Prior to 1980, autism was only seen in approximately 1 in 10,000 kids. Now, according to the CDC, autism rates are 1 in 45.
There are many pieces to the autism puzzle.
The medical community agrees that there are multiple factors involved in autism and it is the general consensus that it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental triggers.
The GI tract is now referred to as the “Second Brain” and contains 100’s of millions of neurons—more than the peripheral nervous system. Genetic factors such as MTHFR, and environmental factors, such as nutrient deficiencies, toxins, antibiotics, gut dysbiosis and food intolerances all influence inflammation and the gut/brain barrier. Getting to these core concepts can result in better communication, more focus and concentration and improved behaviors.
An increasing number of parents are seeking biomedical interventions for their children on the autism spectrum as well as for ADHD.
Clinical nutrition for autism and other behavioral conditions addresses some of the biomedical theories related to autism. The four main areas addressed under this approach are gastrointestinal abnormalities, immune dysfunctions, detoxification abnormalities, and/or nutritional deficiencies/ imbalances.
Addressing these issues can help control specific behaviors associated with these conditions!
It is often wondered how the gut can cause certain “autistic behaviors”. The medical literature is revealing that an imbalanced microbiome combined with “leaky gut” can cause an inflammatory immune response in the brain.
What about Genetics?
There are many aspects to genetics in autism. There is continuous research in this area as well. However, as we are finding out, genetics just sets things up ….there is something environmentally that triggers the spiral. A lot of this genetic research is focused on methylation and detoxification. According to University of California Davis, “nutritional genomics, or nutrigenomics, is the study of how foods affect our genes and how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients (and other naturally occurring compounds) in the foods we eat.” Genetics cannot be fixed…however, supporting the system can make a profound difference in prevention and treatment of certain conditions.
One of the most commonly discussed methylation and detoxification genetic mutations is MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase). It is estimated that up to 60% of the population has MTHFR. This specific mutation causes an interruption in the methylation pathway which assists the body in converting folic acid/folate to its useable form. Additionally, those with MTHFR have a reduced ability to eliminate toxins and heavy metals.
This mutation has been linked to many ailments, not just autism. It is important to note that having MTHFR does not mean autism or another condition is going to happen. It is just something to be aware of so the body can be supported appropriately.
What can be done?
This is done by removing problematic, inflammatory foods which are heightening the immune response in the body. Also, adding in reparative nutrients and supplements that will help the body to rebuild and repair tissue in gut lining. Many people see incredible positive changes in autistic behaviors just by taking addressing this core issue.
- Dietary Changes.
- Supporting the immune system.
There are many natural ways to do this through dietary means and herbs. One of my favorite additions is elderberry syrup which has loads of benefits and anti-viral properties.
- Full Integrative Approach.
There are many modalities that can improve autism behaviors and symptoms. Speech therapy, ABA therapy, Music therapy, Martial Arts, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic Care, Massage (specifically Craniosacral work), Equine Therapy, and Pet Therapy. These are some that we have engaged in over the years with much success from each one. I believe a wide variety of therapies is the best intervention.
For questions or further information, feel free to Contact Me directly.
Shaik Mohammad N, et. al, Clinical utility of folate pathway genetic polymorphisms in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders., Psychiatr Genet. 2016 Dec;26(6):281-286