Like Cassandra in her corner, I have been proclaiming for over a decade that inflammation and insulin resistance (also known as Metabolic Syndrome, found in diabetics and pre-diabetics) are at the root of most auto-immune and degenerative diseases, and that these issues and the illnesses they engender can successfully be addressed through nutrition and lifestyle changes. Now comes research that not only supports that, but takes it further: these issues can cause problems in the womb, and may be responsible for a third of autism diagnoses, as well as for the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in the past few decades.
What this important article states is that autism can be caused by “inflammatory dysregulation” in the womb, which results from the mother’s chronic inflammatory state. This can result not only autism but other inflammatory issues such as asthma, which has also increased dramatically in the same time period.
As I read the article, I was hoping that food sensitivities, and particularly gluten, would be mentioned, and it was. Food sensitivities (the most common are gluten, dairy, soy, corn and eggs) cause inflammation. Gluten (the protein in wheat, rye, oats, spelt and barley) causes inflammation in everyone, regardless of whether you are diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or not.
I was also struck by the connection to the hygiene hypothesis, and that cultures with more parasites were better able to control inflammation. My clients are always asking me if we can “get rid of the bugs 100%”. My answer is always that we can get rid of the symptoms and the illness, but that we are designed to live in harmony with some level of microbes in our systems. We all have them: bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. The issue is who’s in control: us or them. And one of the fundamental ways they gain control is when we feed them (us) lots of sugar and refined foods, which create inflammation and an environment that favors them. Cambodians, mentioned in the article, may have lots of parasites, but they are not likely to be eating the typical American diet of packaged processed highly refined carbs and sugars.
The article mentions two studies that are testing “medicalized parasites”. But there are already many people with chronic illnesses who voluntarily ingest specific parasites to facilitate healing. I have heard of it in the Lyme community and the Autism community.
So once again, I encourage everyone to look at their nutrition in terms of lowering inflammation and decreasing insulin resistance. The evidence keeps mounting that these are keys to health on every level. Identify and eliminate food sensitivities, balance your macronutrients each time you eat, and decrease your dependence on sugars and refined processed carbohydrates.