Thursday, December 29, 2005

Autism Increasingly Common--Parents Find that Diet and Supplements Help

Autism is "the fastest growing developmental disability among children. The number of children diagnosed with autism has risen from one in 2,000 15 years ago to one in 250 two years ago to 1 in 166 today."
(Autism ever more common: Mother assures parents there is hope, By TAMMY BOULD, The Register-Mail, Sunday, December 18, 2005)

The number of anecdotal cases of autistic children being helped by diets and supplements continues to grow and more and more parents are trying this approach despite the skepticism of doctors. For example, four-year-old Tyler Ferris of Galesburg, Illinois has autism and is helped by a special diet and supplements. (Autism ever more common). Joe and Selina Farrell of Orange County, California, started their son Joseph on a wheat- and dairy-free diet. "After some months, they said, Joseph began to think more clearly and had less self-stimulating behavior seen in autistic children." (Sunday, December 25, 2005, Alternative Approach: Parents of some autistic kids are at odds with many experts over the efficacy of nontraditional treatments, By JENIFER B. MCKIM, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER)

More parents nationwide are trying a wheat- and dairy-free diet to treat autism, many under the supervision of doctors trained by the Autism Research Institute. A conference held by Defeat Autism Now, a project of the Autism Research Institute that promotes the DAN! diet to treat autism, included a discussion of the "debated theory that autistic symptoms can be caused by intestinal and immune-system problems that prompt toxins to affect the brain."

More and more research has made connections between the diseases of modern civilization, immune system malfunctions (autoimmune illness), gastrointestinal problems and modern foods. If doctors were aware of the latest science in autism, evolutionary nutrition, and paleolithic anthropology, they might not doubt the parents of autistic children so much.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Brain Inflammation and Immune Activation Linked To Autism

Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 00:02 GMT
BBC News

Johns Hopkins University research, published in Annals of Neurology, "produced compelling evidence that autism may in some cases be linked to inflammation of the brain."

They found certain immune system components that promote inflammation are consistently activated in people with autism.


The condition has a strong genetic component [..., but] the number of children with autism appears to be increasing more than expected for a genetic disorder.

This suggests ... that genetic abnormalities require the influence of other factors to cause the disorder.

Birth complications, toxins, diet, and viruses and other pathogens have been suggested, though there is no strong evidence for any of these.


Compared with normal control brains, the brains of the people with autism were found to contain abnormal patterns of immune system proteins called cytokines and chemokines consistent with inflammation.

Researcher Dr Carlos Pardo-Villamizar said: "These findings reinforce the theory that immune activation in the brain is involved in autism [...]."

Similarly, samples of cerebrospinal fluid obtained from six children with autism were also found to contain elevated levels of cytokines.

The researchers say it might eventually be possible to develop a diagnostic test for autism based on looking for signs of inflammation - and that treating this inflammation might reduce the symptoms of autism.

Another study found raised levels of nitric oxide in the plasma of children with autism. Nitric oxide plays a role in the immune response, and is known to affect neurodevelopmental processes.

Autistic Child Helped by an Ancestral Diet

Ray Audette, author of NeanderThin, reported the following success story on June 29, 2004. While one anecdotal case like this is not strong scientific evidence, it does offer yet another ray of hope that the world's leadings scientists in the field of Paleolithic nutrition may be on to something:

Larry was vegetatively austistic when Mary first e-mailed me some years ago. I sent her a book (free) and a bag of pemmican in the next day[']s mail. One week later, she called me on the phone to tell me that Larry had started to say words again and was making eye contact for the first time in years. Two month[s] later she called again to tell me that Larry had hug[g]ed her and said "I love you Mommy". Last year she called to tell me that he had won the school spelling bee!

Helping Larry (and the others who have contacted me) was the most important thing I had ever done in my life. It is the reason I persist in being controversial in spite of personal and financial hardships I have endured to continue.

People who meet him tell me that Gray-Hawk (my own 9 year old son) is the best testimonial for my book. Helping others with their children is my way of thanking God for giving him to me.

Study Finds Food Allergies Suspected in GI Symptoms

Milk Not Seen as a Major Culprit

"In a previous study, Dr. Laura Paajanen of the Foundation for Nutrition Research in Helsinki and her team found evidence that gastrointestinal problems in school-age children were sometimes due an intolerance to cow's milk. They conducted the current investigation to determine the cause of similar discomfort in young adults."

Unfortunately, the placebo beverage contained soy, another modern food and also one that is associated with allergies. A true placebo beverage would contain no modern or more allergenic foods. They found milk induced symptoms in just 2 of the 23 study participants who completed the test, despite the fact that four of 47 study participants carried a gene associated with lactose intolerance (which would suggest that two participants should not include milk in their diet, despite showing no symptoms, because of genetic predisposition to intolerance).

However, study participants who had gastrointestinal problems did show higher levels of markers (antibodies) of immune system activity within their intestines and in their blood. "They were also twice as likely as people without symptoms to carry a gene associated with autoimmunity," according to study results.

"The findings suggest that some type of allergic reaction to food may cause such gastrointestinal symptoms, but that cow's milk is rarely the cause, the researchers report." Which leaves the question, which are the allergenic foods involved? Wheat is certainly worth investigating, based on past studies.

Cow's milk intolerance rare in young adults
Yahoo News
Wed Dec 14, 3:12 PM ET

Monday, December 12, 2005

ADD/ADHD Linked to Diet

The accumulating evidence is making it ever more difficult for anyone to deny a likely link between ADD/ADHD and diet. The holidays are an especially difficult time for parents of children with ADD/ADHD, because there are so many tempting and reactive modern foods available at this time of year: candy, cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, bread, stuffing and so on.

A study published in the May 2005 issue of the journal Pediatrics found that children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)--which has substantial overlap with ADHD, dyslexia and autism--had dramatic improvement in their ADHD-related symptoms after taking essential fatty acid supplements for three months. The symptoms that improved included hyperactivity, restless and impulsive behaviors, inattention, opposition, cognitive problems, and anxiety, and their performance on spelling and reading tests also improved, with no adverse side effects. Essential fatty acids like omega 3 fatty acids formed a much larger part of the Paleolithic diet than today's standard American diet (SAD).

A 1999 review of studies found that most of the evidence pointed to a link between ADD and diet and that the food industry was ignoring the growing body of evidence:

Studies Show that Diet May Trigger Adverse Behavior in Children
HHS urged to Recommend Dietary Changes as Initial Treatment

WASHINGTON - In a [1999] review of two dozen scientific studies, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) contends that food dyes and certain foods can adversely affect children's behavior. CSPI, in a 32-page report titled "Diet, ADHD, and Behavior," charges that federal agencies, professional organizations, and the food industry ignore the growing evidence that diet affects behavior.

The report cites 17 controlled studies that found that diet adversely affects some children's behavior, sometimes dramatically. Most of the studies focused on artificial colors, while some also examined the effects of milk, corn, and other common foods. The percentage of children who were affected by diet and the magnitude of the effect varied widely among the studies. Six other studies did not detect any behavioral effect of diet.

"It makes a lot more sense to try modifying a child's diet before treating him or her with a stimulant drug," said Dr. Marvin Boris, a pediatrician in Woodbury, New York, whose 1994 study found that diet affected the behavior of two-thirds of his subjects. [...]

Researchers have also found that 79% of hyperactive children improved when suspect foods (foods that included sugars, artificial colorings and flavorings and foods that seemed to cause allergic reactions--including dairy products, soy products, chocolate, wheat, oranges, eggs, legumes, mushrooms, and yeast containing foods) were eliminated from their diets, and that their symptoms worsened again when the foods were reintroduced. (March 9, 1985 issue of the British Medical Journal, Lancet).

As with autism and so many other modern illnesses and syndromes, accumulating evidence strongly suggests a link between ADD/ADHD and diet. This could help explain the recent rapid increase in ADD/ADHD cases, which coincides with increases in obesity, type 2 diabetes and other disorders and diseases of civilization. The Paleolithic/evolutionary model of nutrition could help explain a host of chronic modern illnesses.

Unfortunately, there aren't many large industries that would fund Paleolithic nutrition research the way there are for research seeking to demonstrate the benefits of modern foods like whole grains and low-fat dairy. There isn't a lot of profit to drive Paleo research, so humanity will likely have to suffer a lot longer before these findings become widely known and more thoroughly researched.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Autism - Diet Connection

The links: Autism – Autoimmune Disease – Connective Tissue Disorders – GI Disorders - Diet

In addition to the recent [controversial] links made between thimerosal (a mercury preservative commonly used in a number of childhood vaccines) and autism, there have also been links made between diet and autism, though not all studies support the connection. The evidence is sufficiently strong to make a dietary approach worth trying by parents, under the supervision of a doctor or nutritionist [open to ancestral diets], and worthy of further investigation by scientists.

Autism is an autoimmune disease (see Autoimmune Disease Research Foundation, A Theory of Autoimmune Disease, and Autoimmune Diseases, IMMUNOSCIENCES LAB., INC.). Many independent sources have found a link between autoimmune disease and diet. For example, the NeanderThin program, created by author Ray Audette, “is based on the authors’ research into the connection between autoimmune disease … and agricultural foods.” Dr. Loren Cordain of Colorado State University has also researched this connection. He states the following in his book, The Paleo Diet:

Many environmental agents have been suspected in the development of autoimmune diseases. But only one of these types has proved capable of causing a disease. Cereal grains—such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats—are responsible for celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. In celiac disease, the immune system attacks and destroys cells in the intestine, leading to diarrhea and many nutritional problems. In dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin is attacked.

Withdrawal of all gluten-containing cereals causes complete remission of both diseases. Cereal grains, dairy products, and legumes are suspected in other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Autism has many symptoms and characteristics in common with connective tissue disorders. There is a strong connection between connective tissue disorders, diet and nutritional deficiencies, which is explored in depth at Sandy Simmon’s Web site ( Symptoms that are associated with both autism and connective tissue disorders include (but are not restricted to): allergies, anxiety, arrhythmia, asthma, attention deficit disorder, autistic-like behaviors, bowel symptoms, eye disorders, food intolerances and allergies, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, mood instability, muscle pain, obsessive-compulsive disorder, repetitive language, sleep difficulties, and strong food preferences and aversions. One connective tissue disorder, fragile x, is found in 10% of autism cases.

Research has linked autism to gastrointestinal disorders. A University of Maryland study strongly made the link:

1999 Releases - University of Maryland Medical News
Originally Released: December 12, 1999
BMJ 2002;325:419-421 ( 24 August 1999 )

Children with autism have a much higher rate of gastrointestinal disorders than other children, according to a study conducted by doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. The study, led by Karoly Horvath, M.D., Ph.D, further suggests that gastrointestinal disorders may contribute to some of the behavioral problems associated with autistic children and may be caused by low levels of the hormone secretin in the body.

…. Fifty-eight percent of the examined children with autism suffered from chronic diarrhea caused by malabsorption of carbohydrates. ….

Numerous studies have linked autism to diet. Here are links and excerpts from just some of them:

Nutr Neurosci. 2002 Sep;5(4):251-61.
A randomised, controlled study of dietary intervention in autistic syndromes.
Knivsberg AM, Reichelt KL, Hoien T, Nodland M.

The development for the group of children on diet was significantly better than for the controls.

Panminerva Med. 1995 Sep;37(3):137-41.
Food allergy and infantile autism.
Lucarelli S, Frediani T, Zingoni AM, Ferruzzi F, Giardini O, Quintieri F, Barbato M, D'Eufemia P, Cardi E.

“The aim of the present study has been to verify the efficacy of a cow's milk free diet (or other foods which gave a positive result after a skin test) in 36 autistic patients. We also looked for immunological signs of food allergy in autistic patients on a free choice diet. We noticed a marked improvement in the behavioural symptoms of patients after a period of 8 weeks on an elimination diet and we found high levels of IgA antigen specific antibodies for casein, lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin and IgG and IgM for casein. The levels of these antibodies were significantly higher than those of a control group which consisted of 20 healthy children. Our results lead us to hypothesise a relationship between food allergy and infantile autism as has already been suggested for other disturbances of the central nervous system.”

Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2002 Apr;6(2):175-83.
Biochemical aspects in autism spectrum disorders: updating the opioid-excess theory and presenting new opportunities for biomedical intervention.
Shattock P, Whiteley P.

“One area of interest … is the opioid-excess theory of autism. The main premise of this theory is that autism is the result of a metabolic disorder. Peptides with opioid activity derived from dietary sources, in particular foods that contain gluten and casein, pass through an abnormally permeable intestinal membrane and enter the central nervous system (CNS) to exert an effect on neurotransmission, as well as producing other physiologically-based symptoms. Numerous parents and professionals worldwide have found that removal of these exogenously derived compounds through exclusion diets can produce some amelioration in autistic and related behaviours. There is a surprisingly long history of research accompanying these ideas. The aim of this paper is to review the accompanying evidence in support of this theory and present new directions of intervention as a result of it.”

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004(2):CD003498.
Gluten- and casein-free diets for autistic spectrum disorder.
Millward C, Ferriter M, Calver S, Connell-Jones G.

BACKGROUND: It has been suggested that peptides from gluten and casein may have a role in the origins of autism and that the physiology and psychology of autism might be explained by excessive opioid activity linked to these peptides. Research has reported abnormal levels of peptides in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid of persons with autism. If this is the case, diets free of gluten and /or casein should reduce the symptoms associated with autism. ….

MAIN RESULTS: The one trial included reported results on four outcomes. Unsurprisingly in such a small-scale study, the results for three of these outcomes (cognitive skills, linguistic ability and motor ability) had wide confidence intervals that spanned the line of nil effect. However, the fourth outcome, reduction in autistic traits, reported a significant beneficial treatment effect for the combined gluten- and casein- free diet.

Food allergy and infantile autism.
Authors: Lucarelli S , Frediani T , Zingoni AM , Ferruzzi F , Giardini O , Quintieri F Barbato M, D'Eufemia P , Cardi E
Department of Paediatrics, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.
Panminerva Med 1995 Sep;37(3):137-41

“Researchers at Johnson & Johnson have found a very toxic compound in the urine of children with autism - dermorphin. Dermorphin is only found one other place in nature - the poison of the Amazonian Poison Dart Frog! It is 10 million times more potent and toxic than morphine (Alan Friedman, PhD at J&J). Other researchers have confirmed it is essentially always present in children with autism that receive even tiny amounts of casein or gluten.”

The rate of autism in the population in America has been rising, indicating an environmental factor(s) in causation. Even though thimerosal is being phased out, autism rates have been rising, suggesting that there is another factor(s) involved.

Autism's Surge Mystifies
By Anita Manning, USA TODAY
May 18, 2004, p. 8D

Autism, once a rare and mysterious disorder, is no longer so rare. A generation ago, only two to four of every 10,000 children were labeled autistic. Today, it's more like 60 per 10,000 by some estimates.

But no one knows why. Experts cite a much greater awareness of autism and related conditions, grouped as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and a broader definition that has allowed children who might otherwise have been overlooked to receive a diagnosis. But they also say there has been an actual increase, and the reasons for that are not entirely clear — though there are plenty of theories.


"We know there are genetic factors," Hollander says, but something else may also be involved. "It is possible there are environmental factors" that trigger the genes.

Several possibilities have been investigated, from junk-food diets, which are high in fatty acids that could interfere with the coating of nerve cells in the brain, to a drug used to induce labor in pregnant women. But no environmental link has been found.

Friday, December 02, 2005

List of Scientists Supporting the Paleo Model is Growing

More and more scientists, doctors and experts are doing research related to Paleolithic nutrition and advocating the basic Paleolithic nutritional and lifestyle model, including the following:

• Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, author of The Paleo Diet,
• S Boyd Eaton, MD, Professor of Radiology and Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, author of The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet and Exercise and a Design for Living
• Lionel Tiger, Ph.D., Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University
• Jeanne Sept, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington
• Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD, founder and President of The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington, D.C., author of The Omega Diet
• Bo Ahren, MD, Head, Research Department, Lund University Hospital, Sweden
• Anthony Sebastian, MD, Department of Medicine and UCSF/Moffitt General Clinical Research Center, University of California, San Francisco
• Bruce A. Watkins, Ph.D., Professor and University Faculty Scholar, Director of the Center for Enhancing Foods to Protect Health, Purdue University
• Mary D. Eades, MD, co-author of Protein Power: The High-Protein/Low Carbohydrate Way to Lose Weight, Feel Fit, and Boost Your Health-in Just Weeks!
• Michael R. Eades, MD, co-author of Protein Power: The High-Protein/Low Carbohydrate Way to Lose Weight, Feel Fit, and Boost Your Health-in Just Weeks!
• Paul W. Ewald, Ph.D., Evolutionary biologist, Professor of Biology at Amherst College
• Greg L. Florant, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology, Colorado State University
• Kristen Hawkes, Professor of Anthropology, University of Utah,
• Magdalena Hurtado, Associate Professor of Anthropology, a human evolutionary ecologist who has spent many years studying the Ache, a group of hunter-gatherers who live in the South American country of Paraguay; her story is told in Anthropologist: Scientist of the People, by Mary Batten
• James H. O'Keefe, Jr, MD, Mid America Heart Institute, Cardiovascular Consultants
• Neil Mann, the Department of Food Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
• Staffan Lindeberg, the Department of Medicine, Lund University, Sweden
• Bruce A Watkins, the Department of Food Science, Lipid Chemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
• Janette Brand-Miller, the Human Nutrition Unit, Department of Biochemistry, University of Sydney, Australia
• Peter S. Ungar, Professor of Anthropology, University of Utah, co-editor of Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution
• Mark F. Teaford, Professor of Anthropology, Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, co-editor of Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution
• Eric B. Ross, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Institute of Social Studies, co-editor of Food and Evolution: Toward a Theory of Human Food Habits
• Melvin Konner, Ph.D., Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Emory University,

and more ....

GI Disorders Linked to Modern Foods

Accumulating evidence links gastrointestinal diseases and disorders to modern foods. Leading scientists believe that the reason grains, as well as dairy and possibly legumes, contribute to the development of GI diseases and other chronic disorders is that the human body has not evolved to digest these agrarian foods. The human body is believed to be best adapted to eating the wild foods that were consumed from 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago--not the modern (agrarian and processed) foods introduced during the last 10,000 years. The diseases that result from consuming these modern foods, which include diverticulosis, diverticulitis, and other GI disorders, are called "diseases of civilization."

Diverticulosis, which is an acquired condition marked by mucosal herniation through defects in the colonic wall, has been termed both a "disease of the 20th century" and a "disease of Western civilization" due to its increasing prevalence in modern times and its striking geographical variability. (S. Jun and N. Stollman, Epidemiology of Diverticular Disease, Best Practice & Research: Clinical Gastroenterology, 2002 Aug;16(4):529-42)

Interestingly, diverticulosis was virtually unknown prior to the 20th century, and all studies indicate that its prevalence is increasing, especially in the urban areas of Western countries. An increasing incidence also is occurring in population groups that have moved from rural or less-developed regions to industrialized centers. The low incidence of diverticulosis in the less-developed countries of Africa may be explained in part by the high fiber content of the diet in those areas. (Ralph M. Myerson, Control diverticulosis with a high-fiber diet - includes related information, Better Nutrition (1989-90), August, 1989)

Modern foods like sugars, vegetable oils, dairy products, refined grains, and even whole grains, contain much less fiber than the fruits and vegetables common in most Stone Age diets. This lower intake of high quality dietary fiber may contribute to some modern illnesses.

Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century
Loren Cordain, S Boyd Eaton, Anthony Sebastian, Neil Mann, Staffan Lindeberg, Bruce A Watkins, James H O’Keefe and Janette Brand-Miller
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Fiber content

The fiber content (15.1 g/d) (23) of the typical US diet is considerably lower than recommended values (25–30 g) (116). Refined sugars, vegetable oils, dairy products, and alcohol are devoid of fiber and constitute an average of 48.2% of the energy in the typical US diet (Table 1). Furthermore, fiber-depleted, refined grains represent 85% of the grains consumed in the United States (Table 1), and because refined grains contain 400% less fiber than do whole grains (by energy), they further dilute the total dietary fiber intake. Fresh fruit typically contains twice the amount of fiber in whole grains, and nonstarchy vegetables contain almost 8 times the amount of fiber in whole grains on an energy basis (64). Fruit and vegetables known to be consumed by hunter-gatherers also maintain considerably more fiber than do their domestic counterparts (145). Contemporary diets devoid of cereal grains, dairy products, refined oils and sugars, and processed foods have been shown to contain significantly more fiber (42.5 g/d) than either current or recommended values (159).

Once again, the displacement of fiber-rich plant foods by novel dietary staples, introduced during the Neolithic and Industrial periods, was instrumental in changing the diets that our species had traditionally consumed—a diet that would have almost always been high in fiber. Soluble fibers (those found primarily in fruit and vegetables) modestly reduce total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations beyond those achieved by a diet low in saturated fat and fiber, by slowing gastric emptying, may reduce the appetite and help to control caloric intake (171). Diets low in dietary fiber may underlie or exacerbate constipation, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins, diverticulitis, hiatal hernia, and gastroesophageal reflux (172).

Some medical doctors, such as Sidney V. Haas and Harv Haakonson, have for years had much success treating their patients with diets that are lower in modern foods like grains (,,, ).

Unfortunately, it usually takes many years for radical scientific breakthroughs to filter down into the general medical community and spread out beyond the innovators and early adopters. So in general, the best source of dietary information today is not MD’s or nutritionists—it is anthropologists who have studied hunter-gatherers.