Focus on Gut Health for ASD Care For children with ASD, reinforcing the intestinal barrier and restoring balance to the microbiome can have profound health effects. “With dysbiosis and an overly permeable

gut, inflammatory molecules can leak into the circulatory system, travel up to the brain and cross the blood-brain barrier, causing inflammation. A lot of it originates in the gut, so when we treat the gut, we can restore microbial balance, diversity and resilience to the ecosystem—and in doing so, decrease inflammation, help restore the appropriate blood-brain barrier and bring the brain back into more of a balance,” advises Bock. Before embarking on a treatment plan,

Bock emphasizes the importance of work- ing with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine where a child fits in terms of subtypes of ASD, along with any other individual contributing factors. Although autism spectrum disorder

is complex, using holistic strategies that address the whole body can make all the difference. “I see thousands of kids on the spectrum, and the vast majority of them improve with an integrative approach to treatment, and more and more kids are actually recovering,” notes Bock. Emily Courtney is a freelance health

and wellness writer and editor living in northern Colorado. Connect at

To succeed in life,

you need three things: a wishbone,

a backbone and a funny bone.

—Reba McEntire


Gluten- and casein-free diet. A study published in Metabolic Brain Disease found that excluding gluten and casein led to significant improvements in ASD scores. “A gluten-free, casein-free diet is anti-inflammatory, and can help heal a leaky gut by restoring intestinal integrity and enabling the gut barrier to heal,” says Kenneth A. Bock, M.D.

Probiotics. Beneficial bacteria are integral to a balanced microbiome, but many ASD kids are lacking friendly flora. Research by Rutgers University shows that probiotics can improve GI dysfunction and reduce the severity of ASD symptoms.

Prebiotics. To thrive, beneficial bacteria need plenty of prebiotic fiber. In a study of 30 autistic children published in Microbiome, six weeks of prebiotic supplementa- tion led to reduced anti-social behavior.

Preconception care. Research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests that a mom’s microbiome may partially determine her child’s ASD risk. Because babies inherit their microbes from their mothers, it’s crucial that pregnant women have healthy gut flora to pass on. Bock recommends that expecting moms ensure adequate intake of probiotics, prebiotics, vitamin D and fish oil, both before and during preg- nancy, to help decrease inflammation and promote a healthy maternal microbiome.



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