Best Foods for ASD Patients
Group of patients with ASD frequently have repetitive behaviors. ASD patients have constricted, obsessive compulsive interests. Such behavior can have an effect on eating habits and food choices. This type of behavior can result in deficiencies causing serious health concerns:
- Less intake of Food. Due to difficulty in focusing on one task for an extended period, it may be tough for an ASD Patient to sit down and eat a complete meal in one go.
- Restricted Food Choice and Wide Food Dislikes. ASD Patients are sensitive to the taste, smell color and/or texture foods, resulting in limited or no intake of several foods or groups of foods. Dislikes usually include fruits, vegetables and slippery, soft foods.
- Medication Effects. Few medicines can lower appetite, resulting in poor health and hampering growth of children. Other medications may increase appetite or affect the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.
Important Constituents of ASD Patient Diet
Humans need certain essential nutrients for their bodies to function, including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids (from protein). A balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, protein, and certain fats is important to help provide those key nutrients.
1. Vitamins and Minerals.
Vitamins and minerals can have a
potent effect on body function and behavior, so start at a low dose (1/10 of that below) and then gradually increasing over 3 – 4 weeks. Iron should be added only if a test indicates a need for iron this is a common problem in children under 5 years. Low iron is a leading cause of mental retardation.
2. Vitamin B6 with Magnesium. 30-40% of children and adults with autism benefited from high dose supplementation of vitamin B6 with magnesium.
3. Essential Fatty Acids. They exist in the cell membrane of
every cell, and roughly 20% of an infant’s brain is composed of essential fatty acids. Mother’s milk is very rich in essential fatty acids, but some infant formulas lack this key ingredient needed for brain development. Two general categories of essential fatty acids are omega -3 and omega-6. Studies have found that children with autism have lower levels of omega–3 fatty acids than the general population.
4. Digestive Enzymes. Different enzymes are needed for different types of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Children with autism sometimes have low levels of certain enzymes, or less active enzymes, or both. Take a digestive enzyme with each meal, usually at the start of the meal. Use enzymes that are as complete as possible.
5. Gut Bacteria. Most of gut bacteria are beneficial, helping with food digestion and water balance, producing some vitamins, and limiting the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast. One of the most striking differences in the medical history of children with autism is that several studies have reported much higher use of oral antibiotics (usually
for ear infections) in infancy of children with autism compared to controls. These oral antibiotics will destroy most of the beneficial gut bacteria, and thus increase the risk of overgrowth of harmful bacteria and/or yeast. Yeast feed on sugar and simple carbohydrates, so reducing or avoiding those foods is important.
6. Carnitine. Carnitine is important for energy production to fuel the body and the brain. Carnitine can be made by the body to a limited extent, but much of it comes from our diet, especially beef and pork. People who eat limited amounts of beef and pork are at higher risk of carnitine deficiency. Carnitine is widely used as an over – the – counter nutritional supplement, and it is also available by prescription. Carnitine is available as both l carnitine and acetyl-l-carnitine. Both forms are useful sources of carnitine, and the body can convert them to one another. Acetyl-l-carnitine form is more beneficial due to the acetyl group, which can help make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Acetyl-l-Carnitine has also been found to be neuroprotective.9.
7. Melatonin. Many children and adults with autism have sleep problems; Melatonin is the hormone the body naturally produces at nighttime to regulate sleep. It is formed from the neurotransmitter serotonin, so low serotonin levels can cause low melatonin levels. Melatonin production is reduced by light, and even a simple nightlight can greatly decrease melatonin production. So, first try eliminating all sources of light. For problems falling asleep, first try a behavioral approach, including a regular nighttime routine If sleep problems persist, start with melatonin
8. Thyroid Treatment. Poor thyroid function due to lack of
iodine is the major cause of mental retardation in the world, Iodine is required for normal thyroid functioning, If iodine levels are low, then one can begin with iodine supplementation. If that does not normalize thyroid levels, then one can consider thyroid supplements.
9. Pro-biotics. Pro-biotics are found in fermented foods such as kefir, non-dairy yogurt, fermented cod liver oil and cultured vegetables. Foods high in pre-biotics are also high in beneficial soluble fiber and include bananas, asparagus, beans/legumes, garlic, kefir/yogurt, leeks, onions and peas.
10. Organic Foods. Animal products that are grass-fed or pastured offer a much higher nutrient content and eliminate harmful chemicals and hormones. Similarly organic fruits and vegetables are free from many harmful chemicals.