The Importance of Nutrition in Autism
April is Autism awareness month and so I will like to explain the relationship and importance of nutrition in autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)/ Autism impacts the nervous system leading to abnormal development and functioning of the brain. Some of these abnormalities are manifested by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviors. ASD can be also associated with intellectual disabilities, difficulties in motor coordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. For these reasons, having a balanced and healthy diet is very important to recover health and improve symptoms.
Many individuals with autism may have food intolerances and/or dislikes. Therefore, an food intolerance test is important to identify the meals that can have a negative impact on the body of such an individual. Keeping a food diary is important to track the different reactions the body may have towards different meals. As mentioned before, gastrointestinal disruption is very common in persons with Autism Disorder; this can also be a side effect of medications like antibiotics or caused by poor meal selections. Some of these disruptions generate gut inflammation, bowel irritation, constipation, and many other symptoms that will also have an impact on behavioral issues. To prevent gastrointestinal discomfort it is important to restore a healthy digestive system by consuming live bacteria such as probiotics, and consuming foods rich in Vitamin A such as sweet potatoes, leafy greens, lettuce, bell peppers, cod liver oil and fish which build healthy gut and brain cells. Aside from restoring the digestive system, it is important to have balanced meals with vegetables, fiber, sugar, protein, and essential fatty acids.
Changing the foods that autistic individuals eat, can be one of the best treatments for Autism. I highly recommend paying attention to how the body responds; the treatment that works for some may not work for others. This is why it is also important to keep a food journal in the path to improving Autism symptoms.