Research Finds Low-Glycemic Index Diet Helps Mice with Autism.

10 Aug

In the past 20 years, the number of diagnosed cases of autism spectrum disorder has dramatically increased. While both a cause for the substantial increase in diagnoses and a cure for autism remain elusive, the findings of a new study indicate that a low-glycemic index diet — a diet used to treat type 2 diabetics — may benefit people with autism. In the study, researchers used mice found to display autism-like symptoms and fed them either a high-glycemic index diet (heavy with foods such as breads, cereals, and other sugary processed foods that can cause blood sugar levels to spike) or a low-glycemic index diet (heavy with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains that take longer to digest, which can keep blood sugar levels more even).

During the study, the research team observed that the mice on the high-glycemic diet displayed several behavioral symptoms consistent with autism such as extensive grooming, repeated actions that served no apparent purpose, and impaired social interactions with other mice. Blood samples from this population of mice showed decreased levels of doublecortin, a protein that indicates neuron development, and increased levels of inflammation markers. On the other hand, the mice fed the low-glycemic diet showed fewer autism-related symptoms, greater neural development, and lower levels of inflammation.

While this study was conducted with mice and further research needs to be done to see if similar results can be observed in human subjects, it does offer hope for patients with autism spectrum disorder as well as a potential avenue to look for a possible contributing cause for the disease. If you don’t have autism spectrum disorder, you can at least take away the finding that eating more natural foods and fewer processed foods will not only help you better manage your blood sugar levels and possibly reduce your risk for diabetes, but if these findings hold up for humans, a low-glycemic diet may also reduce inflammation (which will lower your risk for chronic diseases) and may also help improve your brain’s function.

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