Diet can have a surprisingly profound effect on how children with behavioral issues behave. Certain behavioral disorders such as ASD and ADHD tend to come with allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, as well as gastrointestinal issues that make digestion difficult. Since there is a significant connection between the gut and the brain, these challenges with digestion often exacerbate existing behavioral problems. Parents often find themselves scratching their heads on how to feed their children adequately without gluten, casein, dairy, sugar, soy, or peanuts, especially when autistic children are usually so picky. Here are five foods that can help you start to see a positive difference in your child.
Broccoli: This is an option you will likely have to get creative with to get your child to enjoy, but it's the first item on this list for a reason. The chemical mTOR has been found to be hyperactive in the brains of those with autism and has been thought by some to be a leading cause of autism. Broccoli contains sulforaphane (SFN), which is known to inhibit the transduction of mTOR in the brain. A study demonstrated that autistic participants who received SFN showed improved behaviors over time. Broccoli also contains probiotics that can aid digestive functioning.
Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids naturally help the brain function smoothly and efficiently. Fish, such as salmon or tuna, are full of Omega-3's that can help your child focus while receiving a solid serving of protein needed to build muscle. Omega-3's also are beneficial for cardiovascular health as well.
Gluten-Free Oats: Gluten is a commonly-cited source of trouble for autistic children. This can make it challenging for your child to receive enough carbohydrates and fiber during their day. Oats, on the other hand, are an excellent source of complex carbs and fiber that are naturally gluten-free. If you are feeding your child foods such as oatmeal or granola, be sure they are free of gluten contamination since a lot of oats are either harvested near wheat products or processed on the same materials as them.
Papayas and Pineapples: Both of these delicious fruits contain powerful enzymes that aid in digestion. If your child has gastrointestinal issues, finding ways to introduce these fruits into their diet will likely come with improvement in this area. Pineapple, in particular, has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with mental focus and memory.
Flax Seeds:Again, this one may seem somewhat difficult to get your child excited about, but it's not as terrible as it sounds. Flax seeds contain nutrients that greatly assist in digestion and naturally provide the body with energy. You can easily find delicious baked goods made from flax seeds your child will love, or learn recipes to try for yourself.
Your child may seem stuck in their ways with their diet, but by gradually introducing these foods into their mealtimes, you will soon find the optimal food combinations to help your child thrive.
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