Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a range of conditions characterized by some degree of impaired behaviour, communication, language, narrow range of interest and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively, appears to be on the rise globally, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) studies conducted over the past 50 years.
ASDs begins in childhood and tends to progress into adolescence and adulthood. These children often have problems like epilepsy, depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Data released by WHO reveals that worldwide one in 160 children have ASD.
So, intervention in childhood is important to promote optimal development and well-being of people with an ASD. Conventional treatment is based on the combination of behavioral and diet therapy together with pharmacotherapy.
It is very important to make dietary adjustments, including how the diet is consumed, when treating autism. An appropriate dietary intervention allows for quick relief of the disease symptoms and should be complementary to pharmacotherapy and behavioral therapy.
Reducing intake of certain food products and dishes is associated with reduced incidence of numerous gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerance and allergies, infections, together with biological and viral infections.
Diets that appears to benefit those with ASD include CFGF diet (gluten free-casein free diet) through restricting consumption of dairy products and gluten based products; KETOGENIC DIET (high fat diet with minimal carbs intake), SCD (specific carbohydrate diet), LOW OXALATE diet(oxalate is a chemical found in plant source like berries, apple, papaya, cauliflower, corn, potato, etc.).
As children with ASD may not get the desired nutrition they need for healthy growth and development, these limited diets should be planned with the help of a nutrition specialist who can help ensure that the child is still getting all the nutrients that he or she needs to grow into a healthy adult, even while on a special diet.
GI tract and the gut - brain - axis have a central role in autism. Microorganisms with specific probiotic properties can help increase the body's utilization of food and vitamin synthesis
together with inhibiting the development of certain pathogens and compromising immunity
Specialist consider vitamin D can reduce the risk of autism by supporting the proper development of the brain and immune system. Vitamin D has neuro protective properties and may improve the interaction of neurotransmitters in the brain and hormones which influence patients behavior. Supplementation and 60 min play in sunlight also helps to improve vitamin D balance in the body as such involve children in outdoor fun activities and let them explore the world to connect with other people.
(The writer, a Lifestyle Coach and Diet Counsellor, has relied on WHO, different specialized medical journals and research papers as a source for the article)