We’ve learned that leaky gut can be a major issue for kids with autism. In functional medicine, the approach to leaky gut treatment is governed by the 4 R’s: remove, replace, reinoculate, and repair.
Here is how you can use the 4 R’s to heal your child’s leaky gut.
- Remove: The first step is to remove all the offending foods and microorganisms from your child’s diet. This usually means adhering to a gluten and dairy free diet for a few months. It may also mean eliminating soy, corn, peanuts, citrus, and other foods that might be healthy for some but can cause inflammation in others.
To find out which foods may be causing inflammation in your child you can do a food sensitivity test or an elimination diet. An elimination diet is less expensive but it will require more work.
We also want to eliminate microorganisms that shouldn’t be in their bodies. Previously, we’ve talked about things like yeast overgrowth but there are also things like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that can overgrown in our bodies. Working with a practitioner to remove these pathogens can be helpful because this can be a long and hard process.
- Replace: In this phase we want to replace what might be missing in our children’s digestive systems that may have led to an overgrowth in the first place. We may need to replace stomach acid or other digestive enzymes.
If we’re not properly breaking down our foods this can lead to problems. If we’re lacking the right amount of stomach acids we aren’t killing pathogens as they enter our mouths which can also lead to issues. So replacing these components can help your child regain balance.
It’s important that during this phase you keep up everything you removed in phase one.
- Reinoculate: During this phase we’re focused on putting back in those probiotics that may have been missing in the first place or may have been lost during phase one – removal. When we reinoculate we want to do it with good, high potency, probiotics. You should look for probiotics with colony forming units (CFU) somewhere around 100,000.
You will also need to reinoculate your child’s system with prebiotic fibers which can be found in foods like tofu, sauerkraut, garlic, leeks, and artichokes, or in supplement form.
The two products I recommend to help you reinoculate pre and probiotics are:
- Repair: In this last phase we need to repair any damage caused by the inflammation and overgrowth. You should continue to follow the dietary recommendations from phase one so you don’t trigger a new round of inflammation.
I also suggest the use of a supplement called GI Revive. This has many of the ingredients we know are nourishing and healing to the intestinal lining. Things like L-Glutamine, deglycerized licorice, zinc carnosine, slippery elm, and marshmallow. This comes as a powder that I mix with applesauce or mango nectar, because although it’s sweet tasting, it’s nice to hide it in something with a stronger flavor because it is a bit fibrous.
You can check out my Fullscript collection for a list of all my product recommendations.
In addition to the 4 R’s, you always want to have a good foundation of nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress management in your child’s life. One simple intervention that’s included in this foundational lifestyle piece is vitamin D. Dr. Tom O’Brien has done a lot of research on this and says if vitamin D levels are low we aren’t going to have a healthy gut environment. So you may find that supplementing something as simple as vitamin D can really be a key piece to helping your child heal from, not only leaky gut, but from all sorts of things.
It’s important to stay curious and keep looking for ways to help your child.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as part of creating Your Autism Game Plan.
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