Kids With Autism May Benefit From Soluble Fiber: Dr. William Sears Explains How Guar Fiber May Improve Chronic Digestive Issues & Irritability by Dr. William Sears
For the one in 59 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, chronic digestive issues and irritability can be an ongoing problem because their good gut bacteria (probiotics) are out of balance. We don’t know what causes autism, but research indicates that a simple diet change may help manage some of the digestive issues.
A recent pilot study showed that a modest daily dose of soluble guar fiber helped autistic children go more often. The study also showed that supplementation with this fiber decreased the children’s irritability. That’s a simple way to help these children live happier more comfortable lives. I firmly believe that your poop is a window into your health. That’s true for everyone, not just children on the spectrum.
In the study, researchers supplemented the diets of 13 children diagnosed with ASD with 6 grams of guar fiber each day. By the end of the first week, every child in the study experienced some constipation relief. They went from defecating once or twice a week to being able to go two to four times a week.
Soluble fiber helps with constipation because it absorbs water into the stool, helping it move through the body. Soluble fiber is also a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the good bacteria in our gut. Scientists are learning more every day about the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome.
Using a standardized scale, the researchers in this study also found that the children’s irritability also improved significantly. Our brain and our gut have a strong connection. I write a lot about this in my book, Dr. Poo: The Scoop on Comfortable Poop. I explain that your gut acts as your body’s second brain. Your vagus nerve is the superhighway that send signals between these brains. Your gut also produces most of the "feel-good" chemicals your body needs to support a good, stable mood. If your gut-brain is struggling, your head-brain may be struggling, too.
I suggest choosing foods with your gut microbiome in mind. Good sources of soluble fiber are apples, pears, oats, barley and beans. Unfortunately, with the modern diet it can be a challenge to get our daily requirement of soluble fiber, especially for children. You may need to supplement to get the necessary amount.
For additional comments about autism and soluble guar fiber visit AskDrSears.
Does fiber help your autistic child? Please share your experiences below.
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