Autism and Neurology: Nutritional Facts vs. Myths


Autism and Neurology: Nutritional Facts vs. Myths


Autistic and Neurology people face a multitude of problems throughout their life due to developmental disorders. Autistic children have lower cognitive abilities and can not communicate properly. They face difficulty socializing with others, have learning disabilities, and have food aversion tendencies that affect their specific autism diet

Autistic children are more sensitive to light, sound, taste, touch, and other factors, which prompts them towards food aversion. They do not like every food. They have a strong preference for food that is mostly processed and fast food. They tend to avoid eating fruits, vegetables, and other healthy products. 

The food aversion tendency of an autistic person leads to malnutrition and poor behavioral development in most cases. However, there are certain facts to keep in mind while fulfilling the nutritional needs of an autistic person. 

Neurology And Autism 

Autism is a multifactorial polygenic neurobiological disorder that reduces the developmental progression of the human brain. A polygenic trait is influenced by two or more gene expressions. Autism primarily involves dysfunction of the central nervous system, cortex, and neurons, along with associated brain development. 

Autism is a disorder of interhemispheric connectivity that is located within a hemisphere or two hemispheres of the brain. Autistic people showed aberration during magnetic resonance, which involved connectivity issues in the white matter and intracortical zone. 

The neural development in autistic people shares a broad cognitive and neurological malfunctioning. 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that exhibits a deficiency in social skills and communication, including verbal and nonverbal, and shows restricted or repetitive behavior.   

Neurological functioning in autism leads to cognitive disability in 70% of cases and seizures in 30% of cases. This is due to the dysfunction of the association cortex, both the primary sensory and motor cortex. 

Nutritional Myths And Autism

Autistic children suffer from a myriad of gastrointestinal troubles for their tendencies towards food aversion, food preference, and gut microbiota condition. However, some people falsely believe that certain foods contribute to causing autism in children. There are certain nutritional myths associated with people suffering from autism, as follows. 

False Diet

According to a study by Dr. Karl Reichelt in 1991, people who are suffering from celiac disease can become autistic by adding gluten and casein to the diet. 

After absorption of casein and gluten in the gut, it breaks down into peptides which imitate the effects caused by opioids. According to the notion of the doctor, two opioid-like structures formed from both of the peptides can cause autism in return. 

DAN Protocol 

Dr. Bernard Rimland, who is the founder of the Autism Research Institute, has stated that vaccinating pregnant women can cause autism. He created an approach to beat autism which is called Defeat Autism Now (DAN).   

According to the DAN protocol, many doctors believed in the 1960s that autism was caused by various biomedical issues, including the lowered immune system, external toxins, vaccines, certain foods, and other sources. 

DAN Protocol also claimed that autism could be cured via medical interventions. The DAN-approved medical interventions were expensive, yet worried parents went through the ordeal to cure their children. 

The biomedical interventions included nutritional therapy, removing heavy metals from the body, and hyperbaric oxygen treatment, so they eventually decided to stop with these procedures.

The DAN Protocol gained popularity during the 1990s and early 2000s. Later in 2011, the DAN Protocol was completely discontinued by the Autism Research Institute.  

Autistic Children Are Low Functioning 

Autistic children face trouble dealing with food due to their psychological disabilities. Children are more averted towards food intake. Sometimes their preferred food is only carbohydrate-related fast foods.  This is why they are often malnourished and lethargic. 

People believe that autistic people are low functioning. However, sometimes they ignore the fact that malnutrition can also play a huge role in their low performance and reduced activities.

Nutritional facts And Autism 

Autistic children tend to have tendencies towards food aversion. While they would prefer processed oily foods like burgers, nuggets, and pasta, they tend to avoid vegetables and fruits. Autistic children have a sweet tooth, and they crave ice creams, sweets, and chocolates which lead to dental problems in the later stages of their life. 

Nutritional Supplements For Autistic People 

Because of their preferences, autistic people lack balanced nutrition. In order to meet their daily requirements of nutrition, you can feed them vitamins and minerals. 

Vitamins such as vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, and limited consumption of dairy products. In that case, multivitamin products with no added dairy substance can be helpful. 

You don’t have to follow any strict or false dietary regime which doesn’t have a strong basis or case study. A false nutritional diet can contribute to more gastrointestinal troubles in autistic people. 

Tendency Of Food Selectivity 

Food selectivity is a tendency of autistic children. They often prefer only one type of food. In most cases, those are fast or processed food and sugar-containing desserts. 

The feeling of food aversion is so much in autistic children that they will not eat anything other than their preferred food. 

This is the reason why autistic children are often malnourished. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this fixation on only a particular food is manifested by sameness and the inability to fix a healthy regime or routine. 

Nutritional dietary supplements can not be the only way to stop such food selectivity tendencies. Rather you need a more diverse approach. You need to observe the food’s color, texture, smell, and presentation as a preventive measure to stop food aversion. 

Low Functioning Tendency and Its Cure 

Children suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ADS) have an altered gut microbiota. 

According to a study, autistic children have more Bacteroidetes and a decreased amount of Firmicutes, a type of gram-positive gut bacteria that contribute to maintaining a healthy gut environment and improves digestion. 

The gut microbiome plays a role in the behavioral aspect of people suffering from ADS. an improvement in the gut microbiome, including probiotic drinks, can improve mood and help in digestion.   

Probiotics mostly contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, including yeast and Saccharomyces, that helps in maintaining a balance in the gut microbiome in autistic people and children. 

A balance between healthy gut microorganisms can effectively improve mood and positively impact behaviors. This can elevate a person suffering from ADS to function normally by keeping their mental condition in check. 


The fact is autism can never be cured, but its effects can be minimized with the help of nutritional supplements and a balanced diet. You can ensure that people suffering from ASD are given optimum nutrition including vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. 

You can consult a nutrition therapist to know in detail about the doses of supplements. Always fact check before providing supplements to your autistic child.