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How Can Autism Nutritional Therapy Alleviate Symptoms of Autism?

Young people on the autism spectrum may suffer from outbursts in response to stress and frustration. To mitigate chronic stress, it’s important to explore a potential GABA deficiency.

supplements for autism

Navigating Stress and Autism

Children with autism sometimes suffer outbursts from mental stress and frustration, including tantrums, crying, throwing things, and even becoming physically violent.

This may include violence toward themselves or others. For example, autistic children may begin banging their heads against hard objects when stressed.

It’s important to note, however, that the cells may deteriorate from continued stress. Chronic stress can also lower serotonin levels, impacting mood and behavior. Furthermore, as mental stress continues, it may result in biological reactions by increasing epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine production—resulting in fatigue, depression, and a weakened immune system.

Additionally, stress depletes important nutrients that help to calm the nervous system, including ascorbic acid, B vitamins, and magnesium.

What Causes Chronic Stress?

Continued Stress in Children

When the brain is deficient in the neurotransmitter GABA, mental stress may ensue.

This deficiency results in stress by occasionally suppressing neural messages—including those that would otherwise cause the nervous system to become relaxed.

Neurotransmitter production can be disrupted by a deficiency of zinc, vitamin B1, and vitamin B6. It is often associated with poor dietary habits, which can severely limit or even cease GABA production altogether.

GABA Production: Sleep, Exercise, and Diet

Without averaging eight hours of sleep each night, mental stress may increase. GABA is produced by an enzyme called glutamate decarboxylase and associated with sufficient sleep.

For this reason, getting enough sleep is paramount. Otherwise, when the nervous system is disrupted, we may experience irritability, restlessness, movement challenges, and sleep disorders.

Of course, a proper diet and exercise can increase neurotransmitter levels as well. So can supplements and herbs, which we’ll explore in the next sections.

The Effect of Nutrition on the Nervous System

There are many food sources that can help to promote GABA production and calm the nervous system, including:

Plant-based sources: If there are no sensitivity concerns, whole grains, complex carbohydrates, and fermented foods or tea are ideal. In addition, leafy green vegetables rich in magnesium are a natural sedative.

Animal-based sources: Fermented dairy products and fish are great sources of GABA, especially salmon and mackerel.

Conversely, there are also a number of food sources you’ll want to avoid. These include simple carbohydrates and white sugar, which can result in random blood sugar fluctuations, along with increased nervousness, depression, and stress.

Supplements and Herbs for Stress Reduction

The amino acid tyrosine can help to promote GABA production. Other supplements that can be taken for this same reason include inositol, dead green theanine, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Regarding the adaptogenic herbs one might take, the chemical structure of these plants—plants that include steroidal saponins and triterpenoids—can also help with stress reduction. By name, they’re designed to help people adapt to stress.

Now, these herbs are designed to work with cortisol (the stress hormone created in the adrenal glands). In other words, adaptogenic herbs can help to balance and support the glands in times of stress, with the goal of reducing overall stress hormone secretions.

Types of Adaptogenic Herbs:

  • Centella (Alleviates depression)
  • Bacopa (Lessens anxiety)
  • Rhodiola (Increases mood and stress tolerance)
  • Melissa (Calms the nervous system)
  • Hypothyroidism (Reduces stress and promotes sound sleep)
  • Passionflower (Enhances sleep)

How Physical Activity Impacts Mental Stress

The brain creates endorphins when exercising that result in increased GABA production and serotonin levels, thereby calming the nervous system.

Ultimately, diet, exercise, and sleep all play an integral role in reducing stress. These factors should be addressed before investigating alternative causes of chronic stress and anxiety.

The information mentioned above is written solely for the purpose of increasing patient understanding. It does not serve as a substitute for medical advice.

Do you have questions about the content in this article? Please contact us for more information.

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