Do You Know Nutrition: Good nutrition important for those with Autism

June 28, 2010 at 1:28 a.m.
Updated June 29, 2010 at 1:29 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

By Phylis B. Canion

Q: My son has been diagnosed with Autism, and I am struggling trying to find nutritional information. I was told that nutrition was important, but am getting stressed trying to find nutrition answers about what I can do to help him. Are there certain foods he should avoid that can help with his digestion? I understand nutrition cannot cure Autism, but any suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

A: Autism is a complex biological developmental disorder. No single cause has been determined at this time although genetic and environmental factors are implicated.

You are correct in that nutrition cannot cure Autism; however, there are several nutritional therapies that can benefit a child with Autism. Many parents of Autistic children, report that their children received repeated or prolonged treatment of antibiotics for respiratory infections - in their younger years - prior to the Autistic diagnosis by their physician.

Because broad-spectrum antibiotics kill good, as well as bad bacteria in the gut, restoring a healthy gut is very important. You can start by supplementing with digestive enzymes and giving probiotics to restore balance of gut bacteria.

Both of these measures may begin the healing process of the digestive track and promote normal absorption. The strongest link of problem foods to Autism is wheat and diary and the specific proteins they contain, namely gluten and casein, because they are difficult to digest.

Milk restriction or its near elimination is an absolute imperative to the treatment of Autism. Complete elimination of the following foods can also benefit the diet of an Autistic child, since quite often they suffer from allergies: sugar, juice, canned sodas, strawberries, french fries, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate.

Avoid anything made with lead or mercury and be diligent in reading food labels and eliminate foods with a laundry list of ingredients. If you read an ingredient that you cannot pronounce, place it back on the shelf.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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