Q: How important is it to consider a food intolerance test when working with a child who has autism or ADHD?
A: There are clearly multiple influences on attention-deficit and hyperactivity (ADHD) and autistic spectrum disorders, including genetic, environmental and dietary factors. Many think the main food culprits to be additives such as colourings and preservatives. However, although children with ADHD / Autism can show improvement on additive-free diets, better results are gained by using more comprehensive dietary changes. In a controlled trial of 76 children, published in the Lancet, although artificial colours and preservatives were the most common (and most instant) provoking substances, not one child was affected by additives alone. This trial concluded that the influence of diet on behavioural disorders in children is critical, and that it is the combination of different foods, and not individual foods or additives, that alter behaviour.
Gut disturbances in those with autism are widely reported. Many autistic children suffer from leaky gut, which means that undigested proteins enter the bloodstream and cause the body to react (identified by measuring food-specific antibodies in the blood stream). Supporting this, a recent study showed higher levels of food-specific IgG antibodies in persons with autistic disorders compared to their siblings. In addition, IgG antibodies to foods such as wheat can cross-react directly with proteins in the brain, and these antibodies are raised in autism.
The challenge with dietary modification is that first you need to know what to change. This can be done using a long trial and error process where first one thing then another is removed from the diet; like trying to drive from Cork to Donegal without a map and without knowing the route! Another option is a ‘few foods’ diet whereby only limited foods are eaten; this approach can achieve good results but is not considered practical by parent groups, and certainly isn’t advisable long-term.
Targeted elimination diets, based on food-specific IgG levels, offer the ‘route map’ needed. One person who has had experience of this process is five year old Michael’s Mum. Michael was so hyperactive that he was only allowed to go to school on a part-time basis. He could not concentrate, was disruptive in class and didn’t socialise with other children. After Michael took the YorkTest foodSCAN test, Michael’s Mum discovered that his body was reacting to carrots, kiwi fruit, garlic and pork. Under the guidance of a nutritionist, Michael followed the elimination diet. The staff at Michael’s school cannot believe the difference. He now calmly sits and reads books and attends school full-time.
Delayed food allergies in children with ADHD / Autism are unique to each child, and it is clear that a targeted elimination diet based on the measurement of food-specific IgG antibodies can be of help.
Q: As a professional Acupuncturist, I treat all sorts of health problems including migraines, chronic fatigue and gut dysfunction, and because I focus on treating the person rather than the disease, I also consider whether food intolerance or other factors could be contributing to my patients’ conditions. On occasions, I would like to recommend certain tests and utilise the expertise of a qualified Nutritionist, but I struggle with how this would work for me, my patient and my business. Can you help?
A: I regularly visit colleges and lecture to those studying complementary medicine about ‘What makes a good diagnostic test’. It is this sort of question that I hear more and more often now as our future Complementary Practitioners (and Nutritionists) are becoming more and more business ‘savvy’.
What I am hearing is that Complementary Practitioners want access to tests for factors such as food intolerance, liver function and homocysteine that are accessible and easy to use, with no upfront payment commitment, generous commission and access to support from a Nutritionist.
YorkTest has launched a new package for Complementary Practitioners that includes all of these factors. Blood samples can easily be collected in practice, or in the comfort of the client’s own home.
The future for small businesses such as yours is looking brighter!
Dr Gill Hart is a PhD Biochemist with over 20 years of expertise in the development of scientifically validated diagnostic tests. Gill has been at the forefront of campaigning for improved regulation within the diagnostic testing industry. If you have a question for Dr Gill, email firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured in a future issue.