Eating For Autism: Food Additives That Make Autism Worse

One of the biggest mistakes we see parents make when it comes to incorporating nutrition therapy into their children’s treatment program is jumping into advanced interventions instead of starting with the basics. 

In nutrition therapy, each step builds upon the previous one, becoming more advanced as you work your way through the program. The first thing you need to do is identify and resolve any basic nutrition issues your child may have. He won’t be able to properly respond to or benefit from advanced nutrition interventions if basic nutrition is still a problem. Basic nutrition has become a serious issue for our children over the last twenty years because it has changed so dramatically.

The food children eat today is nothing like the food children ate in previous generations. Today, children subsist mainly on foods that are highly processed, lacking in nutrients, and loaded with artificial chemicals, preservatives, trans fats, excess sugar, and pesticide residues. 

Today we will take a closer look and find out which additives present in our daily meals are causing gut disruptions in autism.


Food Additives That Destroy The Autistic Gut

Take a look at the ingredients list on some of the packaged foods you have in your refrigerator or pantry and make sure to avoid anything that contains the following chemicals:



There are twenty-four different types of synthetic food additives found in the foods we eat. Before a food additive is added to our foods, it must be deemed “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that it’s been proven safe for the general public and poses no significanhealth hazard, such as promoting cancer. But the reality is that we are consuming human-made chemicals with virtually every bite of food, and no one really knows what effect they may be having on our immune, respiratory, endocrine, and nervous systems. 

There’s a lot of controversy in the medical community about what the short- and long-term impact of these chemicals may be on a growing child’s brain and nervous system. The autism community is particularly concerned about four of the synthetic food additives: artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Here is a list of the twenty-four types of food additives found in the foods we eat:


  • acidity regulators 
  • anti-caking agents 
  • anti-foaming agents 
  • food coloring 
  • color fixatives 
  • color retention 
  • emulsifiers 
  • firming agents 
  • flavor enhancers 
  • flour treatment 
  • food acids 
  • gelling agents 
  • glazing agents 
  • humectants 
  • improving agents 
  • mineral salts 
  • preservatives 
  • propellants
  • seasonings 
  • sequestrants 
  • stabilizers
  •  artificial sweeteners 
  •  thickeners 
  •  vegetable gums


Artificial Colors

There are seven artificial colors currently permitted in our foods in the United States: Blue No. 1, Blue No. 2, Green No. 3, Red No. 40, Red No. 3, Yellow No. 5, and Yel-low No. 6. There’s a growing body of research that indicates some children are sensitive to these artificial colors and that they aggravate their ADD and ADHD symptoms. Most recently, a study published in the November 2007 issue of The Lancet concluded that artificial colors in the diets of children resulted in increased hyperactivity. 


Artificial Flavors 

Artificial flavors are chemically synthesized compounds added to foods to either imitate or enhance a natural flavor. There are approximately seventeen hundred artificial flavors approved by the FDA. An artificial flavor of particular concern in the autism community is monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is the sodium salt of an amino acid called glutamic acid and the ionized form of glutamate. It’s used commercially as a flavor enhancer and found in many common food products such as canned soups, beef, and chicken stocks, flavored potato chips, snack foods, frozen dinners, instant meals with seasoning mixtures, and foods from fast-food restaurants.


Artificial Preservatives

A preservative is a natural or human-made chemical that is added to food products to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi, inhibit oxidation, and prevent changes in the food’s color, odor, and taste. Natural preservatives include salt, sugar, and vinegar, and the processes of freezing, pickling, smoking, and salting are also used to preserve foods naturally. Artificial preservatives are controversial because research has shown that some of them cause various health problems, respiratory problems, and cancer. Research also shows that artificial preservatives aggravate ADD and ADHD symptoms in some children. Artificial preservatives do affect your child. A research study conducted in New York City Public Schools showed that when artificial additives, including preservatives, were eliminated from the school food program, the student’s academic performance increased and disciplinary problems decreased.


Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are human-made compounds that are many times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar. Their safety and potential for health risks, including cancer, has been a longstanding controversy in the medical community. The three most commonly used artificial sweeteners in the United States are saccharin (Sweet’N Low), sucralose (Splenda), and aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal). Saccharin, the first artificial sweetener created, is three hundred to five hundred times sweeter than table sugar. Saccharin is FDA-approved in the United States, but some countries allow only a restricted level of use, and other countries have banned it completely. 

Though all of these artificial sweeteners are approved for use by the FDA, there’s still much debate surrounding their long-term safety, especially for children who could potentially have decades of continued exposure. It’s important to understand that just because a food additive has been approved by the FDA as GRAS, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for our children. Aspartame is a perfect example of this fact. We urge you to be cautious and eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your child’s diet. 



Trans fat is the product of hydrogenation, which is the process by which hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oil. The fatty acids in the oil then acquire some of the hydrogen, which makes it denser. 

Typically, the hydrogenation process is only partially completed in order to produce a more malleable fat that is solid at room temperature but will melt upon baking. Partially hydrogenated fats have replaced natural solid fats and natural liquid oils in our foods because they’re cheaper to use than the real thing, and they prolong the shelf life and flavor stability of foods. 

When you start reading food labels, you may be astonished by the number of products that contain partially hydrogenated oils and therefore trans fat. Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some kinds of margarine, crackers, cookies, chips, cakes, pies, bread, snack foods, and foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils. It’s also used in some dietary supplements, energy bars, and nutrition bars. 


Tips For Reducing Food Additive Consumption 

Most families live a pretty fast-paced lifestyle these days, and finding time to prepare home-cooked meals made with fresh whole foods can be difficult. Instead, more and more families depend on the convenience of pre-packaged foods and fast foods. The following tips will help you reduce your family’s food additive consumption:

-Buy one or two cookbooks with recipes to prepare healthy meals in thirty minutes or less so making meals from scratch is easier to fit into your schedule.

-Every weekend, plan your meals for the upcoming week and check to make sure you have the ingredients you need on hand.

-When you cook a meal, make the most of your time by preparing enough food for leftovers. You can freeze them and reheat them for dinner another day.

-Keep it simple—children prefer simple meals.


Remember, A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep, and effective digestion, and it may help prevent some cancers and autoimmune diseases, so taking good care of it will bring benefits to your child’s physical, emotional, and mental health.  

At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with stem cell therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation, and improving brain function. We also created an autistic community on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.

Autistic people face challenges, that most people will never experience, in unsuitable education styles, inadequate facilities, and even lack of support from society. Let’s build a better world where inclusion, awareness, empathy, and opportunities are given to all individuals equally. Our Autistic children have many things to say, let’s make their voices louder for all of the world to hear!

At WSCC, we honor Autism Awareness Month with an incredible special!


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