Autism and the Microbiome: Is There a Connection?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects the way a person relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people. In 2014, 1 out of 59 children were diagnosed with Autism. Fiver years later, the numbers are even higher. A 2019 study showed that 1 in every 40 children receive an ASD diagnosis. At this point, many consider Autism to be a health epidemic.
So, what is going on? Why are we seeing such a huge increase in the development of autism?
There is now evidence to support a shocking discovery: the gut microbiome plays a significant role in our overall health, including the brain. Despite common knowledge, this revelation supports the hypothesis that Autism may actually be a gut disorder, not simply a brain disorder. In addition to it’s effects on the brain, the gut affects every aspect of our health and influences the progression of many disorders and diseases. It also plays a large role in detoxification. There have been studies that link heavy metal exposure to autism and if our microbiome is compromised, our bodies can't remove heavy metals properly.
What exactly is the gut microbiome? The gut microbiome is all the bacteria and microorganisms living in our intestinal tract. These organisms, despite being so small, are mighty and powerful. They play an essential role in our bodies. Our gut microorganisms include good and bad guys- both of which greatly affect our health. Oddly, they are both necessary for optimal health (yes, even the bad bacteria). Unfortunately, trouble arises when the bad bacteria grow out-of-control. When an imbalance presents in the gut, we may experience an array of health issues.
What causes an imbalance in the gut microbiome?
An imbalanced gut can be caused by various factors, including:
A diet high in sugar and refined carbs (many autistic children consume these diets)
Frequent antibiotic use
Birth via C-section
These factors are frequent and prevalent in our world, today. However, they might just be the answer we’ve been searching for: the solution to halting ASD in it’s tracks.
The microbiome of those with Autism has been shown to be substantially different than those without the disorder. This may explain why chronic digestive issues are eight times as likely to occur in children with Autism than those without.
Studies show that Micro Transfer Therapy (MTT AKA stool transplants) to be effective in altering the microbiome of those with Autism. A study shared by Scientific Reports showed lasting behavioral and gastrointestinal improvements in 18 Autistic children who received MTT therapy. These results further support the connection between the gut and overall health.
Despite the increase in ASD today, there are changes we can make to heal our bodies and to help manage symptoms of ASD.
Here’s what you can do:
Take daily probiotics to help balance your digestive bacteria (to find out the best one for you, check my article)
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Drink at least 60% of your bodyweight (pounds) of water (ounces).
Eat a diet high in whole, raw, nutritious foods.
Include a higher amount of healthy fats in your diet.
Limit or avoid inflammatory foods, including: sugar, refined carbs, trans fats, alcohol, and caffeine.
Identify any food allergies or sensitivities.
Seek professional help from: your primary care doctor, registered dietitian, or holistic practitioner and ask them about stool transplants.