Food can be medicine or harm to our bodies. Following the standard American diet, with a high amount of carbohydrates, salt, unhealthy fats, and low in vegetables and fruits, is a recipe for inflammation in our system. High blood sugar due to the consumption of a high carbohydrate diet (refined carbs like white rice, bread,& pasta) will promote high oxidation or a "burning" state in our system. We are practically "burning" our bodies with excessive refined carbohydrates. The formation of hemoglobin A1c, an important indicator of diabetes, results from the oxidation or "burning" of hemoglobin by a molecule of sugar.
Usually, our system could deal or survive with these levels of inflammation until we get into our middle 30's and diabetes or hypertension start setting up in our body.
Sadly, kids with autism don't have the chance to have years ahead for them before excessive inflammation starts affecting their bodies. They start life with high levels of inflammation, particularly brain inflammation, and do not have the opportunity to learn essential skills and language with a well-functioning brain.
It is important to acknowledge that a diet high in carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, salt, and low in vegetables and fruits will promote an even higher level of inflammation and symptoms in autism.
The Higher The Levels of Inflammation, The Higher the Severity of Autism (1).
In other words, there is a fire called inflammation inside the kids on the spectrum. Unhealthy foods will act like gasoline to fuel the fire or appropriate foods will promote healing.
What can we do?
A diet rich in vegetables, organic fruits, nuts, healthy fats, grass-fed meat, and low in processed foods and refined sugars will activate anti-inflammatory genes in the body and will promote healing and cognition.
I know the problem first hand; my son was diagnosed with severe autism, and optimal nutrition was vital for his improvements.
Are organic products more expensive than non-organic? This statement is correct. On the other side, fast-foods meals or junk foods are also getting on the expensive side. Still, the long-term effects of having sustained inflammation in the body will cause more health expenses and less quality of life, especially an independent life as the goal of an adult with autism.
*When my son had severe symptoms of autism, I wondered if he would be able to eat fruits and vegetables. The issue is that having a diet deprived of healthy nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D will produce more autism symptoms like sensitivity to sounds and being less able to try new foods.
When my son understood that vegetables like broccoli were going to stay as a part of our new diet, he started to eat one small piece every day. Now, he can eat a large amount with healthy meat and fruits. My son's behavior therapist was able to help us with the introduction of fruits and vegetables.
Changing the diet of a child with autism or any other developmental disease is a challenge, but you are more than able to make it happen. You have to become creative, and when you start looking for solutions to your problem, creative thoughts will come to you.
"You get whatever you expect to get. The only question
is, what do you want?"
Mark Victor Hansen
There is Hope for Autism!!
David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN
Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist/Consultant
(1): Khakzad, M. R., Javanbakht, M., Shayegan, M. R., Kianoush, S., Omid, F., Hojati, M., & Meshkat, M. (2012). The complementary role of high sensitivity C-reactive protein in the diagnosis and severity assessment of autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6(3), 1032-1037