No one is free of toxins, and most medical approaches do not take into account the accumulation and burden of toxins. This makes the body vulnerable to toxic overload. What do you think happens to a developing fetus when the mother has a large burden of toxic exposures?
I just listened to a fascinating interview with Dr. Martha Herbert MD PhD, a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. This Detox Summit is amazing because there are so many NEW highly qualified speakers that have so much to tell us!
Healing is a Process
The brain is not a static organ –nothing is hard wired. There are subtle rhythms in the brain and skull that can be accessed through alternative procedures such as chiropractic and osteopathic cranial techniques.
Glial cells (cells in the brain) outnumber neurons four to one to as much as ten to one. New studies show that they are more than simply the glue of the brain – studies show that the glial cells actually nourish the neurons.
Toxins and infections activate the glial cells to be on high alert to protect the brain. Astrocytes (more brain cells) are thought to be the trash collectors of the brain. The astrocytes try to sequester heavy metals and other toxins.
But astrocytes are small and can break down when the toxic load is too high. Additionally, if the person is nutritionally depleted, premature aging of the brain may occur because all of the reparative properties of the brain are over-taxed.
Sadly, at this point in time, women of child bearing age are the third and fourth generations that have been exposed to greater and more insidious toxins from the food supply and environment. We know that toxins such as BPA have been found in the blood of neonates. Many other toxins get passed on to the infant as well.
All of these chemicals that bath the baby in the womb and pass through after birth can affect the developing brain. Add in the toxic exposures like those from vaccines, low quality baby formula and some even passed through breast milk and you get the sky rocketing rates of autism we have today.
What is the Tipping Point?
Some people are much closer to the tipping point than others due to exposure to stressors. There is also the question of whether or not autism is an autoimmune disorder. Autistic children have low creatine, SAMe and methylation defects. Many people with autoimmunity have problems with methylation.
You must evaluate all the stressors, such as emotional stress, physical and physiological stress, electromagnetic, alcohol, pesticides, heavy metals, toxic household products, lack of sleep (during sleep the glial cells keep house and sleep is now considered an active, important detox), etc.
The issue is whether or not you are maintaining the ability to carry out repair processes. Your body’s ability to repair efficiently can make all the difference between health and disease.
How To Support Repair
The way to support repair is to eat high nutrient dense food, avoid environmental toxic exposures, protect the gut microbiome, avoid infections and keep stress down by getting good sleep and exercise. Avoid being over-whelmed by practicing good time management.
- Eat healthy fats – no trans fats or vegetable oils except organic extra virgin olive oil
- Eat plenty of coconut oil and coconut products for the healthy medium chain fats that feed the brain
- Eat meat and organs from pastured raised animals for good fats
- Incorporate bone broths into your diet
- Avoid sugars
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
- Avoid genetically modified foods
- Eat organic
- Eat cruciform vegetables
- Go grain free or at least gluten free
- Don’t eat burnt portions of meat or any food due to heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are carcinogenic
- Eat low glycemic to avoid an insulin spike
- Eat wild fish – small fish have less mercury
- Avoid soy unless it is fermented and eat only a small portion — like a condiment
- Take fermented cod liver oil for vitamins A & D
Autism and Toxicity
Autism is a process – it is the way the brain creates behaviors when it has a very high total load and not enough resources. The way the brain generates brain waves gets altered by the toxicity and by the person’s core physiology.
Autism may be an extreme case of poor stress management.
I really like the way Dr. Herbert explains this.
When the cells in the brain don’t have enough nutrients (blood supply) and energy supply (mitochondria) – when that system gets inefficient, there is not enough energy for the brain to produce wide spread coordination across its networks.
In autism, the brain is not as well regulated because the physiology is worn down due to toxins.
You need to build up the resources again so the brain’s ability to eliminate some of the total toxic load can increase and this brings more flexibility to the system which will give the brain more flexibility.
This approach gives hope and a plan to repair the brains of autistic children. This approach should also be used for other neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
This condition can be improved and even cured. There are lots of recovery stories from a nutritional and multifaceted approach.
There has to be a concerted effort to support the physical health of the body along with behavioral changes. The brain becomes more receptive to integrate the information to recover when it is well nourished.
The most strategic approach is to go to the underlying physiology, physical health and movement organization to regain the flexibility of the brain.
Kids and Food
Kids with autism and behavioral problems have issues with food. This can be dealt with behaviorally. It can take several months to get them to eat good food.
Try not to react negatively to these food issues because that is a reinforcement for the negative behavior. You want them to get to feel safe with the food. The way they do that is for them to play with the food, touch it and handle it and familiarize themselves with the food. This will gradually lead them to try the food after a while.
The parents need to be able to set limits within reason. Changing the diet of the whole family will help this along.
The GAPS diet is a perfect nutrient dense diet for the whole family to adopt with a great track record for success in recovery from autism. It is a grain and gluten free diet which is a must with autism. Gluten is a potent immune trigger for many people, especially those with brain disorders such a autism and Alzheimer’s.
As a practitioner, I have seen this first hand. When the parents are totally on board and follow the diet, the child has a very good chance of recovery. There are many such success stories reported on the internet.
Is Soy a Toxin?
Soy is still touted as a health food but it is far from it. It is just as bad as gluten for creating a leaky gut. The only exception is small amounts of fermented soy, but I would not include this on a healing diet until there has been a lot of healing.
Soy is a not a health food. It is a food with a high risk profile and will add to the total toxic load. This is a food to avoid.
Kids and Dietary Supplements
There is a place for supplements as a second line of treatment after the nutrient dense food. They should be high quality supplements and should be considered with help from a knowledgeable practitioner.
According to Dr. Herbert, along with a good nutrient dense diet, you could add:
Vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, selenium, molybenum, seaweed (for the minerals), folate and NAC (precursor to glutathione a powerful anti-oxident). These are nutrients that typically get depleted in cases of toxic over-load.
Autistic children are often poor methylators. Seek out a practitioner who can help support methylation.
Supplements and a nutrient dense diet like the above are also to be considered in the mother before a pregnancy so that the mother’s health is optimal.
See more about a nutrient dense diet for pre-conception.
Toxicity is our worst enemy. Learn how to incorporate nutrient dense food into your diet. Make every choice a healthy choice.
You can learn more about taking those first steps to Real Food by signing up for my newsletter and receive a gift of my Getting Started series (as well as a grain-free recipe e-book).
Some of this information was taken from the interview with Dr. Martha Herbert at the Detox Summit.
See Dr. Martha Herbert’s book, The Autism Revolution for further information references, and resources as well as her websites: TheRevolution.org and AutismWhyandHow.org.
It is online August 4 – 11 for free!
Can’t make it? You may purchase the entire event here.