How I Healed Autism With Food
How I Healed Autism With Food
I haven’t known exactly where to start to share this story, so I’ll just go back to the beginning a little bit and share how we arrived at the GAPS diet to begin with! My son had a pretty severe speech delay, he also suffered with sensory processing disorder and other behavioral issues and was just what we would call a “quirky kid”. We weren’t sure what to expect for his future because rather than growing out of some of these issues, they were just getting worse and worse. We would see some speech begin to unfold, only to have him regress and fall further behind than where he had been. The regressions were so frustrating for all of us, and at the time we simply had no idea what was going on with him. We didn’t know the truth about food, or about vaccines or about how toxins were getting into his body through lotions, soaps, toothpaste and just about everything else you can think of. We didn’t understand that his body just wasn’t able to eliminate all of these toxins. But it was the day we were told that we should have him screened for autism that everything changed. That day, we started reading and researching. We read everything we could find about autism, its causes and what treatments might be possible. I got a wonderful tip from my grandmother who had already read a very interesting book that proved to change our course forever. It was called Nutrient Power, by Dr. William Walsh. I thought at first that this book was going to teach me what supplements to give Emmett, and how his diet was lacking. Well, it did that, but what it actually taught me was that Emmett is a child with a DNA methylation problem and a child that suffered from malabsorption. I have learned way more than I ever thought I would about these subjects now! Turns out your methylation cycles determine a lot about your brain, speech and behavior and also effects your epigenetics as well.
Many mental disorders result from environmental factors that cause genes to behave (or express themselves) improperly. For example, nutrient imbalances or toxic exposures can alter gene expression rates and may be the root cause of numerous psychiatric disorders. It’s not a coincidence that methylation is a dominant factor in epigenetics, and methylation abnormalities are common in mental illness. ~Dr. Walsh, Nutrient Power
When an individual is undermethylated, which 85% of kids with autism are, then their DNA cycles are not regulated normally. Under or overmethylated individuals don’t produce the correct amount of nutrients the brain needs to function optimally. Amino acids such as GABA and Glutathione can be especially lacking, but there are many. They also don’t eliminate toxins from their body efficiently. They are reacting to the increased level of toxins in their bodies with lack of speech, sensory issues, anti-social behaviors and what stood out for Emmett especially was actually his constipation. His gut was also reacting to the increased toxin levels, in short, he had a leaky gut.
Now I have read a lot since I first got my hands on the first book, Nutrient Power, and now Emmett takes a lot of supplements because we have learned that the imbalances in his body were widespread. I will share in another post, exactly what supplements we use with him and why! But let me go on to the diet for now, because the diet is where all of the healing began and is without a doubt the most important element to any healing process. What we put into our mouths matters…and it matters a whole lot more than what we even realize. We have been led down a very dangerous path in the US with our food supply and we are fooled into thinking that if we eat unhealthy foods, the worst that will happen to us, is we will become overweight! But nothing could be further from the truth…what we really become is very sick. Sick with cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, MS, IBS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, ADHD…and the list goes on and on. Look at nearly any disease common among us today and I would be willing to bet that our food is the root cause, and it is also the first thing that will put you back on the road to health.
We actually found a doctor, an MD that is also a naturopath, and he helped guide us on this journey. He was recommended by the Walsh Institute and he understood exactly what we were dealing with. He put us on the GAPS diet and told me to read the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBride MD. This book is a tremendous resource for understanding gut health. She breaks down exactly what happens in the gut and why imbalances occur and exactly what we are doing to either cause or heal these problems, with our food choices. It was July 20th when we started Emmett on GAPS. Now that I am 5 months into this process I feel I can share what we have learned, our successes, setbacks and where we are hopefully headed!
When you begin the GAPS diet you are supposed to do the intro in stages. We did start with the intro diet, but after about a week I realized that with a picky eater such as Emmett, he wasn’t going to get enough nutrition without going on to the full GAPS diet. He is still a very picky eater, and we don’t always get him to drink the healing broth that is the hallmark of this diet. But I do stay strict to the diet no matter what. This means he eats no grain whatsoever, he eats no sugar except raw honey and pure grade B maple syrup, and his milk is raw cows milk. (Read about raw milk here.) Milk is something that really depends on the person. We tested it with Emmett and he seems to tolerate it well, and sometimes it ends up being the majority of his calories so he gets to drink it. It’s not easy to find good sources for raw milk so this isn’t even an option for many. I wish he ate more fruits and veggies, his diet is definitely not perfect, but much of the healing seems to come as much from what he’s NOT eating, as to what he is. We also make sure everything he eats is organic. I’m a huge stickler on that one. Now that I know about glyphosate and other toxins in our food supply, I refuse to eat anything conventionally grown. Our gut health is being destroyed by consuming glyphosate and I refuse to be a part of the human science experiment any longer! Here is a wonderfully informative talk on this subject if you want more details on this! Dr. Seneff on Glyphosate
I have so much to share about our GAPS journey, but I will close this first post with a list of some of the basic foods that my son eats regularly and links to recipes if I have them!
I’m very happy to share that 5 months into this diet and my son is not the same kid he was this summer. He speaks in full sentences now, we can actually have a conversation with our child and this was not possible 5 or 6 months ago. He didn’t understand very basic things like when it was his 3rd birthday this past May. But just a few months ago in October, he suddenly had a complete understanding of what a birthday was, and to my dismay even sang me the birthday song on my birthday! I was shocked…I didn’t realize he even knew the song. We have had so many moments with him that have shocked us, brought us to tears, and just given us so much hope. My son was actually diagnosed with autism in August, one month after we began his diet, and the diagnosis was quite bad. He was described as being at the far end of the spectrum, as bad as it gets. I knew that wasn’t my child. I knew he connected with us and friends and family that knew him, maybe he just didn’t really like the doctor that day! Either way, we are undeterred and we press on. We will stick with the diet and supplements. Read more about the supplements we use here. We have seen the emotional connections coming stronger every day. He tells us if he feels sad or happy. He notices when one of us feels sad and actually shows empathy. He understands things he just never did before. I believe he is healing. It will take a lot more time for the healing to be complete, but as we look forward to our first Christmas with him as a child that is really connected for the first time, I have so much joy in my soul. Watching his little sister talking and understanding things at 17 months that he is just slowly starting to grasp himself, it’s a little hard sometimes. We can see now just how different things were for him. We didn’t know what we didn’t know since he’s our first child. I’m very thankful for this journey and what we have learned because of it. Emmett was suffering, he couldn’t go to the bathroom normally, he was uncomfortable, he didn’t want to eat, he couldn’t communicate with us, he didn’t know how to deal with his feelings. Many people say that you shouldn’t try to “heal” kids with autism, and everyone is different so I am not trying to tell anyone else what to do. But I knew my child, I knew that he was suffering and as his mother, I was and am determined to help him. Only 10% of autism is genetic. The rest is all epigenetic, stemming from external causes. What the triggers are can be different for all kids, but I know what the triggers are for him and we will avoid those things from now on. And the changes in him over the past 5 months are evidence – that the food and other toxic factors were affecting him dramatically. The beauty of epigenetics is that just as they can be turned on…so can they be turned back off. It’s a whole lot harder in reverse I have learned…but it is possible. This is true for most other disease as well. So if you suffer from any disease…I would encourage you to seek out what is causing it. Is it your food, your sleep habits, it might even be your soul is needing something…or it might be your shampoo! Our bodies are taking in everything in our environment, literally. We are soaking it all in. It’s time we demand the best environment…and it’s time we get healthy again!
Here’s to your healthy life,