In 2015 Autism was reported to affect as many as 1 in every 45 children in the US,impairing their social interactions and typically producing high anxiety and repetitive behaviors. However, another common biological symptom amongst autistic children is gastrointestinal disorder. Often these children suffer from chronic constipation,
abdominal pain, acid reflux, and poor digestion. Many doctors are now turning to probiotics, which have shown to be successful in treating some, if not all, of these symptoms. However, the really exciting part is that, through this treatment plan,many families are witnessing improvements in other autistic behaviors such as better social interactions and a decrease in anxious repetitive behaviours.
Early studies have shown that children with autism have different microbes within the intestinal system when compared with kids without autism, but so far these studies have not been decisive in pinpointing the specific differences. The link between the brain and the gut has been gaining attention, with the vagus nerve thought to be a key link between the two. This nerve is responsible for certain fear reactions, such as when you feel butterflies in your stomach or feel sick to the stomach in times of stress. Chemicals produced by bacteria in the gut are thought to have an effect on this nerve, thus affecting its signals to the brain.
A recent study involved the supplementation of Lactobacillus reuteri in mice who displayed autistic tendencies such as social avoidance and repetitive behaviours. Both of these conditions improved with this supplementation, opening a new possible explanation of how beneficial bacteria can affect brain function. Scientists led by neuroscientist Mauro Costa-Mattioli, director of the Memory and Brain Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, found that increasing the level of Lactobacillus reuteri increased the production of oxytocin, a hormone that partially controls social behaviours. Findings also show improvement in brain plasticity, which is the brains ability to make new connections and take on new information. Further studies funded by Autism Speaks are happening now, with the aim of focusing on the differing strains of gut bacteria in children with and without autism,
as well as with and without GI disorders. However, the aim is not to find a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather to devise a program that uses biomarkers through stool sampling to guide personalised probiotic treatment plans for autistic children.
Reading University in the UK performed a study that involved 40 autistic children. It was a blind test, with half the children receiving probiotics and others a placebo. The marked improvements in behaviour and concentration were so apparent that it was obvious which children had been given probiotics. When it came time to change
over the treatment, the families giving the children probiotics refused to switch, saying that it would be cruel to take away such a positive treatment. The experiment thus failed to be completed; however, the results were highly positive in favour of a probiotic treatment plan.
Miessence Probiotics and Homemade Ferments
Miessences InLiven probiotic superfood blend has been formulated to contain the core family of beneficial lactobacillus bacteria. The strains are extremely hardy due
to being put through a large variety of stresses, including heat, cold, and chemicals commonly found in drinking water and processed foods. In this way, the bacteria
are able to make it into the digestive tract alive to be ready to repopulate the gut colonies. It is also filled with important prebiotics, which are the food on which the probiotics thrive. The 26 living whole foods used in InLiven are pre-digested through a unique fermentation process for three weeks before bottling, which increases the bioavailability of the nutrients within, meaning the nutrients are easily absorbed by the body. A daily serving of this powdered superfood blend helps to keep the gut flora balanced. You can start supplementing your child’s diet from any age, but most customers start from the age of two with a ¼ teaspoon daily serving.
Of course, you can also start adding in other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha, which all contain different strains and levels of beneficial bacteria. It is worth experimenting, as every digestive system is different and may It is worth experimenting, as every digestive system is different and may require different input to bring about balance. As the gut-brain connection becomes more widely recognised and understood, exciting times lie ahead for the potential of individualised probiotic treatment plans for autistic children. Probiotics are an easy, safe, and healthy place to start.