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Autism Diet, Nutrition


Autism or the ‘escape from reality’ refers to a developmental disorder seen in early childhood. An autistic child finds it difficult to interact in social circles, communicate properly, and coordinate his/her activities well. Autism is believed to stem from genetic, hereditary, or neurological imbalances.

Children who display symptoms of autistic behavior have been seen to improve, to a considerable extent, when put on an autism diet. An autism diet mainly tries to avoid the content of gluten and casein in food.

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Gluten refers to the protein found in wheat, rye, oats, barley, and the kind. Casein, on the other hand, refers to milk protein found in milk and milk products like yoghurt, butter, cheese, buttermilk and clarified butter. Autism diet menu includes brown rice, fiber rich and starchy carbohydrates, beans, different kinds of gram and legumes, fresh green, leafy vegetables, and fruits. An autism diet provides delayed release of energy and nutrients throughout the day.

Diet Plan:

Autism diet plan comprises naturally occurring fresh vegetables and fruits. Processed foods that are high in sodium and sugars are best avoided. Breakfast may include fresh fruit, fortified cereals, or rice dishes and lean meat like chicken or turkey slices. Lunch would mainly consist of a serving of meat, baked beans or legumes, vegetables, and foods consisting of omega-3-fatty oils like fish. Supper can be relatively light, and again include smaller servings of carbohydrates, proteins, and lean meat or fish. Snacks could be a handful of nuts or dried fruits. Seasonal fruits, eaten fresh, are also a good snack between meals, if required. The autism diet plan should mainly try to avoid foods that contain casein and gluten. It is considered that they are not digested well in the body, and the resulting opiate like proteins trigger autistic behavior in children. Also see diet chart for kids

Autism foods should be carefully selected in the diet menu of children so that they do not trigger any negative behavioral responses. Gluten is believed to remain in undigested form as opiate proteins, which have a detrimental effect on the nervous system. Gluten is present in wheat, rye, barley, oats, bran, and so on. Gluten free foods for autism that can be safely consumed include a diet consisting of bread or cereals made of rice, corn, arrow root, soy, millet, tapioca and potato. Foods to eat with autism ought to be rich in complex carbohydrates and proteins. Vitamins and minerals should also be obtained from the diet in addition to essential fatty acids. They can be had as supplements or obtained from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Foods To Avoid:

Processed foods and added sugars should be avoided in an autism diet. Artificial flavorings and coloring agents, spices and seasonings can act as triggers to autistic behavior. In addition to these, foods to avoid with autism include those that contain gluten and casein. Chocolates, sweets, cookies and baked foods, fast foods, and highly refined carbohydrates are believed to be foods that cause autism. They are not well digested, and the undigested gluten and milk protein cause harmful effect on the brain cells.

Vitamins, Supplements & Herbs For Autistic Children


Vitamins:

The body of children who are autistic contains many toxins, and hence, further medication may not find much effect. Autism can also be characterized by unhealthy digestive tracts in children. Hence, many of the essential vitamins are found lacking in them. Vitamins for autism help in improving the symptoms of the condition. Vitamin B for autism is believed to relieve the symptoms of poor eating habits in children. Vitamin B helps in the correct metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. Some children find the vitamin B to be unpalatable in powder or tablet form. Hence, at times liquid vitamins for autism are prescribed by medical practitioners. Vitamin therapy for autism has been found beneficial in treating sleep and behavioral imbalances in children. Vitamin B6 for autism is essential in the body for the production of pyroxidal-5-phosphate that is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins in the body. Vitamin B12 for autism is also another vitamin of the B group that is beneficial for the development of the brain. Methyl cobalamine in vitamin B12 aids the regeneration and development of the central nervous system. This, in addition with other B vitamins and folic acid, help to calm autistic children and help them sleep better. The vitamins boost the brain development and rectify its disturbed mental state.

Nutrition:

Nutrition for autism is considered to be effective in children when a gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet is followed. Autism nutrition therapy aims at relieving the symptoms of autism through a carefully chosen diet that does not trigger further behavioral imbalances. Children with autism are fed a well-balanced diet comprising rice meals, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish and nuts, in addition to vitamin and mineral supplements. Autism nutrition treatment initially takes off gluten foods and dairy products from an autistic child’s diet. Sometimes, withdrawal symptoms may surface. Yet, in the long run, the diet is believed to calm their temperament.

Supplements:

Autistic children, mostly have a defective digestive system and hence, need additional supplements. Supplements for autism include vitamins and minerals that are essential for the regeneration and development of the brain cells. Vitamin supplements for autism mainly include the B group vitamins, especially methyl cobalamine. In addition, nutritional supplements for autism are also prescribed by physicians. They include folic acid and supplements providing magnesium. They boost the growth of the cells in the brain and thus ward off autistic behavioral patterns.

Herbs:

Herbs for autism are used to provide a calming effect on children exhibiting autistic behavior. Natural herbs for autism include passiflora and St John’s wort that alleviate frustrating behavior in children. Gingko biloba, which is among the Chinese herbs for autism, helps to increase circulation to the brain. This rejuvenates the brain development in autistic children. Cayenne is also another herb that boosts oxygen to the central nervous system.

Symptoms, Causes & Treatment For Autism


Symptoms:
  • Difficulty in communication and interaction with people in public
  • Repetitive actions of the child while playing alone
  • Frustrated and agitated mental state, resulting in erratic behavioral patterns

Causes:

  • Genetic imbalances
  • Heavy metal toxicity is being researched as a cause for autism
  • Gluten and casein in diet is also believed to be a cause for autism

Treatment:

There is no medical autism treatment, except a dietary change of excluding gluten and casein from the diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements can also be prescribed by doctors for autism.

Prevention:

  • Try to eat organic food that is fresh and not treated with pesticides.
  • Reduce the consumption of milk and dairy products.
  • Remove gluten from your diet.
  • Try to avoid antibiotics as far as possible.

Diagnosis:

Autism diagnosis is not done with a medical test. On physical examination, the doctor notes the response of the child to stimuli. He/she also notes the previous history of behavior patterns to ascertain the presence of autism.

Submitted on January 17, 2014
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