How Nutrition, Proper Specific Hydration, Inflammation, and Body Flora affect Autism

(Peer Review Acceptance)

To see the article below on ResearchGate click Here.

By Keith David Kantor, PhD

Autism- a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

Let’s examine the symptoms of Autism. Although the exact cause of Autism is unknown, ongoing research has made progress in the treatment and therapy for autistic children.

  • A delay in learning to talk, or not talking at all. A child may seem to be deaf, even though hearing tests are normal.
  • Repeated and overused types of behavior, interests, and play. Examples include repeated body rocking, unusual attachments to objects, and getting very upset when routines change.
  • There is no “typical” person with autism. People can have many different kinds of behaviors, from mild to severe. Parents often say that their child with autism prefers to play alone and does not make eye contact with other people. Some young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to never see friends, never get called by friends, never be invited to activities and be socially isolated. (3)
  • Please also note that some autistic children are affectionate and social! Nonetheless, many people with autism do indeed have a social appetite. They yearn for connection with others. We need better ways of supporting positive social connection and of preventing social isolation.”

Autism may also include other concerns such as:

  • Many children with autism have below-normal intelligence, but show extreme intelligence in specific subjects like math, art, and comprehension.
  • Teenagers with autism often become depressed and have a lot of anxiety, especially if they have average or above-average intelligence. The controlled environments of school aged teens are not ideal for autistic teens.
  • Some children may get a seizure disorder such as epilepsy by their teen years.

Inflammation response genes perpetually switched on in autistic brains

Inflammation effects Autism in many ways, one of them being the insulin mechanism. Excess inflammation can cause carbohydrate and sugar cravings, leading to poor insulin regulation thus stimulating the opiate receptors in the brain and triggering addictive behaviors along with detrimental health consequences. (10) Excessive sugar consumption especially from processed sources can amplify negative autistic behaviors. A pregnant woman with gestational diabetes is also associated with increased risk of autism developing in the unborn child. (12)

In the latest study, researchers found the brains of people with autism have inflammation response genes that are perpetually switched on. Microglial cells “police” the brain for threats and pathogens, the researchers say. After analyzing the brains, the researchers discovered that in the brains of individuals with autism, the microglia were constantly activated and their inflammation response genes were turned on. (11)

Physical Brain Structure and Autism

The bottom line is that we can now effectively model idiopathic ASD using a cohort of individuals selected by a clear endophenotype. In this case, brain volume,” said senior author Alysson R. Muotri, PhD, associate professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “And early developmental brain enlargement can be explained by underlying molecular and cellular pathway dysregulation, leading to altered neuronal cortical networks.” (1)

The characteristics and causes of ASD are diverse and not entirely known — facts that have made it difficult to fully uncover relevant genetic, pathologic and cellular factors that might be broadly shared. One distinct pathophysiology or disordered process is the occurrence of macrencephaly in some children with ASD, which is characterized by early neuronal overgrowth and abnormally enlarged brains. Macrencephaly occurs in the first three years of life and precedes the first clinical signs of ASD. Approximately 20 percent of ASD individuals have macrencephaly.

The researchers reasoned that ASD individuals with macrencephaly likely shared an underlying molecular and cellular pathology. They created neural progenitor cells programmed from induced pluripotent stem cells derived from children with ASD. “By genome sequencing, we realized that some, but not all, carried clear mutations in the Wnt pathway, which is a molecular pathway previously implicated in cancer,” said Muotri. “Defects on cell cycle control were also obvious from gene expression on these cells. As a consequence, neural progenitor cells derived from these kids proliferate faster than controls, explaining the big brain phenotype.” (1)

Next, the researchers differentiated the progenitor cells into networks of cortical neurons, the primary functional cell type of the brain’s cortex (gray matter). “We showed that ASD networks fail to produce inhibitory neurons and found that several receptors and neurotransmitters related to GABA (an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter) are misregulated on these neurons. We also showed that the number of excitatory synapses is reduced, leading to functional defects when we analyzed the maturation of neuronal networks over time. Basically, we detected a lack of burst synchronization (when multiple neurons fire simultaneously). (1)

The atypical trajectory of cortical/brain development in autism spectrum disorder extends well beyond young childhood and into late adolescence and young adulthood, a new study demonstrates. A considerable amount of work has focused on early structural brain development in ASD utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This body of work has revealed evidence for brain overgrowth during the early postnatal years that appears largely absent later in development in ASD. Although several studies of cortical brain structure in adolescence and young adulthood in ASD have been completed, the vast majority has utilized cross-sectional (i.e., one point in time) designs. In one of the first studies to examine longitudinal (i.e., following the same subjects over time) cortical development in ASD during late adolescence and early adulthood, researchers found an exaggeration of the normal thinning of the cortex that occurs during this age range. Moreover, this increased cortical thinning was associated with greater executive function problems (based on behavioral ratings) and ASD social symptoms. This study suggests that the atypical trajectory of cortical/brain development in ASD extends well beyond young childhood and into late adolescence and young adulthood. More work is needed to understand brain development during the transition from adolescence into adulthood and beyond. (2)

Brain Gut Connection and Autism

An Arizona State University research team has found an association between the development of autism and the diversity of bacteria in our guts. The new finding could pave the way for specific supplements that will reinforce the gut’s microflora (bacterial population). Over half of the children living with autism exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms, maldigestion (contributing to malnutrition) and food allergies. The right dietary patterns can affect the gut’s microbiome and have a positive impact on a child’s nutrition. (4) The indigenous gastrointestinal (Gl) tract microflora has profound effects on the anatomical, physiological and immunological development of the host. The indigenous microflora stimulates the host immune system to respond more quickly to pathogen challenge and, through bacterial antagonism, inhibits colonization of the Gl tract by overt exogenous pathogens. Indigenous Gl bacteria are also opportunistic pathogens and can translocate across the mucosal barrier to cause systemic infection in debilitated hosts. (5) Cultured a strains of Lactobacillus (L.) reuteri originally isolated from human breast milk and introduced it into the water of the high-fat-diet offspring. We found that treatment with this single bacterial strain was able to rescue their social behavior,” Buffington says. Other ASD-related behaviors, such as anxiety, were not restored by the reconstitution of the bacteria. Interestingly, the authors found that L. reuteri also promoted the production of the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, which is known to play a crucial role in social behavior and has been associated with autism in humans. When we put the bacteria back in the maternal-high-fat-diet offspring, we could also restore the changes in synaptic function in the reward circuitry. (7)

Across the board, more research is being done on limiting the use of antibiotics to prevent a disruption of health gut bacteria. Antibiotics have been used effectively as a means to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals for over half a century. However, through their use, lasting alterations are being made to a mutualistic relationship that has taken millennia to evolve: the relationship between the host and its microbiota. Host-microbiota interactions are dynamic; therefore, changes in the microbiota as a consequence of antibiotic treatment can result in the dysregulation of host immune homeostasis and an increased susceptibility to disease. A better understanding of both the changes in the microbiota as a result of antibiotic treatment and the consequential changes in host immune homeostasis is imperative, so that these effects can be mitigated. (6)

Until now, a majority of studies of gut microbiome in autistic individuals have mainly focused on pathogenic bacteria, some of which have been associated with alterations in brain function. In one case, for instance, it was seen that gram-negative bacteria containing lipopolysaccharides can induce brain inflammation and cause high levels of mercury to accumulation in the cerebrum. (4)

This nutrition plan will help reduce inflammation while nourishing the brain with optimal nutrients.

It is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Low in processed sugar.

Optimal high quality proteins.

Dye free and chemical pure whole foods are recommended as much as possible.

This plan incorporates:

Healthy fats

Antioxidants

Fiber and optimal macro nutrient breakdowns

This plan will help optimize gut flora balance, and brain function.

Specific foods that can help fight inflammation include:

Hydroxide rich alkaline water

Heart healthy nuts

Nut butters and seeds like walnuts, pumpkins seeds

Heart healthy oils like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil

Antioxidant rich produce, including berries and dark leafy greens.

Consider gastrointestinal health.

Working with your doctor, you may want to add probiotics (4) to your supplement regimen, along with the supplement tricycline (which contains berberine, artemisinin, citrus extract, and walnut hulls). This treatment is designed to improve problems related to leaky gut, a condition in which damaged intestinal walls release undigested food particles into the bloodstream. Leaky gut is associated with a range of inflammatory and immune problems including Autism. This nutrition plan will work best in additional to a support team; it is ideal for those who are under supervised clinical treatment and therapies of qualified health professionals.

Lifestyle/Environmental Impact

Certain lifestyle trends and habits may contribute to the increase or decline of Autism symptoms. Poor nutrition, infections, and substance abuse (including cigarette and alcohol use) during pregnancy may be contributing factors. Substance abuse during pregnancy is believed to affect the development of the fetus’s brain as well. While you can’t do much to change genetics, you can alter your exposure to certain environmental factors that have shown a link to Autism.

However, none of these lifestyle changes are absolutes—experts can’t tell you that lowering your exposure to one particular factor will lower your child’s risk. “Evidence about environmental risk during pregnancy is really at its infancy, so any data-supported hypotheses must be investigated further as nothing is yet considered a certain cause,” says M. Daniele Fallín, Ph.D., director of the Wendy Kfag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The key is for pregnant women to take some safe, proactive steps like these that can potentially protect their babies. We all know that diet and nutrition play an integral part in our health. A major study conducted by researchers affiliated with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found strong links between maternal diabetes and obesity and the likelihood of having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or another developmental disorder. (12)

The authors note that obesity is a significant risk factor for diabetes and hypertension, and is characterized by increased insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, as are diabetes and hypertension. In diabetic, and possibility pre-diabetic pregnancies, poorly regulated maternal glucose can result in prolonged fetal exposure to elevated maternal glucose levels, which raises fetal insulin production, resulting in chronic fetal exposure to high levels of insulin.

Because elevated insulin production requires greater oxygen use this may result in depleted oxygen supply for the fetus. Diabetes also may result in fetal iron deficiency. Both conditions can adversely affect fetal brain development, the authors said. “The sequence of events related to poorly regulated maternal glucose levels is one potential biological mechanism that may play a role in adverse fetal development in the presence of maternal metabolic conditions,” Krakowiak said. (12) Maternal inflammation, which accompanies metabolic conditions, may also adversely affect fetal development. Certain proteins involved in cell signaling that are produced by cells of the immune system can cross the placenta from the mother to the fetus and disturb brain development.

Nutrition Plan for Autism

  • Increase the consumption of brain foods including heart healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and avocado.
  • Avoid Gluten and dairy containing foods. Gluten (found in wheat, breads, pasta, pasties, crackers) (8) and casein (found in dairy) (9) are two proteins that are common food allergies and cause gastrointestinal stress.

Experts believe these two proteins can cause problems for those with autism by triggering an immune response that has an impact neurologically or by causing Gl inflammation and irritation that leads to an increase of Autism symptoms and behavioral problems.

Pennsylvania State University conducted research to see if children who followed a gluten free and dairy free diet would see a reduction in their symptoms of autism. They gave a 90-item survey to 387 families who had a child with autism.

The research from the survey results showed that the children who completely eliminated both gluten and casein from their diets for greater than 6 months found the greatest benefit. “They saw an improvement in ASD symptoms such as greater eye contact, engagement, attention span, social responsiveness and decreased requesting behaviors. These are very promising results and show the value in giving this diet a try.”

NAMED Program (www.namedprogram.com) has implemented these concepts in addition to the anti-inflammation nutrition plans that NAMED offers.

Food chemicals are not new, but years ago people were only exposed to them sporadically. Unfortunately, today’s population is exposed to harmful food chemicals every day resulting in inflammation and metabolism disruption.

In order to minimize the amount of chemicals you consume, be sure to purchase quality, all-natural, additive-free beef, poultry, seafood and produce.

As mentioned before consuming foods that will reduce inflammation including an Hydroxide rich Alkaline water* (more info below) raw fatty nuts, nut butters and seeds, avocados, dark berries, leafy greens and fatty fish like wild caught salmon.

The goal of a sound nutrition program working to reduce inflammation and symptoms of Autism is to eliminate these additives:

  • Artificial (synthetic) coloring and dyes
  • Artificial (synthetic) flavoring
  • Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, saccharin, sucralose)
  • All natural Stevia leaf extract is fine to use as a safe sweetener
  • Artificial (synthetic) preservatives BHA, BHT, TBHQ, MSG (also hidden as Yeast Extract)

In further research, some doctors have concluded that while not everyone with ADHD is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to the diet may be important. For those who wish to utilize omega-3 fatty acids as a method of modifying behavior, should use both flax and seafood sources of these omega-3 fatty acids. DHA — a vital omega-3 fatty acid — is found in abundance in seafood and fish oil supplementation.

It’s now well accepted that modifying the diet of those afflicted with Autism can greatly help control the symptoms while improving quality of life.

 

Foods to include in daily nutrition:

  • Probiotic rich foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut coconut kefir, miso, tempeh.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids from walnuts, wild caught salmon, avocados.
  • Foods to Avoid: coffee, sport drinks/juice, candy, dairy and gluten.

 

Proper Hydration through Hydroxide Rich Water for Treating Autism and Inflammation

Acidity and inflammation go hand in hand. By chemical definition, acidity is a problem of too much hydrogen (H+). Too much acidity in the body can stem from diet, disease, exercise, and other life style factors. It is generally recognized that excess acidity in the body creates inflammation which leads to other disease conditions. Acidity causes a lack of oxygen and a lower pH condition in which pathogens flourish.

Hydroxide (OH) is a natural hydrogen hunter that does not merely buffer the body against excess hydrogen but eliminates by combining with it to form harmless water. That water can then be used for hydration or eliminated through urination. Here is the formula of the elimination reaction: OH + H+ = H2O.

Most alkaline waters attempt to help the body buffer acidity by providing alkaline minerals. But this does not address the underlying problem of excess hydrogen and instead only helps the body maintain pH balance. Potential hydrogen (pH) balance helps the body but it does not fix the issue. The main goal of most alkaline waters is pH balance but this misses the point.

A water rich in hydroxide seeks to eliminate acidity by eliminating the excess hydrogen. Most alkaline waters contain some hydroxide if they claim either to contain negative ions or have gone through ionization. The problem is most alkaline waters rely more on alkaline minerals to buffer the excess hydrogen than they use the hydroxide to eliminate hydrogen. This is why it is imperative to find a hydroxide rich water because elimination is far more effective in restoring balance to the body than mere buffering.

Benefits of a hydroxide rich water:

  • Hydroxide eliminates acidity rather than just buffering the acidity.
  • Hydroxide produces no toxic by-products. It produces only water which can be used for hydration or eliminated through urination.
  • By eliminating excess acidity (hydrogen), it frees up the body’s own oxygen to use for other biological processes.
  • Hydroxide restores completely the acid-alkaline balance beyond just pH balance.
  • Hydroxide helps reduce inflammation by eliminating acidity and not just buffering it.

 

AUTISM NUTRITION PLAN
MEAL MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
BREAKFAST 1-2 c stable hydroxide rich water Pumpkin Muffins* & egg Egg Casserole* Berry Pomegranate Smoothie* Gluten Free Breakfast bars Chai Protein Shake Banana chocolate muffins* & egg Quinoa pumpkin porriage.*
SNACK 1-2 c stable hydroxide rich water ¼ c Almonds and walnuts Celery with almond or cashew butter Coconut yogurt (none dairy) 1 serving Low sugar fruit- berries, apple, plum, grapes Celery with almond or cashew butter 1 serving Low sugar fruit- berries, apple, plum, grapes ¼ c Almonds and walnuts
LUNCH 1-2 c stable hydroxide rich water Black Bean salad* with 3oz chicken breast Quinoa Berry Salad Gluten Free SW Shrimp and pasta salad* Cherry pecan chicken salad lettuce wraps or sandwich* Southwest salad with cilantro dressing Pecan, berry and arugula salad* Cranberry Coconut chicken tossed salad
SNACK 1-2 c stable hydroxide rich water plum Coconut dairy free yogurt Celery or apple with nut butter (no sunflower) 1 c berries 1 serving low sugar fruit ¼ c nuts (no pine or sunflower seeds) Celery or apple with nut butter (no sunflower)
DINNER 1-2 c stable hydroxide rich water Chicken, pepper and onion pasta – gluten free* Asian Sesame Grilled Chicken* with quinoa or rice Strawberry pork chops* with side salad and sweet potato Grilled peanut chicken* with roasted Asian vegetable blend. Citrus Cod* Filet with roasted asparagus and brown rice. Zucchini noodle in fire roasted tomato meat sauce* Asian Meatballs* with rice noodles and broccoli

 

References

  1. M C Marchetto, H Belinson, Y Tian, B C Freitas, C Fu, K C Vadodaria, P C Beltrao-Braga CA, Trujillo, A P D Mendes, K Padmanabhan, Y Nunez, J Ou, H Ghosh, R Wright, KJ Brennand, K Pierce, L Eichenfield, T Pramparo, L T Eyler, C C Barnes, E Courchesne, D H Geschwind, F H Gage, A Wynshaw-Boris, A R Muotri. Altered proliferation and networks in neural cells derived from idiopathic autistic individuals. Molecular Psychiatry, 2016. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2016.95.
  2. Gregory L. Wallace, Ian W. Eisenberg, Briana Robustelli, Nathan Dankner, Lauren Kenworthy, Jay N. Giedd, Alex Martin. Longitudinal Cortical Development During Adolescence and Young Adulthood in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Increased Cortical Thinning but Comparable Surface Area Changes. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 2015; 54.
  3. Gael l. Orsmond, Paul T. Shattuck, Benjamin P. Cooper, Paul R. Sterzing, Kristy A. Anderson. Social Participation Among Young Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-0131833-8.
  4. Kang D-W, Park JG, Ithan ZE, Wallstrom G, LaBaer J, et al. (2013) Reduced Incidence of Prevotella and Other Fermenters in Intestinal Microflora of Autistic Children. PLoS ONE 8(7): e68322. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068322.
  5. Rodney D. Berg. The indigenous gastrointestinal microflora. Trends in Microbiology 4(11):430-5 December 1996 DOI: 10.1016/0966-842X(96)10057-3 Source: PubMed
  6. Willing BP, Russell SL, Finlay BB. Shifting the balance: antibiotic effects on host-microbiota mutualism. Nature Reviews Microbiology 9 233-243. April 2011. DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro2536
  7. Buffington et al. Microbial reconstitution reverses maternal diet-induced social and synaptic deficits in offspring. Cell, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.06.001 “A single species of gut bacteria can reverse autism-related social behavior in mice.”
  8. Nga M. Lau, Peter H. R. Green, Annette K. Taylor, Dan Hellberg, Mary Ajamian, Caroline Z. Tan, Barry E. Kosofsky, Joseph J. Higgins, Anjali M. Rajadhyaksha, Armin Alaedini. Markers of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity in Children with Autism. PLoS ONE 2013; 8 (6): e66155 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066155 Columbia University Medical Center.
  9. Pennesi Christine M.; Klein Laura Cousino. Effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Based on parental report. Nutritional Neuroscience, Mar. 15 2012 (2):85-91. DOI: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000003.
  10. Michael Stern. Insulin Signaling and Autism. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2011; 2 DOI:10.3389/fendo.2011.00054.
  11. Dan E. Arking, et al. Transcriptome analysis reveals dysregulation of innate immune response genes and neuronal activity-dependent genes in autism. Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms6748, published 10 December 2014.
  12. Paula Krakowiak, Cheryl K. Walker, Andrew A. Bremer, Alice S. Baker, Sally Ozonoff, Robin L. Hansen and Irva Hertz-Picciotto. Maternal Metabolic Conditions and Risk for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Pediatrics, 129(5):e1121-8. April 2012. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2583.

 

Resources:

http://www.neim.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1307491?query=featured home& https://www.autismspeaks.org http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1408133/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25199954

http://iama.iamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2247143

http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research(Probiotic-supplement-may-offer-autism-benefitsStudy

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229105128.htm



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