Before writing this post, I sat down and went through our 26 page NutrEval report that we received in August of 2012. I hadn’t looked at it since that first week when we received the news that Jake had a long list of nutritional deficiencies. Even though most of the results were bad, I remember feeling victorious that 4 out of the 5 omega-3 levels were within normal range. This is a biggie for us because Jake cannot take fish oil. I was also pleased that out of 40 line items on amino acid levels, only 10 were abnormal.
Before I talk about the supplements that Jake is currently taking, I wanted to explain the logic behind it. After all, it’s not just about being deficient in key vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. And it’s not as simple as taking a few supplements to get a worn-out body back up to speed. The science behind the biomedical approach is fascinating to me and one that I think will end up being much more common and popular in the years to come.
Most people know what gluten and casein are … they are the proteins that are found in wheat and dairy. Jake tested positive to having an intolerance to both of these things, even though he had no GI problems. Fortunately, he tested negative for celiac disease.
While the cause and effect of celiac disease and gluten intolerance are essentially the same, if someone is only intolerant, there is a solution … remove gluten and the symptoms will be reduced or eliminated all together.
According to Celiac.com …
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine causing it to become inflamed when gluten is digested. The immune system then generates an abnormal response to gluten and attacks its own intestinal tissue. This leads to the wasting away of the villi that line the small intestine, malabsorption of nutrients and thus malnutrition.
What’s so important about having nutritional levels that are in sync with each other? According to the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” The body needs all nutrients in balance because they work in concert. If there is a deficiency in even a single nutrient, the body can no longer function as it should, and all kinds of things can go awry.”
How does the brain fit into all of this?
When the lining of the intestinal wall is weak, it cannot do it’s job properly and undigested food particles and toxins can pass directly into the bloodstream. In the book “Healing Our Autistic Children,” Dr. Julie A. Buckley states, “In turn, these newer, larger invaders once again trigger a now very alarmed immune system to release its heavy artillery. This escalating battle can irritate and inflame the entire body.”
When you factor in Jake’s regular food allergies and other food intolerances, you’ve got one four-year-old body that is working overtime behind the scenes … trying to fight things that are not really enemies.
Dr. Perlmutter, a neurologist, stated in the Huffington Post …
The link between gluten sensitivity and problems with brain function, including learning disabilities, difficulty staying on task and even memory dysfunction, is actually not that difficult to understand. Gluten sensitivity is caused by elevated levels of antibodies against a component of gluten, gliadin. This antibody (anti-gliadin antibody) combines with gliadin when a person is exposed to any gluten containing food. When the antibody combines with this protein, specific genes are turned on.
When these genes are turned on, inflammatory chemicals are created called cytokines, which are directly detrimental to brain function. Basically, the brain does not like inflammation and responds quite negatively to the presence of cytokines.
So, is there any truth to the gut-brain connection?
I believe so. In very basic terms, I’m a big believer in following my “gut instinct” and when I get scared or nervous, I get that terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Additionally, I liked this analogy that Dr. Buckley used in her book …
How is it possible that anyone who has ever walked into a bar could deny the intimate relationship between the gut and the brain? Depending on how much you have to drink, and on your body’s tolerance for alcohol, you might begin to talk more freely, slur your words, or dare we say, stumble when you attempt to walk.
But, isn’t biomedical treatment just for autism?
Absolutely not. In the 2009 Morris-Agin apraxia research study, only 10 of the 187 kids were tested for gluten sensitivity, but all 10 tested positive. Yes, the sample size is small, but the results are unanimous. And studies are popping up all over the place about diet and supplements changing the lives of children who not only have autism, but also apraxia, ADHD, dyslexia, and other disorders.
For these reasons, Jake’s healing and repair treatment is composed of three equally important parts. 1.) Eliminate the triggers that are causing the gut to become inflamed in the first place. 2.) Heal the gut lining with supplements so that it will function properly. 3.) Replenish the body with vitamins and minerals that it is lacking to escalate the healing process.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this approach. Have you had any testing done? Tried going gluten free? Added any supplements? Seen any changes?
- “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” – Fourth Edition, by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC.
- “Healing Our Autistic Children,” by Dr. Julie A. Buckley.
- “Gluten Sensitivity and the Impact on the Brain,” Huffington Post, by Dr. David Perlmutter, 11/21/10.
- “Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance,” by Celiac.com, 11/13/12.
- “Syndrome of Allergy, Apraxia, & Malabsorption,” by Dr. Claudia Morris & Dr. Marilyn Agin, Alternative Therapies, July/Aug. 2009, vol. 15, no.4.