03 October 2010

Dietary Interventions for Autism - Pt 2 of workshop

Now we're going into Part 2 of the Autism and Nutrition Workshop at University of Bridgeport, with Gerri Brewster opening up with a lecture on the Dietary Interventions for Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

She begins with a discussion of current diets, which she says are designed to "facilitate healing" the GI tract to improve autism-linked symptoms like cognitive performance.

The diets often selected are

-organic/clean diets
- gluten free/casein free
- SCD (Specific Carbohydrate)
- Body Ecology
- Weston A Price

"At the very least you want to clean things up," says Brewster.

Clean diets should be the goal for everyone since according to California Department of Public Health showed that a "High rate of autism [is] seen in children exposed prenatally to organochlorine pesticides."

You have six times more incidence of autism in children from women who lived within 500 meters of fields with organochlorines (reference: www.cdph.ca.gov/prgramservices/news/documents/PH07-13%20Autism%20Study.pdf).

She goes on to suggest buying organic foods, avoiding the EWG "dirty dozen" and "stopping the deluge" coming into the bodies of these little ones.

Wow, she also has a thing against GM foods citing American Academy of Environmental Medicine's call for an immediate moratorium against GMOs in food.

The AAEM concluded, "There is more than a causal association between GM foods and adverse health effects."

But from animal studies? Apparently, animal studies show GM foods cause immune system dysfunction and upregulate cytokines with asthma, allergy, inflammation.

So, Brewster is talking about different diets now.

Feingold diet is based on reducing phenols and salicylates in the diet. According to www.feingold.com, a little more than half of patients see improvement.

But the diet is pretty restrictive of many fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc.

The GFCF diet is based partially on the "Opioid Peptide Theory," which gathers that small proteins of 4-5 amino acids are identified as gluteomorohins and casomorphins, which are believed to get to the brain and cause an opioid effect.

But this theory was discredited since peptides resolved when the gut healed, so maybe only a marker of intestinal permeability?

Yet, surveys show that parents report that GF or CF causes improvement in almost half of patients. The parents reported that GFCF improves symptoms in 65 percent of patients.

Maybe eliminating GFCF (large proteins) reduces "total load on the gut" that allows for reduction of toxins getting into blood? This is the question Brewster has on her slide.

But GFCF has limitations, says Brewster. "You don't want to move into a lot of gluten-free junk food." Parents should focus on whole foods, limits on carb-laden foods.

It's also not usually enough to heal the gut, she says, so recovery is limited.

She says it's hard for parents to keep their kids on the GFCF diet. They say, "oh, it didn't work." But when Brewster asks them how long they stayed on it, they say, "two weeks."

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was developed by Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas, which is an almost sugar-free and grain-free diet to heal the gut for people with gut problems ranging from Celiac to Crohn's disease.

"Basically, you're starving out intestinal microbes causing malabsorption. It's a very strict diet. It's a tight diet."

First week involves extremely well-cooked veggies, broths, meat and bone broths. Second week you have ripe, peeled , cooked fruits, raw veggies, eggs.

The diet is followed "fanatically." Still, she shares, it may not be enough to eliminate excess mucous and inflammation.

The Body Ecology Diet is basically an anti-yeast, anti-dairy, food-combining diet.

And the three points for food combining!

- eat fruit alone [what? seriously?]
- eat proteins and nonstarchy veggies together
- eat grains and starchy veggies with nonstarchy veggies and ocean veggies

OK, Brewster says now Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride wrote a book that is supposed to appeal to those who practice more "conventional medicine." The book is called "Gut and Psychology Syndrome."

The book discusses gut and brain connection, reactions, treatments, etc.

The Weston A Price (WAP) diet is based on the book by Sally Fallon "Nourishing Traditions" (1999) and based on work by Price.

- body needs old-fashioned animal fats
- get away from "modern foods" that have been modernly processed
- use traditional sauces
- use traditional fermented and cultured foods like yogurts, kefir
- buy organic
- make your own
- homemade broths are rich in nutrients (chicken broth mitigates infections, gelatin aids digestion)
-soak grains, nuts, beans

"People used to eat all of the animal. But people don't eat like this anymore."

Low oxalate diet

This diet was developed by Susan Owens for autistic kids with GI issues. You avoid drinks and foods high in oxalates (over 10mg) like the following

- dark drinks
- beer
- chocolate
- coffee
- black tea
- juice of high ox fruits
- soy drinks
- nuts
- soy nuts
- especially wheat
- lots of different fruits like berries and even grapes!?
- lots of vegetables like kale, leeks, zucchini, potatoes!?

This is kind of a new diet based on idea that these children can't process oxalates.

[But doesn't food processing take out oxalates? So, do we like food processing or not?]

Brewster goes into low-histamine diets. "We produce histamine in response to our foods. Most of us do."

A low-histamine diet might mean avoiding

- tuna, fish sauces
- meats like sausages, preserved meats
- eggs
- cheeses

[Wow, these diets are all over the place. WAP is for eggs, but low-histamine is against. What works? anything?]

Are all of these diets restrictive? Brewster says that many of the kids come in are only eating like five foods anyway, so the diets are actually expansive.

After providing an overview for all of these diets, Brewster adds "There are no absolutes."

She shares some survey data and it looks like all of it ends up suggesting that a wheat-free, yeast-free, dairy-free diet is most helpful for autistic children.


Brewster shares some of her references at the end of her presentation. She leaves it to us to decide which of these are best to apply to patient situations.

Still, what's there to decide on? Many of the diets are way out there and have little evidence to back them up.

We have one more lecture that's supposed to tie all this together.

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