1. USDA SR 24 Nutrient Database
This database was started in the late eighteen hundreds and is frequently updated. It contains the chemical/nutrient content of probably more than 10,000 different foods that are found in most food stores. To name a few, it contains fruits, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts, dairy products, eggs and egg products, and various species of animals like beef, pork, lamb, fish, etc. Most fast foods are included as well.
As a side note, the early studies on nutrition were first conducted on the various animals and then studied in humans. They are generally very close when comparing the composition of the different animals including humans. The organs, such as brain, heart, kidney, liver, spleen, pancreas, lungs, muscle, connective tissues, etc. provide the basis for best estimating the needs for humans. Data on the composition for humans is far more difficult to find and is less complete. Additionally, it is much easier to ascertain if animals are in fact healthy since the animals are slaughtered for food and their health status is determined by the USDA at the time of slaughter. Therefore, I rely more on the composition of animals to identify the balance of nutrients needed for good health and recommend parents do likewise. While this is but a gross comparison, it is far better than not knowing anything about the compositional needs for good brain health.
2. USDA Database for the Choline Content of Common Foods
Choline is generally viewed as a vitamin and it is critical for the proper development and function of the brain. More specifically, for the integrity of the myelin sheath that insulates the nerves to ensure transmission of signals to various parts of the body. The USDA has provided a very good summary (36 pages) in this report and lists many foods. This makes it possible for comparisons so that one can make better choices as to which foods will meet the needs for good health, especially for brain development.
These sources make it quite simple to identify the level of risk of your child developing autism due to any nutrient deficiencies. First identify the chemical composition of healthy brain tissue from among the animals. I choose to use beef brains (NDB 13319) as it appears to be more complete.
Then identify the foods in the child's diet, taking into account the amount eaten on a daily basis. The total for each nutrient can then be determined and compared to the level found in the brain or other organs of interest. The comparisons should be based upon 100 grams of brain tissue. From this comparison one can calculate where and how much adjustment is required to provide this level of completeness and balance of nutrients on a daily basis. My study of more than fifty different foods has shown that animal source foods more nearly match the composition of healthy brain tissue than other food.
There is an historic precedence set by Dr. Benjamin Spock in his book, "Baby and Child Care" published in 1946 that recommended feeding selected animal source solid foods beginning at 3-4 months of age. He continued this recommendation through 1974 or later, during which time there was a very low incidence of autism. The USDA Nutrient Database confirms the wisdom of his recommendations.
In her book, "Children with Starving Brains" Dr. McCandless (2002) reported that children with autism were found to be low or lacking up to forty various nutrients. Other findings have shown the number is more likely up to sixty different nutrients but fortunately, all of the missing nutrients are abundantly available in some of the animal source foods-the foods parents were told not to eat or feed their children for more than thirty years. Following their recommendation in the early 1960s, we have experienced an ever increasing incidence of autism.
When you look at the comparisons of what the USDA has shown healthy brain tissues contain in the Nutrient Database compared to what the recommended healthy diet contains, as recommended by the USDA and medical professionals, it should remove any doubt as to what is causing autism? There should also be no surprise that neither medications nor ABA Therapy, individually or combined, will provide adequately to overcome the nutritional deficiencies seen in children with autism.
It is also recommended that in your search for knowledgeable professionals to provide help for your autistic child, you should avoid those individuals who do not consider the importance of nutrition. Successful interventions should include ensuring that the child's diet is adequate for proper development. If their approach is simply to treat the symptoms and ignore nutrition then I recommend you seek a more knowledgeable professional. Better yet, you can easily provide an adequate diet by simply following the comparisons discussed above, before or while seeking professional help. In several instances, parents have reported that when the diet was made adequate with this procedure the need for additional help was greatly reduced or eliminated.
Note: This is not medical advice but rather advice on nutrition. If the problem is medical then I recommend you consult a medical professional.
The most critical nutrients for brain development and function include:
3. Saturated Fatty Acids
4. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
5. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
6. Omega 3
7. Omega 6*
*Quite often diets containing vegetable oils rather than animal fats will contain an excess of Omega 6 compared to that found in healthy brain tissues. This is not recommended because of this imbalance of nutrients.
**The healthy brain contains three percent cholesterol or 3 grams per 100 grams of tissue. I do not recommend this level of cholesterol in the diet because:
a. The precedent established by Dr. Benjamin Spock was about 0.4-0.6 grams of cholesterol per day from animal source foods.
b. Given that the other nutrients in the brain are adequately present in the diet, the body can produce adequate cholesterol.
c. It has been estimated that fifty percent of the cholesterol is recycled in the body.
Please note that children with autism have been reported to all fall below 160mg/dl of cholesterol in the blood and twenty percent were reported below 100mg/dl. Based upon the range of cholesterol reported for healthy humans of 115 to 395 mg/dl and for dogs 113 to 335 mg/dl, I recommend an average of 245 mg/dl which was the initial level recommended for humans. Normally, the body will make the cholesterol needed if it is not present in the diet. But I suspect the children with autism have a diet that lacks the building materials for cholesterol and this is the reason they have been found to be lacking this critical nutrient.
If these nutrients in the diet approximate the levels found in brain tissues, it is likely that the remaining needs will have been met except for some vitamins and minerals. This can easily be provided with a simple vitamin/mineral supplement that provides about 100% of the daily values. I do not recommend mega doses as this supplement is more to provide some insurance that the needs are being met.
This simple early identification of the risk factors for autism can be completed by the parents. The screening relates to environmental and dietary practices for the newborn child and can be completed in the early months of life well before symptoms appear. This will allow time for early intervention to eliminate any risks found thus reducing the risk that the child will later develop the symptoms of autism. While there is evidence that some symptoms are reversible, it is far better for the child if we eliminate the risks early. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" very aptly applies here.
Harold Rongey, Ph.D. email: email@example.com Phone: 858-740-7272 or his web site at http://www.whostolemyfood.com