Autism and defining clinical nutrition & wellness
Rosalba Maistoru M.A., BCBA
The field of clinical nutrition has evolved into a practice that is increasingly incorporated into mainstream medical treatment. Clinical nutrition is the study of the relationship between food and the well-being of the body. More specifically, it is the science of nutrients and how they are digested, absorbed, transported, metabolized, stored and discharged by the body. Besides studying how food works in the body, nutritionists are interested in how the environment affects the quality and safety of foods, and how these factors influence health and disease.
It is believed by many reputable scientists, physicians and clinicians that there are generally two things that make people feel sick, toxicity and inflammation. Research over the years has also suggested that there is a real connection between what an individual eats, how they live their life and how they feel. For example, common foods, including nuts, wheat gluten, dairy products, fish, shrimp, soy, bananas, corn and eggs, can trigger allergic inflammatory reactions. If the proteins in these foods are not properly digested, they may create a dysfunction in multiple organ systems, including the brain and the gastrointestinal system. These manifestations are known as food allergies and sensitivities. In children, common symptoms may include frequent ear infections, repeated urinary tract infections and diaper rashes, continuous stuffy/runny nose and colds or upper respiratory infections, dark circles under eyes, hyperactivity or poor attention span. This condition is often seen in many individuals with ASD.
The immune system fights stress and toxins created by the environment and a person’s diet. When this system is overwhelmed, it can damage the metabolism and lead to certain diseases. A deficiency of iron can decrease immunity as well, limiting oxygen delivery to cells and resulting in fatigue and poor work performance. Iron intake is also negatively influenced by low nutrient density foods, which are high in calories but low in vitamins and minerals. Sugar sweetened sodas and most desserts are examples of low nutrient density foods, as are snack foods such as potato chips.
Iron is an integral part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health. In humans, iron is an essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport. It is also essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. Many think iron is a heavy metal, which it is not. Iron is an essential micronutrient. ‘Essential’ used in this way means that the body does not produce the nutrient; ‘micronutrient’ means that the body only requires tiny amounts to function.
lmost two-thirds of iron in the body is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. Smaller amounts of iron are found in myoglobin, a protein that helps supply oxygen to muscle, and in enzymes that assist biochem...