On Autism Part I


Sugar is a commonly used substance. Whether its in coffee, tea, or the key ingredient in your favorite candy, sugar is something we, as humans consume everyday. Sugar also comes in many varieties, some claiming to be more healthy than the other, and being safe for consumption for those with Diabietes. Other sugar based substances, like High Fructose Corn Syrup are rumored to be very harmful to the body.

With all of these varieties of sugar; aspartame, splenda, saccharine, and high fructose corn syrup, which are really safe to consume? What is sugar anyway? What do these varieties contain and how are they made?  And is it really more beneficial to avoid sugar altogether, or to consume it in moderation?

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a close look at sugar, what it is, what it means for Autism, and some alternatives that may be safer than Sugar.

First of all, let’s take a look at the basics:

What is Sugar?

A simple definition of sugar is : “a white crystalline carbohydrate used as a sweetener and preservative.” However, it’s much more complicated than that especially with its substitutes. When the word “sugar” is used, it usually refers to sucrose which is derived from sugar cane and sugar beet, a cultivated plant.

The problems with Sugar

The problem with sucrose is that it can contribute to tooth decay. Most experts believe that too much sugar does not in fact cause diabetes. However, excessive calories from sugar can contribute to obesity which then can heighten the risk of diabetes.

Other Sugar Varieties

Other sugar varieties, which are typically used in industrial food preparation are glucose, fructose, and high fructose corn syrup.

Glucose itself is stored mainly in the liver and is an essential, primary source of energy for the brain. When glucose levels are low, certain psychological processes are impaired such as decision making and self control.

Fructose is a fruit sugar and is found in a variety of foods. It is also one of three important dietary monosaccharides along with glucose and galactose. Fructose is the most easily dissolved in water of all of the sugars. Substances such as honey, fruits (especially melons), and some root vegetables contain a great amount of molecular fructose in combination with glucose. This combination is stored in the form of sucrose.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a corn syrup that has undergone enzymatic process to convert some of its glucose to fructose to achieve the desired sweetness. In the United States, cereal, beverages, yogurts, lunch meats, and soups commonly contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. The reason why High Fructose Corn Syrup is so commonly used is because it is quite inexpensive compared to other sugars.

Additionally High Fructose Corn Syrup may be a source of mercury, as we’ve learned and spoken about before, is a very dangerous neurotoxin and can cause numerous negative bodily effects on the autistic body.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that has no saccharide and is used as a sweetener in some foods and drinks. It’s safety has been questioned over the years and a lot of internet hoaxes have accused Aspartame of being the cause of epidemics of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors. These accusations were proven false, and the FDA has not found, to this day any consistent proof that Aspartame causes any great danger to the body.

However, because of it’s chemical breakdown consisting of phenylalanine, Aspartame must be avoided by those with PKU, a condition marked by a deficiency of the PAH enzyme.

Splenda is a sucralose based artificial sweetener. The caloric content of Splenda is lower than Sugar. It is considered a safe substance, however there was a controversial study in which consumption caused a series of negative affects including reduction of fecal microflora. To get an idea of how Splenda is made and produced, take a look at its slogan: “It starts with sugar, it tastes like sugar, but it’s not sugar.”

When checking nutrition labels, Reader’s Digest offers a helpful suggestion:

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate devoid of any nutritional benefits. And even if an ingredient label doesn’t list sugar, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. Manufacturers use more kinds of sugar than you can shake a stick at, and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with some of them so you’re not fooled into thinking an item is better for you than it is. Look for any of these:

-Brown sugar
-Carob powder
-Corn syrup
-Evaporated cane juice
-Fruit juice concentrate
-High-fructose corn syrup

To get a sense of how much sugar you’re really eating, check the nutrition label for “Sugars,” listed in grams. Every 4 grams is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar. Experts suggest we limit our sugar intake to 12 teaspoons a day for all food sources

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of sugars, it may be a bit easier while you’re wondering what to put in your coffee, tea, or what to check for on nutrition labels.

A preview for next week:

Could your child be addicted to sugar? What are some safe and healthy alternatives to sugar that can be used?


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