Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Autism, Carbs and Dysbiosis... Is Science Catching Up?

I must apologize. It's been a month with no recipe postings, and I'm still empty handed. I have several things I have been working on but they are just not there yet. However, I do have something very fascinating to post about. I like to follow Dr Paul Whiteley's blog, Questioning Answers. He is an autism researcher from the UK and posts frequently about diet and gi issues in autistics. Since Gordon is a gi ASD kid I like to keep up with the latest research. This weekend he posted on something huge in this area. It is a study by some top researchers in this field and it is finding the genes to metabolize carbs in some gi autistics are not working. They are also finding the wrong bacteria. They are speculating that these unused carbs are feeding this wrong bacteria. The article is very sciencey, a bit hard to follow, but you can still get the gist. It is titled "Impaired Carbohydrate Digestion and Transport and Mucosal Dysbiosis in the Intestines of Children with Autism and Gastrointestinal Disturbances". Link HERE. Dr. Whiteley gives his easier to understand take on it here and here.

The bottom line of the study is "These results indicate a relationship between human intestinal gene expression and bacterial community structure and may provide insights into the pathophysiology of gastrointestinal disturbances in children with autism."

For anyone who has read Elaine Gottschall's "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" the article will be deja vu, just harder to read. What amazes me is that Dr. Sydney Haas was onto this over 80 years ago. In his book Management of Celiac Disease, in 1951, he speculates that Celiac Disease is caused by a bacterial source that eats certain carbohydrates, remove those types of carbohydrates and you starve out the bacteria. This work was before the discovery of gluten and the current biopsy used to diagnose Celiac Disease. So it is really hard to know how many people back then were true Celiac's and who may have had Crohn's and other bowel issues. (Although it would be interesting to see a modern study on the SCD and Celiac's). What's more, Dr. Haas seems to discuss autistic behavior in this book. He isn't the only one to notice this odd behavior in gi patients either. He cites several other doctors who comment on it as well. "Czerny and Keller (1923-1928) were struck by the lack of attention to the psychological aspect of celiac disease on the part of many authors". Elaine puts excerpts from the book here.

I almost forgot to mention. Dr. Timothy Buie is one of the authors of this study. He is known for heading up the 2010 study in American Academy of Pediatrics "Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report". He also has an interesting interview with the Autism Advocate called "Gastrointestinal Illness in Autism" . You can view a very interesting speech he gave at the Maine CDC Here.

It will be interesting to see how the media portrays the study, if they pick up on it at all.

This post is linked to Fightback Friday.


  1. I enjoyed reading this! Let's hope that the research is given the attention it deserves!

  2. Thanks Vicky. I hope so too. As a mother of an ASD child with a miraculous response to the SCD, I hope this diet becomes mainstream knowledge. I know not all children will respond, but some will. I was excited to see a research team really trying to understand what is going on in the gi tract.

  3. This is really interesting! I did alot of research on SCD and GAPS in order to help my dad with alot of GI issues. Its amazing how much of an effect food can have on us. He is doing amazing, btw, after being on the GAPS for quite a while now. I really hope more and more people catch on to this!

  4. absolutely fascinating. I will be using this post as fodder for something new I am brewing on a discussion with Gary Taubes... :)