Eating for autism?

CBC News is reporting that the University of Ontario has found a connection between autistic behavior and digestion:

UWO researchers investigated the “gut-brain” connection after many parents of autistic children reported significant improvements in the behaviour of their autistic children when they modified their diet, eliminating dairy and wheat products, Dr. Derrick MacFabe, the director of a research group at UWO in London, Ont., told CBC News Thursday.

Researchers were particularly interested in one dietary characteristic the autistic children seemed to exhibit, he said.

“Certainly, a lot of these children had peculiar cravings for high-carbohydrate foods that caused their behaviours,” he said.

“We were interested in finding a link between certain compounds that are produced by bacteria in the digestive system — particularly those occurring with early childhood infections.”

The bacteria produce propionic acid, a short chain fatty acid, which in addition to existing in the gut, is commonly found in bread and dairy products, MacFabe said.

The researchers injected rats’ brains with propionic acid, and the rats suddenly (essentially) started behaving like autistic kids – and their brains underwent the same changes seen in autistic human brains. Physical changes.

Grilled cheese sandwiches. Mac and cheese. Wholewheat cereal and milk.


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