Autism & Gut Health - Autism Services in Newport Beach, CA
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders that were previously diagnosed separately, including autism, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder NOS (not otherwise specified). The CDC estimates that autism spectrum disorders now impact 1 in every 88 children, but the number of ASD cases are on the rise.
Autism manifests in early childhood and interferes with the child's learning, communication and social interaction. Characterized by restricted focus, limited speech and repetitive behaviors or activities, autism severely impairs functioning in social, educational and occupational roles. Risk factors include: (1) the sex of the child, with males over four times more likely to be affected; (2) family history of autism; (3) genetic condition like fragile x syndrome; (4) certain drugs ingested during pregnancy; or (5) children born to older parents.
Officially, autism and autism spectrum disorder have no established cause or cure, but emerging research suggests that with autism, food allergies and gut health issues may have a contributing role in the disease process. Likewise, an autism gut bacteria diet has been shown in some cases to reverse autism's effects, as have autism food allergy elimination diets.
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare professional in Newport Beach that can help you implement a gut bacteria autism treatment plan, call (949) 202-5268 or contact Dr. Debra Hill online.
Understanding the Autism Food Allergy Theory
Recent research has increasingly unveiled the link between food allergies and sensitivities and autism spectrum disorders. Statistically, allergies in general, but especially food allergies, are seen more often in autism cases, as autistic children are not just sensitive in their five senses but in their immune system's reactions as well. Also, children with autism are well known to suffer gastrointestinal issues (like nausea, constipation or diarrhea), as well as exhibit pronounced aversion to certain foods or be "picky eaters."
While your healthcare provider can test for a definitive food allergy, a food sensitivity or allergy can impact autistic children more severely and be harder to diagnose if they cannot communicate a discomfort. Eliminating foods for at least two weeks then reintroducing the food and observing the child's symptoms is perhaps the best way to help your healthcare provider diagnose autism food sensitivities. Diets which restrict certain foods like gluten-free and casein-free diets and increase the intake of high-antioxidant foods are often recommended. Increasingly, though, the autism gut bacteria diet has been receiving the greatest attention.
Autism & Gut Bacteria
Human gut health relies upon the proper balance and functioning of "healthy" bacteria in the intestine or "gut." These bacteria feed on and help to digest foods in the digestive tract while contributing to proper immune function. Modern lifestyle choices are thought to have disrupted the balance of healthy gut bacteria. When there is an absence of healthy gut bacteria, or an overabundance of bad strains of bacteria in the gut, the entire immune system is believed to be disrupted and multiple disease processes may be impacted.
Caretakers of children with autism have long observed bowel problems in ASD children, providing anecdotal evidence of the correlation between autism and digestive issues. In fact, many children with autism have abnormal or less-diverse gut bacteria which can contribute to autism symptoms in both the gut and the rest of the body, including the brain.
With autism linked to gut bacteria issues, there are two means to alter or improve gut health to restore beneficial bacteria to the gut, thereby lessening or alleviating certain gastrointestinal symptoms: probiotic supplements or foods with probiotic or prebiotic effect. While there are various gut-health diet regimens, perhaps the most recognized diet for gut health - particularly in dealing with autism - is the GAPS diet.
Autism GAPS Diet
The GAPS diet is a meal plan designed to repair the gut, balance gut bacteria, eliminate toxins from the body and promote natural healing. It is often recommended for those with inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal permeability, autoimmune disease, depression and autism.
The GAPS diet autism recovery plan focuses on three areas: nutrition, supplementation and detoxification. The GAPS diet restricts the following foods: grains, starches, processed/refined carbohydrates and commercial dairy. It encourages easily-digestible and nutrient-dense food choices, focusing on vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and fermented foods. Supplementation is specialized but because research has highlighted the link between probiotics and autism, it almost always includes probiotics and prebiotics, as well as essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fish oil. The detoxification protocol includes special blended drinks, juicing and enemas, as well as limiting exposure to chemicals, heavy metals and other environmental toxins.
The research is clear that intervention before age 3 can be crucial to help children with autism improve development in speech, motor skills and social interaction. The same is true for isolating food allergies or gut health issues that may be impacting your child's condition. Alert your healthcare professional as soon as you see symptoms that suggest your child might have autism or other developmental issues. A complete discussion of risk factors, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and diet options can be provided to you by your healthcare provider.
If your child has an autism spectrum disorder, the GAPS diet which focuses on the restoration of gut bacteria or a diet restricting foods your child may be sensitive or allergic to, can be life-changing. Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare professional in Newport Beach that specializes in helping you design a gut bacteria diet for autism treatment! Call (949) 202-5268 or contact Dr. Debra Hill online.
Debra A Hill, MD
Address2240 University Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660