Having seen more than 1,000 patients with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at Amen Clinics, one of the first lessons we learned is that the condition is not caused by one specific thing in the brain; there are actually 8-10 different factors that influence abnormal brain function.
For some with ASD, we see brains that are wildly overactive – often due to an inflammatory process. For others, we see brains with dramatic under-activity, that may be due to a toxin or some type of insult or injury to the brain.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to look at brain function when coming up with a treatment plan for ASD. Throwing medication-tipped darts in the dark can hurt people. But there is one thing that ALL people with ASD should do regardless of whether their brains are overactive or under-active…eliminate anything that can hurt their brain.
Along those lines, it is important to realize that the food you eat is either medicine or it is poison. Here are the top 5 foods to avoid as they can make ASD worse.
When casein (one of the proteins in dairy) mixes with stomach acid, it produces something called an exorphin. Exorphins bind to the opioid receptor sites and can result in a myriad of troubles – brain fog, spaciness, inability to concentrate, and a numbness to pain, just to name a few.
In our experience, when people with ASD removed dairy from their diet, they began talking more, their hyperactivity was reduced, and bowel problems were resolved.
A mixture of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, gluten can increase inflammation when ingested. In fact, your body can create antibodies to gluten which can fire up, or inflame, your brain.
Gluten seems to particularly negatively affect the functioning of the cerebellum. Through our imaging work, we have discovered that those with ASD already often have decreased functioning of their cerebellum – consuming gluten can just make it much worse.
Eighty-five percent of the corn raised in the United States is raised with pesticide. Additionally, it has the most unhealthy fatty-acid profile of any grain…yes, you read that right, GRAIN. Corn is NOT a vegetable. Corn has been found to be a breeding ground for as many as 22 different fungi. There is simply nothing truly beneficial and many potentially harmful things that can come from eating corn.
Not only is sugar pro-inflammatory, it also increases erratic brain cell firing and it is very addictive. For many folks with ASD, it is likely that they had some type of insulin to their brain so when they consume sugar, the damage from the insulin is just magnified.
Avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates and increasing lean protein can dramatically improve concentration and judgment, and decrease impulsiveness.
5) ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS
While these things are not really “foods”, they are unfortunately in so many food products that we wanted to list them here. Avoid all additives, preservatives, dyes and artificial colors, artificial flavorings, and artificial sweeteners.
Autism is a multi-faceted and misunderstood condition; Amen Clinics can help decipher the right treatments and protocols. If you would like to learn more, please visit us online or call 888-288-9834.