Friday, May 14, 2010

My Autistic Son Loves Probiotics

My son is seventeen and autistic. Until VERY recently he would never eat fruit or vegetables. He would hold, squeeze and smell them. On rare occasions they would even get as far as his lips but that was as far as it would go.

He was also on a gluten and casein free diet because of his inability to break down the proteins in wheat and dairy products. Then I discovered probiotics.

Probiotics comes from the Greek "for life" and these days the word is associated with the use of friendly living bacteria to prevent or treat clinical disorders.

According to the renowned Bacteriologist, Professor Ilya Mechnikov "death begins in the colon", and it is the good bacteria's role to ensure it stays healthy.

Bacteria are the first line of defence of the immune system. A proper balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract is vital for maintaining good health. The ratio of good (probiotic) to bad (pathogenic) should be 85:15. For most people it is the other way round.

In a healthy colon there are between 100 billion and 100 trillion beneficial bacteria per millilitre and these consume the harmful bacteria. My son's very poor diet supplemented by manufactured vitamins reduced that amount considerably.

Beneficial bacteria are responsible for

Providing essential enzymes to make nutrients available to the body, Cleaning up cholesterol, Manufacturing B vitamins, Cleaning out the lower bowels of encrusted matter, Destroying bad bacteria and Eliminating toxins from the body

If you spread your intestinal tract out flat it would cover half a tennis court and many researchers believe many chronic degenerative diseases are caused by the lack of friendly bacteria inside it. The gut is also considered by some to be the second brain.

We have more than 400 different species of bacteria inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract between our mouth and our anus. Provided they are well fed and looked after they keep us healthy.

Bacteria have no teeth. They produce enzymes which identify, digest and deliver nutrients to where they need to go. As enzymes are responsible for every metabolic process in your body you can well understand why probiotics are so essential.

When there are not enough probiotic bacteria to produce the enzymes you get health problems. If you are healthy the probiotics will never allow the pathogens to colonise but as we are constantly exposed to billions and billions of potentially harmful microorganisms on a daily basis that's rarely the case.

There are many factors which upset the bacteria balance besides food. These anti-probiotics include

Antibiotics, Birth control pills, Steroids/ Hormonal drugs Fluoride Chlorine Coffee/Tea Carbonated drinks Man made vitamins Synthetic ascorbic acid Radiation Stress Preservative Additives Pesticides Fertlisers

There is power in numbers and if you want to be healthy you need to make sure your probiotic bacteria can overpower the pathogenic ones.

You will find many probiotic products in your supermarkets but not all probiotics are made equal. Some only contain a few strains of healthy bacteria and that's not a good thing. Yogurt containing probiotics is popular with many but often it only contains acidophilus. However, many yogurts are pasteurised AFTER they've had the bacteria culture added (to increase shelf life) which totally destroys any benefit.

When you choose a probiotic you need to make sure the beneficial bacteria is 'live' so it continues to colonise. Often formulas will state it contains a certain amount of live organisms at the "time of manufacture".

The problem with that is the levels in most formulas start to die off immediately and heat and moisture speed up the process. That's why it's usually recommended probiotics be kept in a cool, dry place like the refrigerator.

Another important factor when choosing probiotics is to ensure that the formula contains not only the beneficial bacteria but the medium in which the culture was grown. This is called the supernatant and will contain vitamins, enzymes, anti-oxidants and immune stimulators.

The lactobacillii family exist in nature. They are found in fruits, berries, etc., and without them we would not exist. They live together in harmony and work as a team so if you can find all of them together in a probiotic, together with their food source you get a super probiotic.

You see bacteria have a voracious appetite and if they don't have their own food they'll compete for what's available. It's a question of survival of the strongest and you don't want beneficial bacteria fighting each other instead of concentrating on the bad guys.

The transit time for food in the body is approximately 72 hours but it only actually has about 11 to 12 hours in the stomach. It's been estimated that most people only absorb 20% before the nutrients are gone as they have too many bad bacteria clogging up the lining. It's important therefore for the bacteria to make the nutrients available as soon as possible.

My son had a gluten intolerence and found digesting protein in wheat very difficult. However, now I've found the right probiotic it no longer appears to be a problem. He never ate foods which were good for him but now at age seventeen he is finally eating fruit and vegetables.

Yes, my autistic son loves probiotics and I am extremely grateful to friendly bacteria!

For information on the World's First Probiotic Super Food certified Organic to Food Grade Standards see

Jean Shaw is the author of I'm Not Naughty - I'm Autistic - Jodi's Journey and Autism, Amalgam and Me - Jodi's Journey Continues see

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