There have been several studies in recent years that have revealed something interesting. According to these studies, more than 50% of Autistic Spectrum Individuals suffer from gastro-intestinal problems. Often there will be digestive problems, food allergies and the like. There has been a lot of discussion about these issues, but there is no one answer for keeping these issues under control…
In 43% of Autistic Spectrum Individuals these studies found an “altered intestinal permeamility” that was not found in the Neurotypicals that were also in the study. This means that there are spaces in the intestinal tract of these Autists that do not exist in the NTs studied. This altered permeability allows microscopic particles of ingested materials to enter the blood stream. This triggers an incorrect Immunoglobulin A response in the body.
What this means is that something really technical happens that I don’t completely understand… or rather, I understand it, but not well enough to explain it to someone else… Simply put, Immunoglobulin A is part of an immune response that is important for mucus membrane health… The entire gastro-intestinal system is a mucus membrane.
Since the foods are not processed properly, the body views these particles as microbial invaders… When these invaders are detected, Immunoglobulin A (an antibody) is dispatched to the site. It deals with these errant particles and all is well… However (like with other immune responses), future responses will be more severe. When these specific particles are encountered again, the release of antibodies results in an inflammatory response in the gut. If this inflammation continues and becomes chronic, it causes the Immunoglobulin A levels in the gut to fall. This can lead to an increase in intestinal fauna which can cause more problems.
The gut is a finely balanced ecosystem, and any imbalance can be an issue. Some of the problems that can develop as a result of this are:
- an inhibition of b12 absorption – b12 is essential for metabolizing carbohydrates and fats. It is also necessary for the synthesis of proteins and the myelin sheaths on neurons.
- bacterial growth can destroy enzymes in the intestines that can further inhibit carbohydrate processing.
- Excessive microbial growth results in the fauna competing for nutrients and results in the bacterial wastes being deposited in the gut.
- Yeast can flourish, produce acid and damage the intestinal walls.
Add this stuff to the issues with stress that Autistic Spectrum Individuals tend to have and we have a a miserable person. Stress can contribute to stomach issues in the following ways:
- throat spasms
- stress can trigger “fight or flight” which can shut down digestion
- stress can cause further inflammation of gastro-intestinal tissues
- can cause over or under eating
There are alternative methods that are supposed to control this balance (specifically, carb control), but I warn against this because there are no studies on the subject that I can find.