Digestive Enzymes (Autism)
Digestive enzymes are a crucial part of optimal health and healing many symptoms associated with autism.
If there were only one supplement to add to your protocol…this would be it!
Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring in our digestive tracts and help on several levels. For one, they break down the foods and nutrients in to a form that is easily absorbed. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has led to damage to many of our gut lining’s (where these enzymes are produced). (Refer back to the “Leaky Gut” series for more info on this.)
Additionally, this breakdown of foods is necessary so the bad bacteria or yeast don’t have more food to eat and grow on.
Enzymes are proteins made by cells in all living organisms including our bodies. They exist in all raw food, so the more raw food you consume, the less your body need’s to produce them. Any type of cooking or processing of food destroys these necessary enzymes, which is one reason supplementing is necessary.
Science is showing more and more that Gluten and Casein ( the proteins found in grains such as wheat and a protein found in dairy) greatly affect GI health as well as brain health and can lead to many neurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms. Gluten and casein produce opioid peptides creating a “drug-like” effect. These peptides are commonly found in the urine of those with autism and schizophrenia.
When the gut is damaged or hyperpermiable (leaky gut), these peptides called gluteomorphin (gluten) and caseomorphin (casein) can pass into the blood, provoking an immune response which leads to chronic inflammation. They can also mimic endorphins which can lead to changes in perception, mood, and behavior.
This is one reason why the gf/cf (gluten free/casein free) diet is so effective in reducing behaviors in kids with autism—it eliminates these peptides from the diet.
I absolutely believe a Gluten free and Casein free diet is eminent and should be used for GI healing and restoration.
However, enzymes are the next best thing to removing these foods!
Enzymes can actually break down these peptides!
So they are perfect for transitioning the “picky-eater”! It is essential to have a very high quality digestive enzyme with DPP-IV (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV). This is the only enzyme that effectively breaks down gluten and casein.
Here is a list of additional enzymes which are important and the functions they serve:
• Amylase – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars
• Protease – breaks down proteins (found in meats, eggs, cheese, and nuts)
• Lipase – breaks down fats (found in most dairy products, meats, oils, and nuts
• Cellulase – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber (will also breakdown time-release medications that use a form of cellulose in their outer coating)
As previously mentioned, these enzymes are naturally produced in our bodies, however, due to many conditions such as medications we take, foods we eat and other environmental factors, many of us have become deficient in these enzymes.
Additionally, damage to our gut linings have been done from these very reasons. Enzymes are an essential part of repairing the gut.
Enzymes must be taken with every meal to reap the benefits. The dose of enzymes taken depends on the amount of food being consumed. It is best to start with half a capsule (which can be mixed in liquid) and work up to at least 2 capsules with every meal.
Digestive enzymes can be beneficial for so many conditions. Let me know how they work for you!
Contact me with any questions you may have.
Gahlichi, F, et.al, Effect of gluten free diet on gastrointestinal and behavioral indices for children with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized clinical trial. World J Pediatr. 2016 Nov;12(4):436-442. Epub 2016 Jun 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27286693
Fukudome, S., et.al, "Release of Opioid Peptides, Gluten Exorphins by the action of pancreatic Elastase", FEBS Letters 412, no. 3 ( Aug. 4, 1997): 475-79
Buie, T., et.al, "Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals with ASDs: A consensus report", supplement, Pediatrics 125, no. 1 (Jan. 2010): S1-18