smiley riley

Nutritional Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder

smiley riley

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms typically appear in the first two years of life. The number of children being diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum is a quickly snowballing challenge of our day. ASD is estimated to affect over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. This includes the diagnoses of autism, Aspergers, ADD & ADHD.

While lowering stress, incorporating connection, curiosity and play are crucial in therapy, nutritional support helps create a more receptive environment to the other therapeutic modalities at play. For children with ASD, a nutritious, balanced diet can make a world of difference in their ability to learn, how they manage their emotions and how they process information. Every single person and situation is unique and there are no guarantees, but if you believe your child has the potential for MORE in life, I encourage you to consider optimizing their nutrition.

The first thing to do is eliminate processed foods and excess sugar.

Sugar and processed foods are hard on the system and also feed the candida population in our digestive tract. Candida create holes in our gut (leading to allergies) and produce over 70 different toxins, both factors contributing to an exhausted, hyper-vigilant immune system & a heavy toxic load. They also create inflammation in the body and brain which is not at all supportive of living your best life. If you have enough in your budget I’d also consider adding in digestive enzymes & probiotics to improve the gut environment, support digesting and speed up results.

A special note about food dyes, MSG & aspartame: Most food dyes contain heavy metals (which are highly toxic and very difficult to get rid of once they’re in the body). MSG and aspartame are excito-toxins that literally excite our cells to death. It’s best to keep a close eye out for these as people with ASD are already dealing with a compromised immune system.

After processed foods and excess sugar are successfully removed, you may want to consider removing gluten and dairy to see how that might help.

When gluten and casein (dairy protein) break down in our gut they create properties called exomorphins, which mimic your body’s morphine-like endorphins. They have the same effect on the body as opiates, creating symptoms of euphoria and intoxication. It’s no surprise that the ones most allergic are addicted.  Statistically, about 60% of cases notice an improvement once gluten and dairy are removed.

Dietary changes can be a real challenge for anybody; people with ASD tend to be especially particular about the foods they eat. Start with one thing at a time, keep things low stress, and try and find substitutes for the foods you want to remove.

Remember… Attitude is everything. People with ASD have amazing BS detectors and can see right through your behavior. The best results come when you can remain calm, curious and playful throughout the process. As they say, first let THEM show you the way in, and then YOU can begin to show them the way out.

If you’d like support during this process, send me a message! I can help you learn to identify tricky food labelling, create grocery lists, introduce recipes that compare to what your child already enjoys and much more, helping make these dietary changes a lasting success!

Why am I passionate about helping people with ASD?

Because I can relate. I too am highly sensitive & particular. I’ve suffered digestive, emotional & social challenges from a young age. I have a Holistic nutrition education with 2 years into practice. I appreciate and respect our individuality & have always loved solving puzzles (which we all are) – through curiosity and a deep passion to understand. People generally feel safe and comfortable opening up to me, and I am passionate about connecting with others and helping them overcome obstacles.

The Importance of a Balanced Microbiome

80-85% of our immunity is located in our gut wall. Our microbiome is like the right hand of our immune system. If it’s compromised, then your immune system is left to do it’s job with one hand tied behind it’s back. On top of that, exposure to a whole host of toxic by-products from the opportunistic bacteria that is now dominating your gut keeps your immune system fighting an uphill battle. Eventually the gut becomes damaged and leaky, allowing invaders and undigested food to escape the gut and enter your blood stream – which your immune system also has to deal with, in addition to being malnourished, compromised, unbalanced and intoxicated. This is also how many allergies/intolerances develop. Good news is once you restore a healthy balance, those allergies/intolerances often disappear!

Here are some key reasons we must support our beneficial bacteria

1-Our healthy indigenous gut bacteria can neutralize many toxic substances (like nitrates, indoles, phenols etc), as well as chelating heavy metals and other poisons.

2-Antibiotics wipe out good and bad bacteria, but leave some microbes untouched (like Candida) allowing it opportunity to overgrow

3-Without protection from a health layer of beneficial bacteria, we become vulnerable to anything that comes along, as well as the opportunistic bacteria already present (which require management from beneficial bacteria otherwise they overgrow & wreak havoc)

4-When our beneficial bacteria is compromised, not only do we lose its protection, but also the nourishment it provides in assisting digestion, producing vitamins, hormones and neurotransmitters. Did you know our gut derives 60-70% of it’s energy from bacterial activity?

5-If our microbiome is damaged, the best foods and supplements you can buy may not be broken down, digested and absorbed.

6-Our beneficial bacteria produce a constant steady stream of K2, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, amino acids, hormones, neurotransmitters and much more. Without a healthy colony, there will be periods in the day where you’ll be deficient, even with supplementation.

So what damages out gut?

1-Antibiotics (whether prescribed, in our meat, or sprayed onto our produce)

2-Chlorine in our tap water

3-Other prescription drugs (steroids, birth control, sleeping pills, heartburn medication)

4-Diet (sugar and processed carbs support fungi, parasites and opportunistic bacteria)

5-Chronic stress

6-Environmental pollution/toxins

Our bodies are all capable of dealing with a certain level of exposure (some more than others), but every body has a breaking point, and in our current modern day lifestyle, many bodies are chronically being pushed past theirs.

If you’d like to learn more, and find out how to support your own microbiome, check out some of my other posts here & here, or book an appointment with me here.

Mental Health, Digestion and our Microbiome

It’s now widely common knowledge that our gut microbiome influences our digestion, allergies, metabolism and mental health. We’re also realizing how much our brain can influence gut health.

gut-brain

Imbalances in our gut microbiome can eventually lead to systemic inflammation including in your brain, leading to brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, depression and so much more. Going in the other direction, stress (whether conscious or not, acute or chronic) inhibits our digestive function, leading to nutritional deficiencies and an imbalanced microbiome.Continue reading

Sweet Potato Nachos

If you follow my blog posts, you’ll know that I recently had some allergy testing done over at Life Labs on O’Connor. One of the foods I scored high for was corn (which surprised me) and left me wondering how I would manage my love of nachos. I also scored moderately high for wheat so basically all nacho chips are off limits for me.

Luckily, I figured out a pretty delicious (and healthy) substitute – sweet potato chips!Continue reading

Candida: a Likely Culprit to your Chronic Symptoms

Candida LOVES sugar!!

Candida is a microscopic organism that typically lives harmlessly in people. A single-cell organism, Candida reproduces asexually and thrives on some of the body’s byproducts: dead tissue and sugars from food. However, if your inner ecosystem is out of balance and your immunity is weakened, you are at risk for Candida overgrowth. Unless its environment is altered and its food sources eliminated, it quickly monopolizes entire body systems, such as the digestive tract, and causes moderate to severe symptoms.Continue reading

11 Reasons to Hire a Holistic Nutritionist

Nutrition advice is everywhere: talk shows, newspaper headlines, news feeds, personal trainers, friends, and even family members. But how do you know what information is accurate? It can be pretty overwhelming as what seemed healthy one week may be considered unhealthy the next. This is one of the many reasons you should hire a nutritionist – to help you sort out the fact from the fiction.

Nutrition and lifestyle changes have an incredible impact on your overall well being when you make small modifications over time (not all at once). I’ve seen people heal their digestive problems, overcome emotional eating, and reduce their dependence on over-the-counter medication for things like heartburn or chronic migraines. I’ve seen people become energized and vibrant simply by making small and steady changes to their diet and lifestyle.Continue reading

The importance of SLEEP

Sleep is just as crucial for optimal health as nutrition and exercise. There are so many important processes going on while you’re sleeping. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.

Ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.Continue reading