This article will not be graciously accepted by all. This I know in advance. I've communicated with many parents with Autistic children and, sadly to say, to this very day I have not been able to identify even one set of parents that aggressively changed their child's diet, much less their own.
Oh for sure they talk about it, and for sure they've changed some aspects of their diet, but in fact they either ignore the diet entirely or their changes do not go nearly far enough. When I press these concerned parents to change completely, it usually results in apathy, denial, and/or anger.
Why is Autism called an epidemic these days? In my word processor dictionary epidemic is defined as: 1) a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. 2) a sudden, widespread occurrence of something undesirable.
For sure Autism fits the second definition. But if it's not contagious, if it's not caused by virus infected bug bites, if it's not some sort of bacteria spread by whatever means, then why is it an epidemic? Or more directly, what causes Autism?
Most of the blame for Autism centers around a popular list of causes. The list below is in no particular order: Genetics, viral infections, maternal stress, maternal exposure to lead and mercury, increased maternal participation in the work force, vaccinations, environmental toxins, lack of glutathione, yeast, foods containing genetically modified organisms, hiatal hernia, type A milk protein, and the list goes on.
I contend that none of the popular "causes" are actually causes. When I review the many articles about autism, guess which topic is usually left out. Right, it seems nobody points to the overall chemical composition of the foods people eat as being the cause. It's always other conditions like those in the list above. Maybe there is a psychological reason for this. Instead of placing the blame on our food choices, blaming vaccinations, GMO foods, environmental toxins, etc. is a way to blame others. This is convenient and comforting because parents do not want to believe their food choices could be responsible for any disease – much less autism. In the list of popular causes, there's not one case where one could have known in advance what to avoid in order to make sure their child would not become a victim of autism.
In actual fact though, I can say nearly the same thing about every other chronic disease. Yes, some foods are blamed for contributing to some chronic diseases, but universally it seems everything under the sun except food is thought to be THE cause for whatever chronic disease that strikes. Oddly enough, all too often when food is to blame people point to Big Business, advertising, sinister processing methodology, fast food, too much fat, gluten, not enough whole grains, modern farming methods, poor soils, etc., etc. They do not want to blame their own decisions on what they alone decide to eat as being the sole cause of their plight. If they do, it makes them feel bad. So blaming others is easier. Unfortunately that impedes change instead of encourages change in what may be far and away the most important issue we all need to address in dealing with chronic diseases -- including Autism.
In other words, I contend that if people always ate a proper diet from conception until the birth of their child, and then fed their child correctly after he was born, autism would not exist except marginally. It would certainly not be an epidemic. And that would also be true for ALL other chronic diseases. All of them. So let's examine my theory.
Food is the Cause
Research does not unequivocally support the many various theories that agricultural chemicals, genetics, vaccinations, food borne pathogens, GMO foods, working mothers, stress, viral infections, environmental toxins (second hand smoke, car exhaust, pollen, air pollution, chemicals in water, etc.), maternal stress, maternal exposure to lead and mercury, lack of glutathione, yeast, hiatal hernia, and type A milk protein cause autism. Yet for a fact those conditions can be shown to be associated with autism. But is the association the cause or an effect or is it merely coincidental? That question brings me around once again to the main question, "What is the cause?"
Far and away the greatest chemical input our bodies receive is from the chemicals inherently in our foods. That is an unequivocal fact. When nutrients are deficient and/or overdosed, bodies can fail and not all bodies fail the same way. That is a known fact.
Now, can you name the one and only single condition that is common for all Americans – bar none? For sure it will not be any of the popular conditions listed above for causing Autism. Right, the condition most common to all that's usually excluded is food. All Americans eat the same basic food stuffs. That is the one and only universal condition. And again, what I'm about to say about Autism and food will apply to all other chronic diseases (every chronic disease is a body failure). I contend that if people ate a proper diet, the incidences of all chronic diseases (body failure) would plunge 95% – including Autism. Since Autistic children usually have one or more chronic diseases, my theory on diet is doubly important.
40 Years of Scientific Evidence
For the past forty years leading edge nutritional scientists have been writing peer-reviewed scientific reports (and even many books on the topic) underscoring the important role Omega-3 fatty acids have on brain and body function. (Visit our Science Links page. Nearly all of the reports conclude that body function fails when Omega-3 fats are deficient and body function improves when they are present at appropriate levels. It is imperative that readers understand that the Omega-3 deficiency is defined by the ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s in the membranes of cells. The appropriate ratio is one to one. Most Americans have 20 times the quantity of Omega 6s to Omega-3s. Alarmingly the deficiency can be detected in laboratory experiments with rats when Omega-6s are four times more abundant than Omega-3s because chronic diseases start occurring in their little bodies. Also, their brain functions noticeably decline!
Many of the scientific reports address the reason why omega-3 fatty acids have nearly disappeared from the American diet. Most report it started with man's invention of grain farming 10,000 years ago and progressed with advancements in raising crops generally. As grain farming techniques improved, scientists can trace a steady decline in the overall diet of not only the quantity of Omega-3 fatty acids but also many other nutrients that used to be universal in the diet of man. They can also trace a steady increase in Omega-6 fats, trans fats, saturated fats, total fats, and other "nutrients" that never were in man's diet at levels like they are today. Then they point to the long-term coincidental increase in the incidences of chronic diseases of all kinds.
In long-term studies regarding the decline of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet and corresponding increasing rates of body failure, both trends clearly accelerated commencing around the end of World War II. Increased mechanization, technological advancements in all aspects of crop production, improved farming practices, and government's (the people's) strategic policies to protect and promote our grain-based food system have made grain ever more inexpensive and plentiful. Consequently, never before has our nation's food system consisted of grain, grain-based foods, grain-fed livestock products, and high glycemic foods at such high levels as are commonplace today. (See out Food Analysis page for the data.)
Consequences of the Omega-3 Deficiency
In study after study comparing various levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in animal bodies (people are animals too) it has become clear that Omega-3 deficiencies result in body failures of all kinds. For just one example out of hundreds of different examples, a couple decades ago the Omega-3 deficiency was definitely fingered as a cause for compromising the immune system. That means the immune system reacts abnormally and can cause big problems in a body as it responds to perfectly normal things while being ineffective in protecting the body from actual threats. Hay fever is a failed immune system response to pollen. Asthma may be a failed immune system response to air pollution, stress, animal hair, etc. Pollen is 100% natural and organic and something no animal body should react to negatively if it had a normal immune system. The same can be said for animal hair, stress, and maybe even air pollution.
You're right, not everyone with a damaged immune system caused by a deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids exhibits symptoms of hay fever or asthma. So it's easy to get confused as to what causes what. So I'll remind you that the Omega-3 deficiency is associated with all body failures (chronic diseases). Furthermore, there is no way to tell how that deficiency will manifest itself from one person to another.
In that light, consider this theory; a vaccination, which works in conjunction with the immune system, can backfire and cause other problems in a weakened body, not because of the vaccination itself, but because the immune system has already been gravely compromised. With that I can theorize that the vaccination acted as a catalyst for Autism only because other abnormal conditions existed. Therefore it was not the vaccine nor the immune system's fault, it was a faulty diet that created the problem to begin with. That's my theory. Until it's examined under the scrutiny of scientific study, it's only a theory. Yet it may be right on target because; 1) it follows logically, 2) there is considerable scientific evidence pointing in that direction, 3) the diet is one of a very few universal conditions for all Americans, and 4) a large percentage of Americans suffer from compromised immune systems due to the Omega-3 deficiency.
Today, the myth that vaccinations cause autism is being widely recognized for what it is: an absolute myth. Even liberal commentators acknowledge that the concerns are unfounded as one sees in this oped.
A Review of the American Diet
As the American food system became more grain-based over the past 60 years, the prevalence of mental and physical health problems soared. Today we have epidemics in diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, gut issues, asthma, allergies, a whole host of different mental disorders of which autism is only one, and the list of ailments seems endless. None of these health issues were considered epidemics 60 years ago, but today they are all called epidemics. What changed? By far the biggest change has been the chemical composition of the majority of foods consumed on a daily basis.
What was that change? Grain and other omega-3 deficient foods have become an ever larger share of the American diet. That is the one and only universal change all Americans have shared. Sixty years ago vaccinations were commonplace, agricultural chemicals were definitely dangerous unlike today, air pollution was worse, water quality was worse, and organic foods were unheard of. Yet 60 years ago the percentage of people with chronic diseases was much less than today. That means the frequency of autism has grown just like the incidences of all other chronic diseases. To me that substantiates the prospect of there being only one universal cause that is primarily responsible. Not many, but one.
For the past 40 years research keeps pointing to the omega-3 deficiency over and over again. Consequently, until that is addressed and corrected, we can't tell what else may be causing problems. That's because all other suspected causes may depend on the omega-3 deficiency to be in place before they can be a catalyst for health issues.
Getting Omega-3 Right
Getting the diet right is where most Americans fail. One reason is that most of the advice about diet tries to merely rearrange the balance of traditional foods and/or use supplements, drugs, and/or operations to make the diet right. Other reasons include the universal ignorance exhibited by nearly all of the professionals in the medical community, the media that regurgitates common knowledge, adherence to tradition and tastes, a refusal to change, and apathy.
So is it complicated? No, The Real Diet of Man is very simple. Basically, scientists have determined that the foods of man prior to the invention of grain farming had the green leaf as its foundation. The green leaf came first and then animals were created that either ate other animals and/or ate the green leaf. Consequently for all of time the nutrient needs of animals could be traced to a green leaf at the bottom of the food chain.
This is critically important knowledge. That's because the balance of Essential Fatty Acid families (omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids) always came fixed in a certain ratio by weight from the green leaf. "Essential" nutrients are required nutrients the body cannot make, so bodies must derive them from food. For all of time animals never had to make essential fats and they couldn't get the ratio wrong because the essential fats were always present in the other animals and/or in the green leaves they ate. Based on many scientific observations we know that the natural balance of the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) in the membranes of all cells centers around one to one by weight. It is critical that you understand it is the "even balance" between the EFAs that is so important, not just a quantity of one or the other or simply a ratio. Grains (the seeds of grass plants) differ significantly in their chemical composition compared to green leaves. There are many differences and a big one is the balance of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids – the two primary families of EFAs. Grasses have ratios that favor Omega-3. Depending on which grain the weight of Omega-6 fats can be from 10 to 30 times greater than the Omega-3 fats.
I can not over emphasize this fact. Long ago scientists proved that chronic diseases develop and are detectible when skewed fatty acid balances exceed four to one; omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. This is scary because today the average American's ratio is believed to be somewhere between 20 to one and 30 to one. That statistic alone virtually guarantees universal body failures (chronic diseases) of one kind or another, which is why so many different afflictions are now called epidemics.
A partial list of additional foods with horrible Omega-3 deficits that contribute to an omega-3 deficiency include nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), fruits (avocados, figs, olives), most gluten free foods, vegetables (sweet corn, parsley, carrots), nearly all cooking oils, legumes (soybeans, peanuts), and all grain-fed livestock products (chicken, pork, beef, all dairy, and eggs). In addition you can add all processed foods containing grain (including corn, soybeans, rice), pasta, pastries, breads, and cereals of all kinds. For more information on foods I urge you to visit out Food Analysis page.
Are you starting to get the idea? To eat an ancestral diet, one has to eat a primitive diet. And the nutritional scientists who have analyzed the diet of man prior to the invention of agriculture are convinced it provides exactly 100% of man's nutrient needs in perfect balance. Consequently the human body is expecting no more or no less from its food.
Before I outline the diet of man, which is perfect for optimizing body function and for preventing and quite often even curing chronic disease, I must add one more factor: high glycemic foods. High glycemic foods convert to sugar rapidly and the "caveman" did not have access to those foods except in rare cases such as robbing honey from a bee's nest. All high glycemic foods, such as all grains (rice), some fruits (raisins and pineapples), common vegetables such as potatoes and some squash, some beans, all cereals (yes, oatmeal), are literally disasters for animal bodies. All high glycemic foods should be avoided – always.
So what can man eat for optimal health? Top of the list is grass-fed livestock and wild-caught seafood. Grass-fed meats are the best because they contain 100% of the nutrient needs, including EFAs, in perfect balance just like that which the human body requires for optimal function. For that reason grass-fed meats is the only food group a human can eat exclusive of all other food groups and still end up with optimal health. Secondly, green leafy vegetables and other selected vegetables with proper EFA balances are great for optimizing one's health. Third on the list are fruits and nuts and they should be consumed very sparingly because they were seasonal and scarce. Lastly, man rarely dug up foods to eat. The next time you take a walk in the wild outdoors, look around. What you see is what early man ate.
Can You Make the Change?
Very few Americans have the courage, the persistence, or even the desire to convert to the ancestral diet. Most of them want to eat traditional foods and maintain the typical social connections surrounding food and their families and friends. Plus, they do not want to go to the trouble to train their children to different tastes and different foods. So all of those people will remain stuck in the grain-based food system and they will continue to grapple with chronic diseases one after another.
But there are some people who can stand apart from the crowd. They can accept the notion that diet controls the health of the body and only they are responsible for what they eat. And if they decide to spend money on unhealthy foods, they cannot blame others for the consequences of their actions, they can only blame themselves. Where are you in this spectrum? How difficult is it to try and see if The Real Diet of Man actually works for you and your children?
While Autism may not be completely reversed by a diet change, many of the symptoms will subside as the brain heals with real food. In addition, usually children with Autism have additional chronic diseases and a change in diet can subdue and in many cases actually cure those afflictions. Changing the nutrient stream to perfectly match the nutrient needs of man is not something one addresses with prescription drugs and supplements (even omega-3 supplements) because with those solutions there can be unknown consequences. Proper food is the only answer.
Before I close, I want to emphasize one more thing. Do not get caught in the gluten-free food trap. Most gluten-free foods have horrible fatty acid balances, high glycemic loads, and other major league nutritional deficiencies that will cause chronic diseases. Nearly all of the gluten-free foods I have analyzed are very damaging to autistic children. It is man's deviation from sourcing his nutrient needs away from a green leaf at the bottom of the food chain that is causing chronic disease. Sourcing the nutrient stream back to a green leaf is the only solution. Rearranging the selection of grains in the diet and adding high glycemic "treats" is not the answer.
Everyone I know who has corrected back to having the green leaf at the bottom of the food chain has experienced improvements in their body function and overall health. That is a great record of success. Now, in a few months I would like to hear back from some parents of Autistic children with stories about how they made a complete, 100% change to the Diet of Man. Then let's see what kind of stories they tell.
That's the first step toward changing theories into facts.
For additional study please check out these Internet links:
January 20, 2011