Treating Autism with Diet

Biomedical treatment of autism with diet improves behaviour and development:

The foundation of biomedical treatment is using diet to improve autism symptoms and optimize development.  While there are different “diets” recommending for autism, the research on which foods help the brain is very clear. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have funded two transformative research projects that clearly identify that our gut, brain and genes are all intricately connected.  The Human Genome Project and the Human Microbiome Project are changing the way we understand human health and the food that we eat.

Dietary intervention transforms the brain, in autism as well as other neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.  Feeding the “good microbes” in the gut improves brain function.  Removing certain foods from the diet improves genetic expression, which also enhances the brain’s ability to function.

The medical issues in autism include:

Medical researchers and experts, including Dr. Martha Herbert, Pediatric Neurologist and Assistant Professor at Harvard University, agree that the information coming out of the Human Genome Project and the Human Microbiome Project makes it clear that environmental toxins and abnormal gut bacteria are combining to create the “perfect storm” of circumstances that are contributing to the dramatic rise in autism. World numbers are as high as 1 in 27 children with autism.  the good news is that diet is accessible to every child.


Biomedical Diet Intervention for Autism:

90-95% of the diet should include:

  • Meat
  • Fish – see healthy fish guide
  • Vegetables – no white potato and minimize sweet potato
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Eggs

5-10% of the diet can include:

  • Lentils
  • Beans including chickpeas
  • Starchy seeds like quinoa and buckwheat
  • Sweet potato
  • Starches for baking – tapioca, arrowroot powder

Remove 100% from diet:

  • Grains including gluten, corn and rice
  • Dairy including all animal milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Less than 6 tsp of sugar daily which is equivalent to 24 grams
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • White potatoes
  • Processed food

Additional suggestions:

  • Most people benefit from removing beans and lentils for a few months
  • Food should be nutrient dense
  • Focus on low glycemic index foods
  • Fiber is very important to support digestion and detoxification
  • Good fats are the key to brain function

In summary:

Dietary intervention is reduces inflammation, heals the digestive system and optimizes nutrient absorption.  Removing grains and dairy while increasing good fats creates a modified ketogenic dietary approach that improves methylation, cell danger response, immunoexcitotoxicity and mitochondrial function.  Treating autism with diet improve can improve language, social and cognitive skills while reducing behaviours.

Some great books that discuss this dietary approach include:

  • The Autism Revolution – Martha Herbert, Phd, MD
  • Grain Brain – David Perlmutter, MD
  • Brain Maker – David Perlmutter, MD
  • Gut and Psychology Syndrome – Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD
  • Breaking the Vicious Cycle – Elain Gottschall, BA, MSc