Antioxidants protect cells from damage and/or death caused by free radicals. Free radicals are created when the body encounters toxins and attempts to neutralize them. If the body does not have enough antioxidants, free radicals cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with developmental delay and neurological disorders, as well as many other diseases processes. Recent studies show greater oxidative stress in children with autism. Other studies show that antioxidant nutrients can improve autistic symptoms. Oxidative stress creates a tremendous amount of inflammation that contributes to language, social and cognitive impairment. There are a number of studies that can be found at www.generationrescue.com under the science section.
One example of how high oxidative stress disrupts the system is in the breakdown of DOPAMINE in the digestive tract. Dysregulated dopamine levels are responsible for many symptoms and behaviours in children with ASD and AD/HD.
High dopamine levels lead to many issues including:
- Transitional tantrums
- Sensory issues – turns up the volume on all of our senses
- Processing and organizational issues
- Self-stimulating behaviour
- Fixations and obsessive behaviour
Environmental toxicity increases the need for antioxidants as the body attempts to neutralize the harmful substances. Heavy metals, pesticides, PCBs, fire retardants and other chemicals cause damage to cells, nerves, tissues, enzymes and organ systems.
Antioxidants rich foods include:
- Lemons, oranges and grapefruit
- Kale, spinach and broccoli
- Green tea
- Millet, quinoa, brown rice
- Vitamins A, E and C
- Minerals (ex. Selenium)