Does Harvard's Research on the “2nd Brain” Suggest a New and Effective Way To Ease the Symptoms of Autism/ADHD?
By Loving Autism - April 2, 2022
There’s been a tidal wave of research pouring in from the likes of Harvard and Johns Hopkins Medicine revealing the quickest and most effective way to ease the symptoms of Autism/ADHD may be through, what they’re calling, “the 2nd brain”… aka the “Gut.”
In Fact, recently, a review of over 150 papers on ASD and gut bacteria found scientists have been reporting links between bacteria in the gut and autistic behavior since 1960.
The review highlights several studies showing that restoring a healthy balance in gut bacteria can ease the symptoms of ASD.
Here are 3 reasons why…(In easy-to-understand English)
1. The Gut-Brain Axis
To begin to understand the mechanics of the research and why thousands of parents are already implementing strategies based on the studies…and seeing dramatic results…
It’s important to start with the dynamic communication between the gut and the brain.
Let me explain…
Have you ever felt nauseous before giving a speech?
Ever had a “gut feeling” not to do something?
Butterflies in your stomach when you get nervous?
How about experiencing your mood change when you devour the leftover mac n’ cheese?...(There’s a reason they call it “comfort food”).
That’s because there’s a direct line of communication from your gut to your brain…
Your gut speaks to your brain (and vice versa).
The area in your gut responsible for communicating is known as your Enteric Nervous System (EDS).
The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results.
Jay Pasricha, M.D., Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology
In fact, the area of your brain that your gut communicates most with is responsible for…
✅ Mental Health
✅ Human Connection
…and a host of other variables affected by ASD.
Interestingly enough, over 70% of people with Autism/ADHD also have gastro problems and issues related to their gut.
…many children with Autism have abnormal communities of digestive bacteria in their intestines. And some of these studies have associated specific types of gut bacteria with more-severe Autism symptoms.
Paul Wang, M.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Medical Research at Autism Speaks
2. Imbalance Of Good And Bad Bacteria Causing A “Leaky Gut”
There’s been several studies conducted which have shown the majority of people with ASD have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria.
Specifically, more bad bacteria than good bacteria.
Our initial work found major differences in the gut bacteria of children with Autism compared to typical children, and our subsequent work has confirmed those findings. Children with Autism seem to be missing hundreds of beneficial gut bacteria.
Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Ph.D., ASU Autism/Aspergers Research Program
The excess “bad bacteria” inevitably leads to the over-production of toxins which weakens the lining of the intestine, making it permeable…which leads to what’s known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a term used to describe “Hyperpermeable Intestines” which simply means the intestinal lining (your guts' filter) has holes in it, allowing toxins, yeast, undigested food, and other dangerous pathogens into your bloodstream.
Once the toxins, particles, and pathogens get into your bloodstream, it triggers the immune system to feel stress and danger.
As a response, the body goes into defense mode and becomes inflamed.
Which in turn puts pressure on the brain that intensifies (or creates) behaviors of ASD.
Does that make sense?
If not, read this section one more time…
If there’s nothing else you get from this,
If Autism/ADHD is a Fire … INFLAMMATION is Gasoline.
That question takes us to Reason #3.
3. Chronic Inflammation
One Arizona State University study revealed the results of chronic inflammation (long-term inflammation)… and the parallels to behaviors of ASD is shocking.
Here’s what they found happened with inflammation…
Cell death in the brain and reduced brain cell formation. In other words, brain cells were dying, and fewer brain cells formed.
Reducing the response and release of Oxytocin - Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for social interaction, love, human connection, etc.
Movement and coordination issues
Do those results and symptoms sound familiar?
Here the kicker…
In the same study,
When they introduced PROBIOTICS (good healthy bacteria) and a non-inflammatory diet to the test subjects,
Inflammation went down, and virtually all the behaviors and symptoms improved dramatically, and in some cases even went away.
This is why it’s critical to…
Reduce the inflammation inside of people with Autism/ADHD.
Avoid behavior and habits that cause inflammation.
1. Your Gut directly communicates with your brain – if you have an unhealthy Gut, you’ll have an unhealthy brain.
2. The majority of people with ASD have a bacteria imbalance in their gut which leads to toxins and pathogens entering their bloodstream. This creates a chronic inflammatory response inside the body.
3. Inflammation puts pressure on the brain and intensifies (or creates) behaviors of ASD.
“Ok, I get it…so what can I do for my child?”
The easiest answer to help children with Autism/ADHD…
Heal The Gut And Reduce Inflammation!
But Where Do You Start?
There are several specific adjustments that can and should be made to the daily nutrition of the person with ASD.
But it’s not completely mandatory…
One of the easiest and simplest ways to heal the gut and reduce inflammation is to take a probiotic on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, not all probiotics are created equally.
There are specific ingredients and dosages that we found to be most effective and maximize results for children with Autism/ADHD.
To help improve sociability of a person with Autism/ADHD, the probiotic must contain a healthy bacteria strain called "Lactobacillus Reuteri or L-Reuteri."
Where Can I Get Quality Probiotics?
These days you can find a probiotic at any local mini-mart.
But beware of their safety, quality, and effectiveness.
It seems like every vitamin company has quickly thrown a few cheap ingredients together and magically ... a “probiotic” appears on their list of products.
Just because there’s technically beef on a Big Mac, doesn’t mean it’s the same as the prime rib at a steakhouse.
The fact is,
There is a special blend of unique ingredients that must be combined to effectively help children with Autism/ADHD.
Top 5 Things to Look for When Shopping for Probiotics…
There are 5 components to consider when determining whether you're looking at a McDonalds' probiotic, or a ‘fancy steakhouse’ probiotic designed specifically for children with Autism/ADHD.
1. Strain Diversity and Strength
Most probiotics contain 3 strains and 5 billion CFU’s (Colony-Forming Units).
Children with Autism/ADHD need a stronger and more diverse probiotic. Look for one with at least 10 strains and 10 billion CFU’s.
2. Look for a Probiotic that Contains a Strain Known as "L Reuteri"
This is a vital ingredient for children with Autism/ADHD. In a recent study, researchers found that by feeding the probiotic Lactobacillus Reuteri to mice with autism-like behaviors, improved their sociability while increasing the number of oxytocin-producing neurons (a hormone associated with social behavior) in their brains.
It also improved signs of brain plasticity – the brain’s ability to form new connections that foster learning.
3. Easy to Consume
The probiotic can only work if the child consistently takes it on a daily basis. Look for the option of a flavorless powder that can be mixed into juice or smoothies so that your child can drink it and not even know it.
4. Research Shows that Healing the Lining of the Gut is Extremely Important in Reducing Inflammation. Most Probiotics Only Contain Strains of Good Bacteria, and Some May Even Have Prebiotics
Be sure that the probiotic contains ingredients that help heal the gut lining, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to help the body absorb nutrients.
5. Buy From Companies Who Believe in Their Products. The Way to Tell Who Truly Stands Behind Their Products is by Their Guarantee..
Most companies offer a 30 or 60-day money-back guarantee.
The companies who genuinely believe in their product, its quality, and effectiveness offer 90-day money-back guarantee.
If you can find a probiotic that contains all 5 of those components, you’re going to be Golden.
Where Would I Begin to Find Quality Probiotics?
If you have a high-end Vitamin Boutique in your area, you can rummage around to see if they have something.
You can try a bottle of All-Star Nutrition’s Revolutionary 5-in-1 Bio-Heal Probiotic. I’ve tried almost every probiotic on the market, and Bio-Heal had the biggest effect of both myself and my son.
Loving Autism is an organization committed to supporting the health and development of children with autism; by bringing awareness to research-backed solutions based on nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle adaptations.