What Are Biomedical Diets For Autistic Children?

When a child has been diagnosed with autism, there should ideally be a treatment team of a doctor, an ABA therapist, and any additional professionals the child needs, such as a physical, vocational, or speech therapist, registered dietitian, or psychologist.

Autism can be treated differently, and since each child has their own set of problems, the treatment method will depend on the child. Not every child with autism requires occupational therapy, just as not every child with autism requires a dietician.

A biomedical diet is an alternative for kids seeing a dietician or GI doctor or whose parents want to try something new to add to the current treatment plan. But it should only be started with the help and knowledge of a doctor. Most people utilize the term biomedical diet to refer to interventions meant to stop or at least lessen the effects of biomedical problems.

What biomedical treatments are, and what their goals are

A lot of people with autism have digestive (GI) problems, like being constipated or having diarrhea all the time. Researchers are learning more and more about how these children’s fragile guts work and how problems with certain GI functions play a role in the GI symptoms that come with ASD.

This understanding of how things work spreads to the relationship between diet and ASD, including how the structure of food and the ability to digest proteins can make autistic symptoms worse. Children with ASD who also have gut problems have low digestive enzymatic activity, a damaged gut barrier, and blood antibodies specific to dietary proteins. For GI distress, it is possible to give a child medicine.

Still, many parents and doctors would much rather start taking a more holistic approach and look at how the child’s environment is affecting their body and causing symptoms. The main goal of treatment options for children with autism is to use food, nutrition, and dietary supplements to quell severe symptoms and innately regulate the GI tract.

Biomedical Diets: Some Examples

Common biomedical dietary habits for autism leave out or add certain food groups or supplements to achieve a health goal, like reducing inflammation.

  • The gluten-free/casein-free (GF/CF) diet is well-known in autism. Even people who don’t have autism like to eat foods without gluten and casein because it’s good for their health. Gluten is a protein that comes from wheat, and casein is a protein that comes from dairy. Both have been known to cause swelling and stomach problems. The Autism Research Institute says that a gluten-free and casein-free (GF/CF) diet has helped 69% of children with autism. The GF/CF diet is one of many diets, and it is important to build a foundation, improve digestion and absorption, and heal a leaky gut. Even though there hasn’t been a lot of research yet, many cases show that diet makes people behave better.
  • Some children with autism are less hyperactive when they get Omega-3 from fatty fish, eggs, soybeans, tofu, walnuts, and flaxseeds or a supplement. However, more clinical trials need to be done to prove a link.
  • The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SDC) means not eating starches and sugars like table sugar, maple syrup, rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, certain beans, rice milk, and cornstarch. Unlike other special diets, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet works by eliminating foods that can’t be broken down well. With this dietary approach, the vicious cycle of poor absorption, poor digestion, inflammatory, and food allergies seen in children with autism can be broken, and healthy digestion can start.
  • The Feingold Diet is another special plan for people with autism that takes chemicals and additives out of their diet. One of the most important things that Feingold’s followers have done is realize that the diet has helped with other problems, like behavior problems, self-stimulation (stimming), focus, concentration, eye contact, and so on.
  • A probiotic diet aims to grow several good bacteria and yeast in the body and keep the gut flora healthy.
  • Probiotic bacterial cultures aim to help the body’s natural flora in the digestive tract get back to normal. This may help children on the autism spectrum who have problems with their tummies.

It’s important to remember that biomedical diets aren’t meant to cure autism. Instead, they are meant to help with physical symptoms and stop unwanted or bad behaviors. Numerous other diets have been shown to help lessen some of the bad things that happen with autism.

Dieticians and doctors should be in charge of changing a child’s diet because leaving out or adding nutrients can be harmful if it’s not on a doctor’s advice and isn’t closely watched. Even though changing your diet can be helpful, some people in the autism community don’t believe that biomedicine diets work.

This area needs much more research, including trials showing a stronger link between the diet and the action goal. But a kid on a biomedical diet and other forms of treatment, like ABA therapy, speech therapy, social skills organizations, and so on, may see better results than if they were just put on a diet by themselves and not given any other help.