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Repair the Gut to Improve Behavior




Dietary changes and supplements may help symptoms related to autism. It would beneficial to place those with ASD on an elimination diet to determine if they are sensitive to gluten or dairy. Additionally, dysbiosis and leaky gut can be healed with proper diet and the elimination of additives and unprocessed foods.

 

It is important to strive for a diet that is comprised mostly of whole foods instead of processed foods.  A processed food has been purposely changed from its natural state through cooking, canning, freezing, packaging, fortifying, preserving, preparing, or adding ingredients. Whole foods are in their natural state with little or no processing or artificial ingredients, and they tend to be high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Processed food tends to come in packages and can be high in sugar, calories, unhealthy fats, preservatives, and sodium, and research shows these items are correlated with obesity and chronic disease. Processing can be minimal or extreme, so focus on purchasing foods that have been as minimally processed as possible – like prewashed lettuce or cut up vegetables.  A good rule of thumb is if the food label has a long list of ingredients, don’t buy it!

 

Whole foods are also devoid of food additives. Food additives are chemicals added to processed foods to maintain or improve freshness, improve nutritional value (fortifying), and to change taste, texture, and appearance.  Some food additives are food dyes and artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, artificial preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Many food dyes and colors have been associated with hyperactivity, GI symptoms and skin issues, while some preservatives are linked to headaches and behavioral or mood changes. Sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup also have side effects, such as mood changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and toxic exposure.

 

Studies show that repairing the gut can improve behaviors. To improve barrier function, supplements such as magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are recommended. Additionally, a multivitamin, phytonutrients, glutamine, amino acids can improve leaky gut and immune function. Digestive enzymes can help break down food and a probiotic can help restore the microbiome after dysbiosis.


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