Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), diet, and the gut microbiome

Photo credit:  Anna Kolosyuk

Photo credit: Anna Kolosyuk

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

Health begins in the gut.


It's where 80% of your immune system is located. If your gut health is impaired, so is your immune system.


Your body runs on nutrients from foods you eat. Those nutrients are the gas that fuels your engine. If your gut health is impaired, so is your digestion. If you can't digest food appropriately, you won't be able to get nutrients from the foods you eat. Every system in your body will experience ill effects over time. Think about it, your car can't run without fuel, right? How can your body?


Your gut microbiome, which is the billions of bacteria that live in your gut (large intestine/colon to be exact) impacts your health in its entirety. We know this now from scientific research linking the gut microbiome to various health conditions and disease states, both inside and outside the gastrointestinal tract.


One of those health conditions is autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Not only does diet play a role in ASD, so does the gut microbiome.



Let's talk about diet first. If your child has ASD, or behavioral problems, step 1 is to look at their diet. Are they eating gluten, lots of carbs, and/or dairy?


I see a lot of children with ASD and behavioral disorders, and the first thing we do is REMOVE GLUTEN. Celiac disease, diagnosed gluten intolerance/sensitivity/etc. or not, REMOVE GLUTEN.


Every case I've worked with a child with ASD or behavioral issues where we've removed gluten from the diet resulted in symptom improvement. EVERY CASE.


You don't want to go cold turkey, especially with children, because removing gluten can cause withdrawal symptoms. Here's what you can do:

  • Take gluten out of breakfast for week 1

  • Take gluten out of breakfast and lunch for week 2

  • Take gluten out of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for week 3

Start there, and give it some time. Often it takes a while for the body to stop reacting to gluten, even after it's removed from the diet.


You also only want to remove only 1 food at a time to see what works and what doesn't. Elimination diets can be dangerous and lead to worsening of health problems as I mentioned last week.


If removing gluten doesn't help, you can explore additional diet changes, but do so with guidance from a professional to avoid the pitfalls of elimination diets.



Now let's touch on the gut microbiome. Imbalances here are linked to ASD and behavioral issues in children.


Along with diet changes, exploring the gut microbiome and resolving imbalances there can bring symptom relief.


This involves a functional stool test, like GI Map, or GI Effects. These stool tests are different than what you get from your conventional medical doctor, and are far (FAR) superior to kits like Viome, Biome and other direct to consumer testing that's available nowadays.


If you are investing in your child's health and exploring gut testing, don't waste time and money on subpar interventions. Do it right.


For questions and guidance, get on my calendar for an introductory consultation and optional free functional health assessment! CLICK HERE!

Where Does Autoimmune Disease Come From? 

Photo credit:

Photo credit:


This is another root cause situation. For autoimmune disease to occur, there are 3 factors that need to be present.

  1. Genetic predisposition

  2. Environmental triggers that turn on the gene

  3. Leaky gut

While we can't change number 1, there are things we can do about numbers 2 and 3. For example, autoimmune disease goes hand in hand (in hand) with digestive imbalances, gut infections, and food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances (which can serve as an environmental triggers).

Problems in our guts can cause inflammation there. This upsets the delicate lining of the gastrointestinal tract. That lining is only one cell layer thick! Those cells are held together by tight junctions. Inflammation causes those junctions to become loose, and then we have leaky gut. 

Food particles that are not completely digested are able to leak out, and they end up in our blood stream. They are not supposed to be there so our immune system begins to respond. Overtime this heightened immune response can begin to target any area of the body. In the lungs, we can get asthma, in the joints we can get arthritis (rheumatoid and psoriatic) and in the skin we can get atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. These are just some examples of conditions that can be tied to gut issues. You might not even have gastrointestinal symptoms, so while all this is happening, you are unaware of the problems brewing in your gut.

What can be done? Addressing the underlying causes can lessen symptoms and help control progression of your condition. The plan includes:

  1. Using a comprehensive digestive stool analysis to identify gut infections

  2. Getting tested for food allergies and sensitivities

  3. Working with a professional to guide you appropriately, there is no one size fits all approach, you are an individual and a personalized plan must be developed for you based on appropriate assessment of your history, present situation, goals you have for your future, and appropriate testing (like the two mentioned above)