It is estimated that one in 100 children in America are born with one of the various forms of Autism. So many, in fact, that public health officials have declared it a national health emergency. While intense treatments and specialized schools are expensive and difficult to get into, the government is now requiring public schools to offer educational options for Autistic students.
Autism is a spectrum disorder facing about one in every 44 American children, boys being four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. The causes of Autism are still unknown but research indicates that genetics are involved in the vast majority of cases. In the last few years, scientists have been able to identify the early signs in toddlers. Various forms of Autism can now be identified from the womb but the other symptoms are definitive before the child reaches three years of age.
While there is no one cause for autism, some specialists believe that a diet high in nutrients can help to increase brain function in autistic children to ensure a greater chance of normal development.
Common nutrient insufficiencies in autistic children were folic acid, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, as well as vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B12, and K. Food aversions or sensitivities cause some children to have too much or too little of certain nutrients.
Can a Raw Food Diet Benefit Children with Autism?
The Raw Food Diet was created in the late 1800s around the fact that the longer food is cooked, the more of its nutrients it loses. Therefore raw food is not cooked above 116 degrees Fahrenheit to keep it at its peak. People who follow the Raw Diet are often known as Vegans meaning that their diet is free of meat, dairy and eggs. About 75% to 80% of what raw foodists eat each day will be plant-based foods.
Prenatal doctors are starting to recommend that mothers-to-be change their diet to be 75% Raw. A complete overhaul of a personal diet is never a safe move but setting up a diet plan with a doctor is one step specialists are taking to help reduce a child’s risk of autism after birth. By increasing the amount of vitamins and minerals in a mother’s food intake while reducing the amount of toxins and preservatives in the prenatal stages can help to increase the fetus’s brain functions.
A raw food diet typically contains a lot of familiar foods that are considered nutritious choices, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted legumes, sprouted grains, and fermented foods.
Some examples for raw foods include but are not limited to:
Raw and dried fruits and vegetables
Raw coconut oil or butter
Raw flaxseed oil
Seeds and nuts
What Benefits Does a Raw Food Diet Provide to Children with Autism?
Even after birth, doctors recommend keeping the child on a 75% Raw diet. As a child, it is important to increase the child’s nutrient intake and the enzymes found in raw foods help to increase digestion to increase vitamin absorption in the body.
Vitamins such as Vitamin E and B3 are found in most greens and increase blood circulation to the brain. The Raw Diet also reduces the intake of refined sugars and flours which can aggravate symptoms of autism in most children.
Raw food diets also are typically high in fiber, supporting healthy digestion and low in sodium.
What Risks are Involved in Changing to the Raw Diet?
The Raw Diet is not a change that can be made in one day. It takes research and careful planning with the aid of a healthcare professional, especially for expecting mothers and young children. The diet needs to be based around whole grains and legumes that will provide the nutrients and protein needed to replace meats and dairy. Vitamin B12, the most essential vitamin to the human body, is difficult to find in a Raw diet so it is important that it is safely supplemented.
Switching to a Raw diet, even a 75% Raw diet, takes time and effort but studies have shown that it is well worth it in the fight against autism. Please speak to your doctor to determine if a raw food diet is right for you and your child with autism.
Part of our efforts to raise awareness during the month of April included two spots on WNDU’s Moms Everday. Take a moment and listen to what Lisa DelPrete (LAC Family Outreach Coordinator) and Sandy Maggioli (co-founder) had to say about the importance of early intervention and signs and symptoms of autism.
Few parents would argue that taking your child out to eat can be a challenging experience. When your child has autism that challenge is often magnified tenfold, the dirty looks from other patrons, the misinterpretation of behaviors, snide remarks about how you should better “control” your child.
It would be great if other people would demonstrate kindness and understanding. The fact is that you can’t control the reactions of others. That doesn’t mean you can’t take your child out to eat. Here are a few tips that you can use to make eating out a more enjoyable experience for your child and your family.