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Nutrition & Autism- Part Two: What to Eliminate and Why

Autism is primarily a disorder of the brain, but research suggests that as many as

nine out of ten individuals with the condition also suffer from gastrointestinal

problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs

when the intestines become excessively permeable and then they leak their

contents into the bloodstream. When certain gut microbes cross over into the

blood, over time this can cause inflammation. Inflammation and high inflammatory

toxins in the blood have been associated with a number of brain disorders including

severe depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.


The communication network that connects your gut and brain is termed the gut-

brain axis. The two are connected both physically and biochemically in a number of

different ways. Gut bacteria affect brain health, so changing gut bacteria may

improve brain health. So, how does one go about changing their gut bacteria? Let’s

explore some ideas together.


The first step to improving gut bacteria and improving brain health is to eliminate anything that can hurt the brain. According to Dr. Daniel Amen, “There is one thing that ALL people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) should do, regardless of whether their brains are overactive or under-active…eliminate anything that can

hurt their brain. 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 made ASD

worse: Gluten, Dairy, Corn, Sugar, and Artificial ingredients.”



Gluten is a sticky protein found in grains, most notably, wheat. Its stickiness is why

it’s so commonly used in processed foods as a binder or filler. Today’s wheat, unlike

the wheat our grandparents ate, contains new proteins that have caused an increase

in system inflammation and intolerance of gluten. Your body can also create

antibodies to gluten, which can inflame your brain. Gluten negatively effects the

functioning of the cerebellum (the ‘little brain’ located at the back of the brain and

responsible for higher cognitive and emotional functions) and those with ASD

already have decreased functioning of the cerebellum; gluten can make it much

worse.


In my next post, I will share with you the negative effects dairy, corn, sugar, and

artificial ingredients can have on the brain, particularly in those with autism and

ADHD.


-Shannon Ebbers

Certified Nutrition and Cognitive Therapist

(Special interest in nutrition and learning disabilities )




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