Friday, 15 June 2012

Probiotics.... For Life

Yesterday was a good day...
The sun was shining, the weather was warm, we had good friends over for a long overdue visit out on the deck, and my little man was in his typical (as of late) easy-going mood.

My girlfriend has been very close with Max since he was but a babe, she actually cared for him while I was at work for over a year. If there is anyone other than my husband who truly understands how day to day generally is with Max, it's her.

So today, when she asked what was the cause for the drastic positive change in little man's behaviour, I was ecstatic and excitedly said "probiotics".

Bacteria Clip Art

When we first began the GFCF diet, we also started a probiotic regimen along side it. Now we all know now a days that probiotics are great for everyone (thank you activia) and that they aid in a plethora of digestive and gastro-intestinal issues. It wasn't until we stopped giving Max the probiotic and then began again without the big change of the diet at the same time that we really saw the impact they were making.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that naturally exist in the healthy gut. When there is an imbalance in the gut due to illness, antibiotic use, steroids, birth control, etc. then the potentially harmful bacteria gets the upper hand and wreaks havoc on the body.

One of the most dangerous of these bacteria is clostridia. A very large percentage of autistic children have much higher amounts of clostridia present than children who are not on the spectrum. Clostridia is a group of bacterial strains, some of which that are responsible for tetanus, botulism, gangrene, colitis, and food poisoning.

These bacteria are some of the most deadly having been discovered yet. They produce neurotoxins, or "nerve poison", that is destructive to the nervous system. They effect both mature and developing nervous tissue. What is most concerning about the abundance of this type of bacteria in autistic children is that this strain has the ability to target specific neurons and disturb communication between them, even turn them off.

Exposure to neurotoxins can cause irrevocable damage to the central nervous system, such as: mental retardation, persistent memory loss, dementia, and epilepsy.

Now we are all aware that every body carries yeast. Within a healthy balance, yeast is not allowed to colonise or get out of control. In a damaged ecosystem within the gut however, yeast divides rapidly and has a negative effect on the host. We commonly see mild cases of this with women and vaginal yeast imbalances, as well as thrush which is quite common in babies.  

Yeast releases toxins into the GI tract and causes sometimes severe GI upset as well as damages the intestinal walls. This can lead to many problems like: leaky gut, food and chemical intolerance, mold sensitivity, food cravings (usually sugar and carbohydrates to feed the yeast), fatigue, depression, lack of concentration, unexplainable rashes, mood imbalances, headaches, loss of energy, and neuropathic problems.

Candida can over run a child's system sometimes to the point of needing the aid of an expellerent as well as a low sugar, yeast, and carbohydrate diet. Parents have witnessed their children during the expelling process vomit, urinate and pass through BM's alarmingly large quantities of yeast.

IAG (Indole Acryloglycine)
Autistic children, once again have a much higher level of IAG then non-autistic children. This is not good because IAG effects the membranes throughout the body and their permeability. This means that all those opiates (refer to "The Diet" post) that come from our children's food, are easily absorbed into the blood stream and carried right on up to the nervous system.

As a parent of an autistic child, this seems not fair. We and they deal with so much already, only to find out that a hostile group of invaders have taken over their little bodies. This may seem unfair, but I truly think it is the first big step to recovery. Now that we know this, the why might get answered and the possibility of being able to completely wipe out an unhealthy gut ecosystem and replace it with a healthy one seems like a future that is attainable.

In the short of it, probiotics are good. They keep all these other bacteria at normal, healthy, manageable levels. As is the case in every part of our lives, balance is key. A surprisingly heavy regimen of probiotics is essential for healthy gut flora in most autistic children. You can get combinations of different probiotics or buy separately and combine yourself. Some of the best for autistic children are:
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium infantis, and Bifidobacterium bifidum

Prebiotics should be taken with probiotics. Essentially prebiotics are the food for probiotics. They specifically encourage the growth of good bacteria and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. They give the probiotics a much better chance of recolonising in the gut, thus creating a once again healthy environment.

****For more information on specific probiotic and prebiotic types and dosage, you can find information at your local health food store.****

*****I am not a doctor. All information here is based upon my own studies and opinions. Please consult a physician before making any major changes in your child's health.*******