Amazing new research is shedding light on what could be an effective treatment for the skyrocketing numbers of kids with autism in this country.
April is Autism Awareness Month and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 59 children in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder or ASD. Prevalence in American children has increased from 6-15 percent each year from 2002 to 2010 making it the fastest growing developmental disability.
According to experts, most of these children suffer from constipation and leaky gut because their gut bacteria is out of balance. This could cause increased irritability in an already tenuous emotional situation.
“What your gut tells your brain — and vice versa-is part of what scientists call the gut-brain axis,” Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist, tells Newsmax. “The good bacteria called probiotics in your gut create most of the serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters responsible for your mood.
“Autism is one of the classic brain-gut dysfunction diseases,” says Talbott, who has appeared on several segments of “The Dr. Oz Show” as well as educated elite-level athletes in a variety of sports at the United States Olympic Training Centers. “When the gut has an imbalance of the wrong kind of bacteria, it sends improper signals to the brain. That can show up as irritability. So, the question is, ‘How can we change the bacteria in the gut so that the child feels and behaves better?’”
Talbott says that the answer is soluble fiber, known as prebiotic fiber, which feeds the gut’s good bacteria and helps establish a healthier probiotic balance in the gut. Soluble fiber can also help manage occasional constipation.
“Ten years ago, if researchers had told universities they wanted to give fiber to address the symptoms of autism, they would have been laughed out of the room,” Talbott says. “Yet today, early studies have found a connection between soluble fiber intake and management of ASD symptoms.
Talbott cites one study conducted at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine which clearly showed that the addition of partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG), a soluble fiber available in the U.S. known as Sunfiber, not only reduced constipation in the group of children with ASD but their irritability “also improved significantly.”
Talbott tells Newsmax that there is a lot of ongoing research investigating the relationship between gut health and a wide range of neurological problems including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis (MS) and others.
“We already have very good scientific evidence that mental wellness problems such as depression, anxiety and ADHD are not just ‘brain’ problems but ‘gut-brain’ problems that can be significantly improved by interventions that improve microbiome balance.”
Besides a fiber-rich diet, Talbott recommends eating fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha and adding lots of phytonutrients found in colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet.
“Controlling stress, getting enough sleep and being physically active can all be amazingly beneficial to maintain gut function and improve brain performance.”
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