This Diet Can Reduce Core Autism Disruptive Symptoms, Say the Mice

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Autism symptoms can sometimes be rather disruptive of one's daily life, often all the more acute in certain environments. Different diets, including the ketogenic diet, have been found to help reduce the worst of the disruptive elements and help deal with everyday stimuli.

Autism is an interesting disorder. It seems to stem from the genes, with a few bio-markers expressly linked to its diagnosis by the age of 2-5. These include:

  • AMT: a gene associated with nonketotic hyperglycinemia and marked by severe seizures as well as infant death.
  • PEX7: when mutated, this gene can cause metabolic and bone abnormalities, cataracts, severe epilepsy and early death.
  • SYNE1: a gene associated with brain malformation, severe motor and muscle problems, as well as the possibility of bipolar disorder.

It is interesting to note that autism expresses itself quite differently between the genders, both on a cognitive and behavioral level. Male children are over 4 times more likely to be diagnosed on the spectrum than their female counterparts, though some researchers wonder if that is not because of a gender bias existing in the testing. Furthermore, if one child is born on the spectrum, the likelihood of your second also having autism can be up to 18%.

The Ketogenic Diet in Human Studies

Speaking of diets, the ketogenic diet was begun in the 1920s in order to treat epilepsy, another disorder that often occurs in children with autism. A pilot study had been conducted looking at the effects of the high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet on 30 children, aged between 4 and 10 years, with autistic behavior. What was found is that 18 of the 30 children showed improvement in their behavior. The others had dropped out of the study for various reasons.

What was found? 11% had significant improvement, 44% average improvement, and 44% mild improvement. Though the significant improvement was not a large number and the study itself was quite preliminary, it opened the door to newer studies which could pinpoint more natural manners of controlling one's most disruptive autistic symptoms.

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The Ketogenic Diet for Autistic Mice

Autistic mice are a great choice for scientific research in the field, providing ample information that could then be used to understand the disorder in the human population. In one particular study, the first to demonstrate improved symptomatology due to a medically established dietary treatment in a mouse model of autism, the most important aspects of one's character that often face problems were looked at. These include:

  • Sociability
  • Communication
  • Repetitive Behavior

It was found that the diet indeed helps improve behavior in these spheres, as well as helping with reducing the onset of seizures and markedly addressing anxiety issues. Improved sleep patterns and quality, alongside reduced sensory disturbances also join the list of benefits the ketogenic diet has.

What Foods in Particular Help Reduce Disruptive Symptoms?

A previous article I had written included a list of 33 foods which come in handy to have at home, a combination of which could greatly improve behavior and reduce overall stress in the home. These include:

  • Warming foods lightly cooked or steamed, such as dry ginger and garlic
  • Root vegetables, including acorn squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, radishes, carrots, button mushrooms and scallions.
  • Grains, including brown and white rice, amaranth, millet, barley and quinoa
  • Legumes, including lima , navy, adzuki, kidney and lentil beans
  • Protein meat, including chicken or turkey that is without additives, hormones and antibiotics.

You might also want to check which foods you should avoid if you want to reduce the meltdowns and the worst of the autistic behavior.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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