Nutrition patterns and concerns in person with autism spectrum disorder

By: Jyotsna Singh

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) also known as pervasive developmental disorder this group of disorder is characterized by three domains: impairment in social communication, restricted and repetitive behaviour and language impairment. According to international classification of diseases (ICD-10) autism spectrum disorder is the umbrella term and there are five discrete disorders, including: Childhood autism, atypical autism, Rett’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger’s syndrome. This is complex neurological disorder and early intervention playing essential role in the management of autism spectrum disorder.The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the new data of autism around 1 in 40 children are affected and this data are increased when compare to before data by CDC. Other findings of the CDC report are this disorder is 3.5 times more common in boys compare to girls. Children are highly affected with the single mother and with low family income. Children are diagnosed with ASD are associated with some medical condition such as asthma, seizures, tuberous sclerosis, gastrointestinal problems. Asperger’s syndrome is less comprehensive form of autism spectrum disorder in this disorder did not include impairment of language. Some study shows that essential diagnostic impairment of ASD is collapsed into two domains: impairment of social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviour. Aberrant language is not defining feature but sometime this is associated features of individual with autism spectrum disorder.

Presenting Featuresthis disorder was described for the first time by Leo Kanner in 1943. Autism spectrum disorder typically appears during the second year of the life and in some critical cases lack of social communication must be noted in first year of the life and this abnormal condition become observed clearly during the first five years of life. But also present some exceptions, in some milder cases with normal intellectual function essential diagnostic criteria not manifest in several years until when academic and social area activity increased. Individual with ASD have delays in social communication, language and repetitive behaviour. Marked impairment include lack of eye contact, attachment inanimate object, not respond with peers, stereotyped behaviour such as hand flapping, rocking, clapping etc.

GI Abnormalities in Autismindividual with ASD commonly found gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, excessive burping, difficulty in stool and these symptoms may cause pain and feel uncomfortable. Children with autism spectrum disorder have poor in communication and not able to express feeling properly so those not tell parents that they are in pain and this pain turn to irritability and aggression (head banging, unnecessary cry, self-harming) some literature found that there is highly correlated between GI symptoms and challenging behaviour (Arlene Mannion and Geraldine Leader, Gastrointestinal symptoms in autism spectrum disorder: Literature Review). GI symptoms are related to eating habits and food choices of the individual with ASD because they have restricted interests in food items. These habits can also lead to the following health concerns.

  • Limited interest area in food selection: Children with autism spectrum disorder either hypersensitive or hyposensitive to the sensory organ (taste, smell, visual, hearing and touch)so that they have also hypersensitive and hyposensitive to the foods items. They are totally avoided or limit some foods based on their textures. Because of this behaviour issues proper nutrition is not going in their body.
  • Constipation: This problem may be occur based on child food behaviour ASD child’s interest area is very limited so that they are not eating all nutrition.  Sometime constipation is effected by level of medication.Children with ASD suffer extremely pain because of constipation and this pain sometime turn to aggressive behaviour and other self-injuries behaviour. If need to stop these behaviours so we work with on proper nutrition.
  • Disturbed sleep: Many children with autism spectrum disorder are difficulty to falling asleep during night and this problem occurs related to abdominal pain, irritability, bowel inflammation etc.

Nutrition pattern on autismthe proper nutritional supplements are easily found in the food items. These supplements have without side effects in the body because they are found in naturally in items. If some nutrition is intake in high quantity so that the body washes out of extra nutrition or store for later use without any type of side effects in the body. If individual have some allergy of any food items or any food items are damaging immune system,in such cases our body give some signal us to stop taking such supplements by giving us vomiting, itching or diarrhea. Some study found that nutritional supplements are possibility to reduce the symptoms of mental illness but in some cases if clients takes some psychiatric drugs so we should not stopped these drugs even nutritional supplements should be “add on” with these drugs. If see the reaction of specific diet then 1 to 3 month is enough time to assess whether the diet improve the symptoms.

  • The Anti-candida Diet:there are many types of fungus in human body, candida is one of them. The candida yeast produced harmful effect on health and behavioural issues with ASD child. There is strong evidence to relationship between ASD and candida. (The Candida Yeast-Autism Connection:Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D. Center for the Study of Autism, Salem, Oregon)As we know autism disorder caused by some toxic substance and this is the high prevalence to overgrowth the candida yeast. Our body have a capability to fight these toxic substance and protect the body system but candida is reduced that capability and result the body cannot metabolize the toxic compound and lead to gut and gastrointestinal problem. Some researchers found that ASD child usually suffer “lucky gut syndrome” and this syndrome caused by candida. These all point to proof that candida is playing essential role in ASD child. Child with autism spectrum disorder, if the child under the anti-candida diet should be eliminating all the sweets including ice creams and all the sugary food items. This type of food items has nothing to feed on 10 to 14 days which lead to totally detoxification of the body. Primary priority is overgrowth the candida. Children are love to sweets and this is the challenge to eliminate these food items in meals of child. Garlic is anti-fungus and this ingredient also adds this diet chart. Some foods are avoided in this diet chart for instance bread and pasta, chocolates, honey, cake and all sweet items, high sugar contain fruits are avoided instead of lemon, blueberries. Starch rich vegetables should be avoided and intake high- fibre vegetables.
  • Probiotic and Prebiotic:probiotic is live fungus and this fungus is count as a good bacteria, their function is boosting immune system and protect the gut problem and also play essential role in gastrointestinal problem. As we above discussed that great connection between autism and GI problem so that probiotic heal the GI symptoms andcontrolling the autism spectrum disorder symptoms. Various study showed that ASD have low amount of good bacteria which is correlated problem in GI tract and digestive problem. Researchers found that probiotic is positively effect on gastrointestinal problem and improve immune system. Uses of probiotic foods increase the production of vitamin B12 in body result that increased energy. Children with ASD use prebiotic as a form of (galactooligosaccharide) help the GI symptoms and as well as improve social behaviour. One of the study to found that use GFCF diet and prebiotic is effective role on reduces stress and improves memory with ASD child (A prebiotic intervention study in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs): Roberta Grimaldi). Probiotic rich foods, yogurt, buttermilk, lassi made by yogurt and water, soybean. Prebiotic rich foods, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, onion, garlic.
  • GFCF Diet: there is number of researches to show that connection between GFCF diet also known as gluten free and casein free diet. (The Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet in Autism: An Overview with Clinical Implications Jennifer Harrison Elder, PhD, RN, FAAN).Conclusion of many study of GFCF diet is making differences the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and many parents have seen great improvement in ASD child with the under of GFCF diet. In GFCF diet exclude all the gluten (wheat, rye, barely) and casein (all the dairy products including cow’s milk, butter, yogurt etc.). The cause of eliminate the gluten and casein diet in ASD child is,produced opioid like chemical because of incomplete breakdown of gluten and casein foods and because of this chemical improve ASD symptoms like stereotyped behaviour, delay language, inappropriate laughing.The chemical enter in blood brain barrier and affecting the neurotransmitter in central nervous system and produced the symptoms of ASD. When buying packaged foods, make sure you check the ingredients carefully to ensure the food does not contain any gluten or casein.
  • Feingold Diet: the Feingold diet is type of eliminate all colouring and flavouring foods. According to this diet there are some researches to conclude that all artificial foods colour and flavour are harmful and produced the hyperactivity in the child. There are some autism child have the symptoms of hyperactivity Feingold diet help the reduced the hyperactivity, learning problem in the child.


There are many studies to found that all individual have been found toxin in human body and these toxinsobserved in muscle, bone, and all human organs and produced harmful effect. These toxins involve in brain activity also and play important role in psychological and physical illness. There are many methods to take out these toxins from human body and these methods are fasting and chelating. Well known about fasting and in chelating uses of some substance like vitamin-c, Zinc, Garlic, onion, calcium and use of theses substance, toxins come out of body in urine and sweat. For instance, use of vitamin-c, lead toxin come out of body, use of Garlic and onion  Mercury toxin which is play the important role in mental retardation come out of the body.

Checklist of what foods to avoid and what foods you can eat:

Anti-candida Diet (foods to avoid)Anti-candida Diet (foods you can eat)
Avoid all type of sugar, do not include honey, bread and pasta, chocolates, cake and all sweet items, high sugar contain fruits are avoided, Mango, Banana, Watermelon, Grapes, Starch rich vegetables should be avoided. Eliminate wheat, corn wheat flour, potatoes, or white flour in the diet; Do not drink milk at all but you may drink rice or almonds milk.Broccoli, Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Eggplant, Garlic, Onions, Spinach, Tomatoes, Brussels, Avocado, Lemon, Lime, Blueberries (in small amounts),  Olives, Oat bran, Eggs, Chicken, Turkey, Ghee, Yogurt, Almonds, Sunflower-seeds, Coconut, Turmeric, Black pepper, Ginger, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Herbal teas. You may consume in breakfast hot cereals which is not include any wheat or corn.  
Prebiotic(foods to avoid)Prebiotic(foods you can eat)
Artificial sweeteners, Alcohol, coffee, Flaxseed(tisi), lady finger, Broccoli, Artichokes, Garlic, Onions, Avocados, Coca powder, Green bananas, Blueberries, Yogurt, lassi( made by yogurt and water)
GFCF Diet (foods to avoid)GFCF Diet (foods you can eat)
Buttermilk, cheese, cream, ice-cream, Milk of all types, Barely, Wheat (all types), Rye, chocolate, egg dishes, meatsBuckwheat, Corn, Oats, Rice (all types), Milk free substitutes, Quinoa, Tapioca, Soybean pasta, Soy flour, popcorn without artificial colour and flavour, cornflakes,  lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, peanuts, plain fresh and dried fruits, plain peanut butter without sweaters, coconut milk, nut milks,  Flaxseed , sunflower or olive oil,
Feingold Diet(foods to avoid)Feingold Diet (foods you can eat)
All colouring and flavouring foods,  almonds, apples, apricots, berries, cherries, cloves, coffee, cucumbers and pickles, currants, grapes, mint flavouring, oranges, plums, tea, tomatoes.Beans, bean sprouts, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, dates, kiwi, lemons, lentils, mushrooms, onion, peas, spinach, sweet corn, sweet potato.  
Jyotsna Singh
Clinical Psychologist Currently Posted as a Counsellor in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya
(Govt. of India),Sant Kabir Nagar (Gorakhpur)

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