Children affected with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have a lower level of antioxidants and detoxification enzymes and are thus more vulnerable to food chemicals like gluteus and environmental toxins. Autistic children usually have a much lower level of antioxidant/detoxification enzymes that makes it more difficult to break down the glutens. While there is no holistic treatment for ASD, a treatment program must address the three major systems in the human body i.e. nervous, immune and digestive.
Triggers of ASD are on the rise globally. The more vulnerable children, come in contact with triggers like gluten. Those exposed to toxins like pesticides, lead, mercury, and passive smoking, have higher ASD levels. Many studies have claimed that supplemental nutrients like vitamin, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, are likely to provide moderate benefit to the ASD patients.
Intolerance and allergies to food and food-related activities also affects ASD. Removing the potentially allergic foods like gluten, revealed mixed results on autistic children. A Norwegian study has found out that 10 autistic children having gluten-free diet for a year, improved on autistic traits, motor skills, and cognition, to a much greater extent, than 10 children who were given a standard diet. Other studies have revealed that children with ASD have higher chances of intestinal permeability (leaking gut syndrome).
While a gluten-free diet is imperative for all children with ASD, some researchers have even suggested that oral pro-biotic bacterial supplements could be useful for treating autism. The effect of food additives, refined sugar and gluten on ASD, however, is debatable. A sample of 16 children with ASD revealed that sugar challenges were involved with worsened inattention among four children, little change among 11, and improvements in only one child. Foods free from artificial coloring, gluten, and preservatives, were widely used for treating children with ASD, since they were introduced way back in the 1970s.
Besides food colors and gluten, benzoate, monosodium glutamate, nitrates and benzoate can worsen the symptoms of ASD among children. Foods that contain salicylates, like oranges, almonds, apples, raspberries, grapes, cherries, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, plums, and cucumber, are also known to worsen the symptoms.
A meta-analysis of 15 placebo-controlled, double blind studies have found that artificially added colors like tartrazine, increased the symptoms considerably. Five analyses stated that gluten and food colors were associated with increased ASD symptoms, eight showed that gluten and food colors had no significant effect, and only two showed a decreasing effect on autism.
ASD usually involves a broad range of prenatal, genetic, social, nutritional, environmental and developmental factors. There is no one single cause that leads to the disorder or any one common factor that can be found among all the affected. Multiple modalities of treatment are required for each person that usually calls for environmental, nutritional, pharmacological and psychosocial interventions.
All children born on this planet have many hurdles to overcome. For those having ASD, the obstacles become more difficult. Compassion and scientific nutrition habits and social skill teaching can transform their lives. ASD children are as mainstream people as any other.