Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Toxic phthalates linked with ADHD symptoms

Many families of children on the Spectrum are so focused on dietary changes and supplements that the consideration of household toxins is usually the last thing on their minds. However, when dealing with a child with a weakened ability to detoxify chemicals from his or her body, considering environmental toxins is actually too important to ignore. Now here’s another reason why: a new report out of Korea has found a significant, positive association between phthalate exposure (an important component of toys, cleaning materials and plastics, to name a few) and symptoms of ADHD. Though the study calls for further research, why not start making changes today? If your child takes a plastic water bottle to school, switch to stainless steel. Get rid of sippy cups and consider changing cleaning supplies at home to green products—there are so many affordable products out available today, so have a look at what your local natural market has to offer. You’ll be doing your entire family a great healthy service!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Amazing Teff - Nutritious grain for special diets

For those of you who have not yet discovered teff, the gluten free grain from Ethiopia, now is definitely the time. Though many GFCFSF (gluten, casein and soy free) families of autistic spectrum children are frequently baking with rice and potato flours, teff is often forgotten, though it may well be the most nutritious GF grain you can ask for. It boasts higher protein than wheat and has double the iron that wheat and barley have. A cup of teff gives you 40% of the RDA for calcium and is high in zinc and fiber too. Best of all, it goes so well in muffins and pancakes, which most kids are more than happy to eat. Just be sure that when you buy your teff flour, that it is certified gluten free (i.e. hasnt been processed in a plant which processes gluten grains).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maintaining antioxidant levels in cooking

Antioxidants are now widely acknowledged as essential for protecting our bodies from oxidatve damage caused by toxins, which we are constantly exposed to from our inner and outer environments. In general, antioxidants play a role in prevention and holistic treatment in a wide variety of illnesses, from autistic spectrum disorders to arthritis to cancer. Fruits and vegetables are the major contributors of nutritional antioxidants in our diets, and we all know we’re supposed to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Here’s some new information that is quite relevant for those looking to maximize the antioxidant content in their diets:Researchers at the University of Murcia and the University of Complutense in Spain examined how various cooking methods affected antioxidant activity by analyzing six cooking methods with 20 vegetables. These included boiling, pressure-cooking, baking, microwaving, griddling and frying. Here’s what they found:

• The highest antioxidant loss was observed in cauliflower after boiling and microwaving, peas after boiling, and zucchini after boiling and frying. • Green beans, beets, and garlic were found to keep their antioxidant levels after most cooking treatments. • The vegetables that increased their antioxidant levels after all cooking methods were green beans (except after boiling), celery and carrots. • Artichoke was the only vegetable that kept its high antioxidant level during all the cooking methods. • Griddle- and microwave-cooking helped maintain the highest levels of antioxidants, produced the lowest losses while pressure-cooking and boiling led to the greatest losses.

The above are tips you should keep in mind when preparing healthy family meals at home…

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More on Vitamin D insufficiency

Yet another report on Vitamin D has emerged and the news is similar to what we already know or have guessed: average blood levels of vitamin D appear to have decreased in the United States between 1994 and 2004.  While health practitioners previously believed the major health problems associated with vitamin D deficiency were rickets in children and reduced bone mineral content in adults, recently, insufficient vitamin D levels have been associated with diseases such as cancer, heart disease, infection and even ASD.  Studies have suggested that levels of 30 nanograms per milliliter to 40 nanograms per milliliter (I suspect even higher levels may be needed) for optimum health.  As a result, the current recommendations for vitamin D dosing are inadequate to address the growing epidemic of D insufficiency.  The recent report recommends that an increased intake of vitamin D, such as 1,000 international units per day or more plus and judicious sun exposure would improve vitamin D status and likely improve the overall health of the population... 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hyperbaric oxygen treatments help autism

Rossignol and his colleagues have just reported the results of their study on hyperbaric oxygen treatments or "dives," on 62 autistic children aged 2-7, in a peer-reviewed, pediatric journal. The study found that children with autism receiving the hyperbaric treatment had significant improvements in overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction, eye contact, and sensory and cognitive awareness compared to children in the non-treatment group. This is the first randomized, controlled, double-blind multicenter trial on the subject. Although the exact mechanism is still unclear, Dr. Rossignol believes the pressure in the chamber may reduce inflammation believed to restrict blood flow to the regions of autistic children's brains that control speech, or it may improve its ability to absorb oxygen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vitamin A and autoimmunity

An interesting study due out this month in "Nature Medicine" journal may have some relevance to the use of Vitamin A (either as high dose vitamin A taken on a monthly basis and for many, as a daily dose of Cod liver oil) in the biomedical approach to treating autism/Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) protocol which has a great focus on nutrition for autism. We know that our immune dendritic cells, which are the microbe-sensors of the immune system, can send out an alert to stimulate immunity, or a message to calm the immune response and tone down an excessive immune response. It seems that the message to calm excessive immune response uses vitamin A, which may explain the link between vitamin A deficiency and certain autoimmune and other diseases. It may be that infection with bacteria and viruses that cause chronic infections have evolved strategies that alter the signal balance to their advantage. A friendly reminder: those who take high doses of Vitamin A should always monitor blood levels!