A number of years ago, some of our community members asked me about Asperger's and Autism and how they might fit with sugar sensitivity. Ironically, I was thinking about Autism because of a rescue dog.[some of my more intriguing thoughts have come from that path]. Those reflections prompted me to do a fair amount of research on the topic. When I reread this article, I
was fascinated to see that I wrote earlier was really on target and very helpful. I want to go back and revisit this and see what has been written since. I am thinking about developing a series of special reports so this update can be one of them.
Back to the dog. I got a gorgeous rescue golden retriever named
Delilah. Her people gave her up because she was a *behavioral problem*. I took her and then observed her for a couple of weeks. She would not connect, made no eye contact, and spent her days immobile with her head under the bed. She collected all the dog toys and hoarded them with her there under the bed. She could not cope with new experiences. She was stubborn, willful and terrified of rain and thunder. I worked with her behaviorally for 6 months with no change made.
Eventually, I took her to a homeopathic vet to see if he might offer some perspective. We met for an hour. He said, *I think she is autistic.* He had a remedy for her, but had to order it and said it would take 2 weeks. I figured while I was waiting, I would play with her food and see what happened. I did and in 3 days, this dog was transformed. She connected, she started wagging her tail, she started to play with
the other dogs. Six months more and she was in a loving home being funny and loving. She is at times a little quirky, but they adore her and see her as a normal dog. The transformation got my attention.
Science is still learning what autism is or how to treat it. Basically, researchers admit that they are trying stuff
to see if it makes any difference. And of course, each field will believe that their way is the best way. As I started reading the literature, I found some intriguing connections. I focused on children because the parents had asked for help.
Autistic children generally have high levels of serotonin in their blood platelets, but low levels of *free* serotonin. This means that somehow the serotonin that is in the blood gets bound to the platelets but extra does not float around. This
may mean high serotonin in blood cells, but low serotonin in brain.
One study suggests that this early high level could have an impact on the infant brain. Small babies do not have a formed blood-brain barrier; so high levels of serotonin could cross over and *knock out* or overload the brain. This would mean a dysfunction in the serotonin receptor system. Fewer receptor sites, or impaired receptor binding, could account for the strange combination of no impulse control and obsessive
brain lock we see in autistic children. At any rate, think of impaired serotonin function in your children. It is complex and not really clear, but there is no question that serotonin in some form is implicated.
Research also comments on the fact that autistic children have high beta-endorphin levels. The literature does not reference baseline beta-endorphin but talks about an exaggerated stress response.
Measuring beta-endorphin evokes stress, so the high levels they see may be a function of the exaggerated stress reaction. Stress evokes BE, and generally serotonin modulates the spike. If the serotonin system is impaired, there could be nothing to tone the beta-endorphin spike down so there would be a constant spiking and crashing. Higher BE levels are associated with difficulty in bonding. BE is designed to kill pain, it creates *numb*. This can be life saving in a crisis, but it does not bode
well for bonding. Children treated with a BE blocker actually had fewer autistic symptoms. Researchers used a drug called Naltrexone that sits in beta-endorphin receptor sites and does not allow the heightened BE reaction to charge the system. But it does nothing to heal it. I began thinking, what about food? What do we know and how might we design a food program for your kids. The variables we are working with:
- An impaired serotonin system
- A heightened stress response
- Heightened levels of BE in response to the exaggerate
OK, this simplifies the task. Here's what we want to do:
- Have no blood sugar spiking and crashing. These evoke stress. These children need to eat every 3 hours. Three meals, on time, 2 daytime snacks and an evening snack before bed.
- No BE spiking from sugar and white things
- Increased omega 3 fatty acids to repair the brain. The
brain is made of omega 3 fatty acids. If your child's brain does not have an adequate supply, it will be brittle rather than supple. And a brittle brain overreacts even more.
What does this mean in terms of food?
Increase the protein to make sure that the brain has the amino acids it needs to make serotonin in the brain factory. This means regular and consistent protein. And yes, I know that most
of your children only want to eat carbs. Identify what proteins your kids are willing to try and use those creatively.
Give your children a children's formula of fish oil. Check the DHA formulation we have in the store. I love Nordic Naturals Products and think they are safe and very appropriate for your children.
Ultimately, you will want to move your kids to a food plan that has no wheat, no hard-core dairy (whey protein powder is ok because it does not have casein), and no
Wheat and dairy contain opioid peptides and raise BE levels more. Sugar does the same. Obviously you will not do all of this at once. But you can take out things like soda and move incrementally towards the goal. It make take a while, but at least you can understand the big picture.
Now, at this point, you are probably either laughing or recoiling in horror. You may be thinking, "Kathleen, that is a joke, my child only eats 2 things." I realize we have some major logistics
to get through. I am very pragmatic. But, if you knew that changing your child's food would create a profound improvement, wouldn't you want to at least try? I know you have spent thousands of dollars and have tried 100 other things. We have nothing to lose. Let's share and do problem solving together.
And, of course, it is critical that YOU do the steps. You cannot even think of making these changes with
your child unless you are totally steady. Let's do it together.
And here are the citations. All of the abstracts are on Pub Med if you want to read them. Go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?
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Anderson, G. M., A. W. Zimmerman, et al. (2004).
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