In the 1950’s, autism was so rare that most people had never heard of it. Now one in every fifty American children has some form or autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Autistic symptoms vary but most often impact a child’s social communication skills – leaving him or her perpetually withdrawn, silent, or physically difficult to control.
Is this increase simply a matter of improved diagnostics? Not likely. Parents, teachers, and physicians would not have missed such a clear behavioral disorder. Doctors have theorized about various causes, but parental, fetal, and infant exposures to toxins (not just mercury) do seem related to risk.
On bright spot: Nutritional therapies often reduce symptoms in autistic children. “Some supplements can improve brain chemistry, and vitamin B6 in particular may possibly reduce seizures,” says Stephen Edelson, PhD. executive director of the Autism Research Institute (ARI) in San Diego. Here are some promising approaches.
Diet and supplements may improve brain chemistry in children. It is a good idea to talk to your health care provider before starting a new supplement.
A just published study found a strong link between prenatal pesticide exposure and subsequent development of autism. So, if you are planning to have children, go organic to drastically reduce toxin intake and focus on healthy eating habits long before you or your spouse become pregnant. If you have a child with autism, a gluten-and-casein- free diet often mitigates symptoms, according to an extensive parental survey in 2009 and a 2013 summary of more than 150 published studies. A candida-elimination (sugar-free) diet and the Feingold (additive-free) diet may also help, as does avoiding wheat, refined sugars and carbs, chocolate and eggs.
According to ARI, liver detox regimens and medically supervised chelation therapy (which removes mercury and lead from the body) may also dramatically lessen autism symptoms. Lipoic acid, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and silymarin boost the liver’s ability to break down toxins.
B6, magnesium, DMG, zinc
Several studies by the late Bernard Rimland, PhD, who founded ARI, discovered that a combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium supplements led to significant improvements in autistic children’s behavior. More than 20 studies have since found these nutrients helpful. Edelson adds that dimethylglycine (DMG) and zinc might further reduce symptoms and improve learning. Take these supplements under the guidance of a nutritionally oriented doctor.
Low vitamin D levels during fetal development and infancy might predispose a child to autism, according to a growing body of research. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California suggest that vitamin D supplements might prevent and lessen symptoms.
These nutrients, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential for brain development, and studies show that supplements improve children’s behavior and learning. In a new study, omega-3s led to significant neurological improvements in 8-to-12 year-old children.
Studies have found that autistic children have gut bacteria imbalance – and a more serious imbalance is related to more server autism. Constipation or diarrhea plague up to fifty (50) percent of children with autism.
Benefits of: Chia seeds
Chia? You mean that fuzzy plant?
As a matter of fact, yes. Although chia seeds are used as fun, playful items, they are also edible and extremely nutritious. Chia, or Salvia hispanica, is a species of flowering plant related to mint. This tiny seed measures just 2 centimeters long but packs a powerful punch of nutrients and health benefits to go along with a pleasant, nutty flavor.
Native to Argentina, Paraguay and Mexico, chia seeds originated as a food source for the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. The word chia means “strength,” and both cultures used the seed as an energy booster, making chia the perfect nutritious addition to a variety of healthy dishes.
Each 3-tablespoon serving of chia seeds contains just 160 calories and is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Add to that chia’s 5 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, 20 percent of your daily value of calcium and iron, 10 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, and 8 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C, and you will find it easy to include a serving with every meal.
Studies suggest that eating chia slows down how quickly our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, making the seed a perfect meal add-in for diabetics. The seeds can also assist with overeating issues – chia helps you feel fuller longer, while blocking small amount of calorie absorption due to tis gelling tendency within the GI tract.
Chia also helps the body stay hydrated by absorbing liquid, making it a popular choice for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. To top it off, chia contains more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, establishing the seed as a true heart-healthy food.
Did you know?
A serving of chia seeds contains more nutrients than many popular health foods:
100% more potassium than a banana
200% more iron than spinach
300% more selenium than flax seeds
500% more calcium than whole milk
600% more omega-3 than wild salmon
1,400% more magnesium than broccoli
It is a good idea to talk to your health care provider before starting a new supplement.
This information is intended for general reference purposes only. Neither this information nor transmissions between you and Complete Health Fitness are intended to provide and/or substitute for legal advice, professional medical advice or a medical exam and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment.
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Issue # 106 (Nov/Dec 2003) pp. 102-107
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