What is autism?
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by communication and behavioral challenges. There are three distinguishing features of autism: repetitive behaviors/patterns, impaired communication (verbal and/or non-verbal), and difficulty understanding/reciprocating social interaction and behaviors. It is widely accepted that there are three forms of autism: Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Furthermore, autism can be further divided into either idiopathic (cause is unknown) or secondary (caused by a genetic condition or environmental agent). While there is no known cure for autism, personalized treatments are available. These treatments do not tackle the cause, but rather lessen symptoms and therefore may include antipsychotic medications (to manage behavioral symptoms), therapy and support groups (both individual and familial), and dietary changes. Medications may be used to treat secondary conditions associated with autism, such as epilepsy, sleep difficulties, anxiety, OCD, depression, GI problems, ADHD, ADD, and more.
What are the benefits of a ketogenic diet for autism?
Although the exact etiology of autism is unknown, research has revealed potentially causative biochemical changes. Autism has been linked to mitochondrial and neurometabolic dysfunctions, as well as epilepsy-related diseases. Since the ketogenic diet has many metabolic benefits, including increased mitochondrial biogenesis, and is a common treatment for epilepsy, research supports its therapeutic usage for autism. Studies have shown that children following a ketogenic diet may score better on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, improving in social and cognitive skills, concentration and learning, as well as neurological functioning and seizure activity. Moreover, because GI disturbances are a comorbidity of autism, microbiome changes, specifically decrease in bacterial diversity and inflammation, have been implicated. This further promotes the therapeutic use of a ketogenic diet since it has been shown to reduce inflammation and abnormalities in the gut microbiota.
Natasha Cornin and Son
After implementing Keto to her daily lifestyle, Natasha found her self continuing to lose pound after pound in her first few months on keto. It wasn’t until after her autistic son began to have seizures that she discovered the plethora of different benefits keto has aside from just weight loss. She wasn’t aware that keto and her son’s neurological disorders would intersect in such a remedial and therapeutic way. The more she learned, the more promising and confident she felt about her son eating a ketogenic diet to help reduce the symptoms and challenges associated both his epilepsy and autism.