And yet it’s a significant issue that I find myself coming back to time and again with clients from many different walks of life. In a way, it makes sense because our brain is behind absolutely everything we do and a strong player in optimal health. On top of that, we are dealing with a prominent rise in the diagnosis of things like ADHD, depression, autism, and other brain-related abnormalities.
Today I received an email from an individual who has had Asperger Syndrome for many years. For the most part he has simply learned to live with it, but has now begun to wonder about nutritional support for his daily challenges.
Asperger Syndrome is “an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.” (Wikipedia)
Some symptoms include:
- difficulties in basic elements of social interaction
- a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others
- a lack of social or emotional reciprocity
- impaired nonverbal behaviors in areas such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, and gesture.
one-sided, long-winded speech about a favorite topic
- misunderstanding or not recognizing a listener’s feelings or reactions, such as a need for privacy or haste to leave
- may follow rigid behavioral guidelines, and apply these rules in awkward ways, such as forced eye contact
- pursuit of specific and narrow areas of interest
- may collect volumes of detailed information on a relatively narrow topic such as weather data or star names, without necessarily having genuine understanding of the broader topic
unusually sensitive or insensitive to sound, light, and other stimuli
Here is my reply to this individual:
I think the brain-nutrition link is probably the most fascinating thing that I get to work with and learn about. It’s mind blowing to me how after all this time and so many medical advancements, there is still so little that we actually know about the brain and how it works.
Everyone is different and responds to different treatments, but there’s no doubt that nutrition does play a key role (and is often ignored in mainstream treatments). I can give you some solid general information, but in order to give you any specific nutritional recommendations, I would really need to assess you thoroughly.
Here is a general list of the most common things that have been known to help:
1. A gluten-free diet – usually linked to some sort of gluten allergy in the individual.
2. A dairy-free diet – also linked to a dairy allergy in some individuals.
3. A sugar-free diet – most added sugar can function as a neurotoxin.
4. Supplementation – particularly B vitamins and folic acid are commonly linked to a deficiency in the individual that makes it almost impossible for them to eat the high amounts of nutrients their brains require.
5. Nutritionally healing yeast overgrowth – overgrowth can occur in the gut and, when systemic, affects the brain. This is something that I would determine and address through a nutritional assessment.
6. EFA supplementation – Essential Fatty Acids are basically brain food. Very frequently clients directly benefit from boosting their intake.
7. Other allergies – sometimes symptoms are related to an unknown allergy. This is also something I could determine and address through nutritional consultation.
8. Reducing or eliminating the additives, preservatives, and colourings commonly found in foods, even “healthy” food – many of these additives are neurotoxins, meaning that they cross the blood brain barrier and interfere with proper brain function.
As you can see, this works far more like puzzle than anything else, which is why individualized time and attention are crucial. But I hope this helps at least in a general sense, and as always I’m here if you have any questions.
Brain health is something that interests me deeply. And one of the things that I love about the brain is that it’s quick to respond, change, adapt and improve as soon as we start making the smallest nutritional improvements. It’s malleable and wants to be well. And the fact that I might play a role in helping someone improve brain function is something that both excites and intrigues me about nutrition.