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Nutrition & Autism- Part Three: What to Eliminate, Cont’d

As discussed in my previous post, in order to improve brain function, one must have

a healthy gut. We concluded that the top 5 foods to eliminate in order to improve

gut bacteria are: gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, and artificial ingredients. We unpacked

the inflammatory effects of gluten, and today we will consider the other 4 foods and

why they should be eliminated.

Casein, a protein found in dairy and difficult to digest, can trigger a similar reaction

as gluten. In people with leaky gut, these proteins can pass through the intestinal

wall and cause problems such as: brain fog, inability to concentrate, and a numbness to pain. According to Dr. Amen, when people with ASD removed dairy from their diet, they began talking more, their hyperactivity was reduced, and bowel problems were resolved.

According to the USDA, corn is the top pesticide-using crop in the nation. There is

more and more research showing a potential link between the exposure to the

herbicide glyphosate and the risk of autism. Additionally, in comparison with other

grains, corn has the most unhealthy fatty acid profile, being high in inflammatory

Omega-6 fatty acids. According to a 2015 study, corn is also a breeding ground for


Sugar is pro-inflammatory, and in excess impairs both our cognitive skills and self-

control. Sugar increases erratic brain cell firing as well. In addition to it being

extremely addictive, research shows that children with autism often have poor

metabolism of sugars, caused by a lack of enzymes and transporters needed for their

digestion. According to Dr. Amen, “Avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates and

increasing lean protein consumption can dramatically improve concentration and

judgment, and decrease impulsiveness.”

Now let’s touch on the impact of artificial ingredients that are added to so many

foods. These include additives, preservatives, dyes and artificial colors, as well as

artificial sweeteners. According to Dr. Josh Axe, “Children with autism, especially

those with ADHD, can be sensitive to a variety of food dyes and colorings.” A 2007

study in the U.K. showed that artificial colors and/or the common preservative

Sodium Benzoate increased hyperactivity in children. A 2019 study suggests that

the preservatives found in processed foods may be linked to the spike in autism. In

addition, the artificial ingredients on our food supply may possibly be linked to

autism symptoms, according to research.

In the next part, we will continue the discussion by talking about the importance of

healing the gut and other steps that can be taken to achieve this.

-Shannon Ebbers

Nutrition and Cognitive Therapist

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