Is ketogenic diet the new Autism diet?

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In a handful of options, is keto-diet the right answer?

Many studies on mice that exhibit similar behaviors as humans with autism have provided us with promising results. In these studies, researchers found that the ketogenic diet can improve and even reverse autism-like behaviors in mice.

Is the same effect reported in children with autism?

In a pilot study of 30 children with autism, the participants were placed on a ketogenic diet for six months. 23 of the 30 children tolerated the diet beyond the initial four weeks, and of those, five more discontinued the diet due to lack of improvement. Of the remaining 18 kids, two boys improved enough in symptoms to be taken out of special education classes and placed in mainstream education.

Overall, the 18 children that stuck to the ketogenic diet “presented with improvements in their social behavior and interactions, speech, cooperation, stereotypy [repetitive movements or utterances], and… hyperactivity, which contributed significantly to their improvement in learning.”

These are incredible results, but the most surprising finding of the study is that the children maintained their improvements when they went back to their regular diet.

The Keto-Diet

The ketogenic diet also called the keto diet, is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets.

It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.

Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits like improving gut health, which has a tremendously positive impact on behavior and brain health.

Foods to Eat

You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:

  • Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, and turkey.
  • Fatty fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel.
  • Eggs: Look for pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
  • Butter and cream: Look for grass-fed when possible.
  • Cheese: Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
  • Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
  • Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.

Foods to Avoid

In short, any food that is high in carbs should be limited. Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:

  • Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
  • Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
  • Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
  • Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
  • Unhealthy fat: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.

At World Stem Cell Clinic, we believe that that having an informed parent –in an effort to empower him and his family– is the only way to for us to deliver optimal healthcare. Visit our website to find out more about our services and let us be part of your journey. You are not alone!

Sources:
www.ruled.me/autism-ketogenic-diet
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5293204
www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101

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