Probiotics are a diet supplement trend credited with magical properties ranging from weight loss to anti-aging. Several new studies however show that they very well may help to alleviate Autism symptoms as well. These studies link Autism with digestive issues which probiotics are known to help manage.
One such study from the National Institute of Heath reports that probiotics can reduce inflammation in the digestive tract that is thought to be partly responsible for some symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The study found that the balance of microorganisms in an infant’s digestive tract influences postnatal development.
Studies from the California Institute of Technology indicate that microbiomes of autistic people are differ from those without autism, which they believe contributes to the disorder. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports this theory, reporting that autistic children are more than three times more likely to suffer from chronic diarrhea or constipation. These chronic inflammatory conditions in the digestive tract are commonly attributed to a condition referred to as “leaky gut syndrome”, or intestinal permeability. The Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition reports on a study that concludes the incidence of intestinal permeability is significantly higher in patients with ASD and their first-degree relatives.
Caltech researchers injected test mice with microbes that induced leaky gut syndrome. These mice then exhibited symptoms associated with Autism such as anxiety, aloofness, and excessive grooming in addition to the expected digestive discomforts. After targeted probiotics were added to the mice’s diets, their leaky guts healed, bacterial molecule level dropped dramatically, and their microbiomes started to resemble those of healthy mice. The most exciting changes though, were in the mice’s behavior – within five weeks, they became more vocal, less anxious, and decreased their obsessive activities.
The bottom line: researchers are convinced that at the very least, probiotics will alleviate inflammation that can affect language as well as cognitive and social development. It has not yet been determined whether probiotics are more effective when taken in supplement form or in whole foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles, and kimchi. A range of 15 to 30 billion healthy microorganisms are recommended as part of a daily diet to alleviate intestinal inflammation.