Glyconutrition & Autism Diet
by Elizabeth Brown
Glyconutrition & Autism Diet
Parents seeking to ameliorate autistic behaviors such as inattention, repetitive behaviors and social issues have tried alternative diets like the gluten-free diet or the feingold diet. Another diet, the glyconutritional diet, consists of nutritional supplements derived from plants. For many parents, this diet has been helpful and is an alternative to pharmaceutical medication. The diet provides the body with eight essential saccharides (sugars) necessary for optimum health and, according to testimonies of parents and doctors, improves the behavior of children with autism.
The glyconutritional supplements target the immune system and improve the body's ability to work more efficiently. Autism has been linked to an autoimmune condition, and there is a suggestion that it is a lack of glyconutrition or saccharides that cause autism to develop. The supplements provide the necessary sugars and boost the immune system while increasing cell regeneration, promoting healing and improving the body's ability to flush out toxins. Kids with autism show a marked improvement in eye contact, attention and verbal communication.
Glyconutrition is a holistic approach to medicine, borrowing from an older time, before the days of pharmaceuticals, when natural derivatives were used for medicinal purposes. The supplements contain mushroom and fungi, which help detoxify the system. Saps and gums promote healing gastrointestinal problems and respiratory tract tissue. Seaweed is associated with brain development and cognition, and aloe vera has healing and anti-infection benefits.
After introducing glyconutritional supplements, kids with autism show improvements: One mother of a boy named Jonathan, a seven-year-old diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, was pleased to find significant improvements in eye contact and he was even able to tie his shoes. Dr. Jennifer Reid, a naturophathic physician who works with autistic children, tried the diet on her five more severely affected kids. She found dramatic recovery in verbal communication, especially in one nonverbal child. All the kids became more aware and social, and showed a decrease in repetitive behaviors such as flapping or stimming. Nutrition influences cognitive skills and behavior. Jianghong Liu, postdoctoral fellow of University of Southern California, refers to a study involving poor nutrition and conduct disorders. Conclusively, he says, poor nutrition "in the early postnatal years is associated with behavioral problems through age 17."
"We know enough to say that some sugars carry zip code-like addresses to help cells know where to go in the body, but what we know is just the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. James Paulson of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. "Until now, progress in elucidating the functions of carbohydrates has been extremely slow."
Continued research is under way with a $40.7 million "Glue Grant" awarded to the Scripps Research and 300 participating scientists to explore the complex protein-carbohydrate interaction. Despite positive reviews about a glyconutrition diet and autism recovery, it has not been scientifically validated.
Parents are able to purchase glyconutritional products at health food shops or distributors such as JHS Natural Products, FUNGI Perfecti , Larex and The Farm. One of the biggest distributors is Mannatech. A jar of 90 capsules ranges between $60 and $80. Glyconutrients are also available in powder form. Evenbetternow.com sells EBNGlyconutrients for kids. The capsules are plant based and free from soy, wheat, dairy, sweeteners, yeast and artificial colors or flavors.
A glyconutritional diet could have adverse side effects, including an allergy to the plants used. Other side effects include nausea, dizziness or an even more life-threatening health problem. No long-term studies have been done to determine the risks of a glyconutritional diet, so there is not sufficient evidence to guarantee the safety of the product. Therefore, it is best to consult with a pediatrician or family doctor familiar with the products before trying the diet.