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Healing the Gut Naturally and What this Could Mean for Those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Parents of children with autism can often recount many courses of antibiotics that were prescribed to their children while they were very young. When the antibiotics weren't successful, another round was prescribed, resulting in a very high antibiotic usage in the child's early years. While antibiotics will kill the bacteria that cause ear and other infections, they can also destroy the beneficial bacteria population in the gut, leading to a severe gut flora imbalance that can allow harmful bacteria, such as Candida yeast, to thrive.

As many as 500 different species of gut flora exist in the colon at a given time, working together in a delicate balance that scientists are only beginning to understand. When this balance is thrown off by antibiotic usage or other issues, harmful, and even toxic, bacteria can take over.

When these bacteria, such as Candida, are allowed to thrive in the gut, they can produce toxic effects, leading to symptoms like:

• Fatigue
• Depression
• Inability to concentrate
• Headaches
• Food cravings
• Vitamin deficiencies
• Food intolerances
• Chemical intolerances
• Neuropathic problems
• Mold sensitivity

In many cases, restoring the balance of gut flora can provide relief from these symptoms, including those symptoms associated with autism.

How to Recolonize Beneficial Gut Bacteria

Yogurt is often suggested as a way to increase beneficial gut bacteria, but by the time symptoms of imbalance appear, the small amount of beneficial bacteria found in yogurt is not enough to combat the harmful bacteria that have begun to thrive. Larger amounts of probiotics are necessary to restore the balance, particularly lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, two of the most important beneficial bacteria for digestive health.

Supplementing with probiotics alone can help, but a more successful treatment is to combine probiotic treatment with prebiotic treatment. Prebiotics are considered to be a health booster for probiotics, and are thought to selectively improve the health of specific beneficial bacteria, while also helping to hinder the growth of harmful bacteria.

Treating the cause of gut flora imbalance can lead to improvements in health and behavior, helping to alleviate severe symptoms and restore overall digestive health.

References

Bingham, Max & Gibson, Glenn. A Gut Feeling about Autism? Bedrok & Autism, 2012.