Getting kids to eat a healthy diet can be challenging in the best of times, and now that we’re facing the coronavirus pandemic, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is more important than ever. Our immune systems depend on micro- and macronutrients that we get from our diets to protect us from infection and to speed recovery from illness.
Both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been associated with dietary deficits that affect immunity, and correcting these deficits improves symptoms. Several of the deficient vitamins that are observed in both disorders are important for a strong immune system, including vitamin D, zinc, and selenium, among others.
Inflammation and immune dysregulation are known contributors to ASD, and more recent evidence links them to ADHD as well. Since diet affects immunity, making sure that kids with ASD and ADHD are getting all of the nutrients they need is critical to protecting them from illnesses,...
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are well known for their ability to support heart health, but clinical research also shows that omega-3s promote enhanced mental performance [1, 2]. For instance, omega-3 supplements boost the production of dopamine, which is an important chemical in the brain. Dopamine plays a role in memory, learning, attention, and emotions, and it also helps target hyperactivity . Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are even linked to an increased risk of developing various psychiatric disorders . This means that omega-3 supplements are a good alternative for improving mental health .
One study involved three months of omega-3 supplementation for a group of children with behavior, psychosocial, and learning difficulties. The children in the study demonstrated improvements in spelling, reading and behavior after consistently taking the supplements . Omega-3 fatty acids were subsequently described as beneficial nutrients that help address behavioral (e.g.,...
A recent clinical study showed that improving nutrient intake and the overall diet targets symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) such as anxiety, mood fluctuations, hyperactivity, aggression, and lack of focus, among others. The lead researcher, James Adams, PhD evaluated the effects of the following dietary intervention on ASD symptoms:
Day 0: Multivitamin/mineral supplementation
Day 30: Essential fatty acid (fish oil) supplementation
Day 60: Epsom salt baths
Day 90: Carnitine supplementation
Day 180: Digestive enzyme supplementation
Day 210: Healthy, gluten free, casein free, soy free diet
This particular type of intervention was chosen for several reasons. First, individuals with ASD tend to experience nutritional deficiencies that worsen ASD symptoms and overall health. Second, essential fatty acids (fish oil) support the health of cells throughout the body (e.g., brain, gastrointestinal tract), thereby targeting mental impairments and gastrointestinal problems that...
Nutrition Deficiencies and Autism
Children with autism are prone to having selective eating patterns, a limited food repertoire, sensory issues that are linked to restricted food intake, and neophobia, which refers to the fear of trying anything new including unknown or unfamiliar foods [1-3]. In some cases, dietary restrictions (e.g. casein- or gluten-free diets) that caretakers/parents use as a therapeutic approach to targeting behavioral and/or gastrointestinal issues may also contribute to the nutritional vulnerability of children with autism .
Accordingly, vitamin B-12, D, E, folate, biotin, and pantothenic acid deficiencies have been observed in individuals with autism as well as elevated vitamin B6 levels in some children with this condition . Children with autism also tend to have lower levels of calcium, magnesium, selenium, chromium, iodine, and lithium as well as amino acid and fatty acid imbalances . Over the years, research has demonstrated that these types of...
If your child only eats certain foods and often refuses to try new types of food, you may be wondering if your child is a picky eater or has a feeding problem. Here are a few ways to know the difference. Typically, the majority of children who are picky eaters and do not have a more serious feeding problem demonstrate a normal growth pattern . Normal growth and development as well as the absence of physical symptoms (e.g. trouble swallowing) are factors that healthcare professionals often look for when determining whether a child is a demonstrating picky eating or problem feeding .
Common signs of picky eating include [2-4]:
Feeding problems, on the other hand, may be due to...
One of the most frustrating things for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is the lack of knowledge we have about the causes of ASD.
Autism awareness organizations have done an exceptional job raising awareness in the general population about autism, including what it is, what is isn’t, and how it affects children differently. As a result, there has been a greater demand for scientists to carry out significantly more research related to the causes of ASD, and how it impacts children so that they can live their best lives – their strengths emphasized, and their less-strong points understood and supported.
Among the many topics of interest is how elements in our environment can increase the risk of autism or aggravate its symptoms. Over the past decade or so, researchers have found that one element that could potentially influence the risk of autism is prenatal exposure to mercury. How certain is this? Do all researchers agree?
In this article, I...
Don't you just LOVE super simple recipes, especially in the summer? The key to awesome chicken is the marinade. It is so easy to just put the oil and spices in a ziploc bag and place the chicken in it, then leave in the fridge while you're at work, running errands. or at home accomplishing a honey do list. Top that ease with using the grill, which leaves you with no pans to clean up. Can I get a "heck yah!"?