As previously mentioned on this website, the Ketogenic Diet or ‘Keto Diet’ is a diet whereby the person eats high in good fats (approximately 70-75% fat), moderate in proteins (approximately 20% protein) and low in carbohydrates (about 5-10% carbs).
The purpose of the diet is to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake so the body starts to burn fat for fuel.
This means fat stored in the body can be turned into ‘ketones’ by the liver which supply energy to the brain.
This ‘diet’ – although I would hardly call it a diet, its more of a ‘lifestyle’ change – can not only help people lose weight but improve their overall health in a number of ways, including lessening epileptic seizures.
This article will focus mainly on the therapeutic values of the diet and how to help your child with autism.
Strict Keto to help a child with autism.
There are many versions of the keto diet that can be found all over the internet, however we will primarily focus on how the Strict Keto Diet works best for those suffering from symptoms caused by being on the Autism Spectrum.
The Ketogenic Diet was first developed in the 1920s by modern physicians as a means of how to help children with autism. It was developed for therapeutic reasons to mimic the metabolism of fasting. For around 20 years this therapy was widely used, but with the development of drug treatment its use was forgotten quickly.
However, in more recent years The Ketogenic diet and its nutritional benefits has once again caused great interest in the scientific community, including how it can treat those on the spectrum.
The science behind it.
It is not difficult to find many studies published online that can show how eating high-fat low-carb can improve the metabolic dysfunctions associated with ASD one such study is ‘Epilepsy in autism’ published in 2011. This is possibly due to the fact that during ketosis the number of mitochondria increase. This means more energy, or more bang for your buck.
By changing the fuel your body runs on to a superior fuel like ketones, which is what your body ran on long ago, it improves memory, cognitive function, mood and behavior.
When your body is running on sugar (glucose- units of carbs) you experience mood swings, which is especially not very beneficial for helping behavioral issues relating to autism.
When your body is running on ketones, which is when you have low levels of insulin, your body no longer experiences these ‘highs and lows’.
The reason extensive research has been done on how the Keto diet can improve symptoms is due to the fact that it is well-known in the medical community that the Keto diet showed the most promising results compared to other low carb/low glycemic diets.
The Keto diet was also acknowledged in how it can treat other neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Tips and tricks on how to get the most benefit from following a Keto Diet.
Foods to eat:
- Natural Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, full fat butter (from grass-fed cows), avocados, avocado oil, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, macadamia oil, cheese, full fat creams, any rendered animal fat, ghee.
- Fruits: small amounts of berries. (Fruit is nature’s candy), lemons and limes.
- Vegetables: (growing above ground), all green leafy vegetables, artichoke hearts, asparagus, aubergine, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, courgettes, cucumber, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, olives, onions, okra, peppers, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, shallots, spinach, spring onions, tomatoes, fermented vegetables.
- Proteins: pancetta, parma, coppa, bacon, salami, bacon, eggs, all seafood, all offal, all poultry, all meats, coconut milk, almond milk, kefir.
Foods to avoid:
- Starchy foods.
Eating Keto can be extremely nutritious and tasty, make sure and check out all the incredible keto recipes online as well as great videos, and cookbooks being sold. Keto does not mean starving yourself – quite the opposite! You get to feel full, have more energy, have improved memory and mood, sleep better and a host of more benefits.
My Journey as someone on the Autism Spectrum.
Growing up as a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it was very hard for me to get the necessary help I needed. This was mainly due to the fact that no one knew I had ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ as it was called a few years ago. I suffered a lot with mood disorders and had many meltdowns that left my parents completely powerless to help me.
As I grew up, throughout my teens, I always felt there was something ‘wrong’ with me in comparison to my peers. I kept it well hidden though, which led me to becoming severely depressed and anxious. Eventually, I was diagnosed with ASD which came as a later relief to me that all of my ‘worries’ were part of the way my brain was wired.
It was this diagnosis that led me to research how I was going to feel better in myself and present the best version of me to the world. I was determined to not led my ‘defects’ to hide light I wished to share with the world.
The Ketogenic Diet was definitely a cornerstone in helping me find my feet again. It gave me more mental clarity, improved mood( I managed to make a complete recovery from depression) and gave me more energy than I had ever felt before. I am no longer on any medication for which I believe is mainly down to being on this diet.
How to help a child with autism.
I hope I have convinced you enough that Ketogenic is the way to go. If it is your child that is suffering, a friend, a colleague or even yourself, I would encourage you to try going Ketogenic for a few months and see how they or you feel.