Can Supplements Help Autism?

Autism & Supplements

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When we first started on our journey to help heal my son’s symptoms of autism and his weakened immune system, I originally went to a DAN doctor. She came highly regarded and had a lot of experience, but I was not crazy about the number of different supplements she was recommending that were not whole foods-based. Because I felt my son’s condition was being aggravated by toxins in the our environment and in the food supply, I felt uncomfortable giving anything synthetic if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. So instead, when we we switched over to homeopathy, we hired a holistic nutritionist to help target exactly where my son needed extra support and how we could give it in the “purest” way possible. Because I knew it would be impossible to give him all the supplements all of the time, and because we couldn’t afford to go bankrupt doing so (supplements are expensive!!!),  I spoke with other parents who had been on this journey for awhile and tried to narrow the supplements down to what I felt were the most important ones. I am hoping this list might be helpful to other parents who don’t know where to start.

Here, in no particular order, are the supplements we give, along with the brand we use:

Fish Oil

Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil – Cinnamon Tingle

Vitamin D

Nature’s Answer Vitamin D

Milk Thistle

Nature’s Answer Milk Thistle (Alcohol Free)

Vitamin C

Pure Synergy Vitamin C Powder

Multivitamin

Vitamineral Green Powder

Probiotic

CocoKefir Probiotic

Aloe Vera

Premier Research Labs Aloe Vera 

Magnesium

Natural Calm Magnesium Powder

(* Some supplements we used to give but don’t anymore are Quinton Isotonics and digestive enzymes.)

That’s still a lot of supplements, I know! The good news is that our new homeopath feels we have come a long way in healing our gut and can probably now reduce our supplements down to just the multivitamin and cod-liver oil. I am thinking that I will keep the Vitamin D in there as well, but we’ll see. Something to ask at the next pediatrician’s visit, since the fish oil does have Vitamin D in it already… Anyway, when we give our supplements to  our son, we mix everything in applesauce and feed it to him twice a day. Many whole foods-based supplements are not in capsule form but actually powders or liquids, so this is easy to do. My son has been taking supplements| since he was one and a half, so to him it’s just a normal part of his breakfast and dinner routine. We also just started to give him camel milk again before bed. You can read about the benefits of camel milk here.

For anyone wondering, I take all the same supplements that my son does, just in different amounts. And my husband follows his own regimen of vitamins.

For anyone else wondering, we give our daughter Fish oil, Vitamin D, and Aloe Vera. We are still researching a good whole foods-based multivitamin for her. We don’t feel like she has needed one up until now but she has recently grown a bit picky with eating (ah two year olds) and would rather she now take one. I have narrowed it down to these three choices but just need to do more research on them before I decide: Christopher’s Kid-Emins, Child Life Liquid, Animal Parade Gold, Smarty Pants, Prothera Vita-Tabs.

So can supplements help autism? I believe they can. I actually feel they are quite necessary for an immune system that is often not working up to par (as if often seen in children on the spectrum). Once my son began his regimen, we noticed he started to grow again and tolerate food infractions better. His stomach seemed to be in less distress. And we felt like he was actually absorbing his food better, something his pediatric visits verified, as our doc pointed out my son was now back on the growth curve, had energy, and was starting to overcome his low tone.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was just a whole lot of talk about supplements. Are you asleep yet? If so, you must have taken the magnesium supplement :)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Camel Milk and Hemp Milk and Goat Milk, Oh My!

Healthy Alternatives to Cow's Milk

Ah, milk. We were always told it does a body good. But it doesn’t seem to be that way these days, at least not for the type of milk often found on the shelves of most of our supermarkets. The majority of milk being sold in the US has hormones and GMOs and who knows what else in it. It’s sad to me that we have to worry about these sort of things in our food supply. But that’s another rant for another day. Luckily, organic milk is an option and certainly a better bet. But what does one do when you have a dairy intolerance?

Here’s a little background history on milk consumption in our house and some options we came across.

Dairy hasn’t been an option in our house for the last four years. First we dealt with my son’s food intolerances, which were what initially caused us to look at cassein-free alternatives. But by the time we knew he couldn’t handle dairy, my son was already a year and a half old and was starting to eat a more well-rounded diet, so we didn’t feel the need to rely on milk as a major part of his calcium and vitamin intake. When my daughter was around five months old, we realized that she also could not tolerate dairy. She would break out in red splotches all over face whenever she consumed anything with cassein and would get very constipated. Because she was so young at the time, we needed to find other options for her. We ended up giving her goat milk in the form of Holle Toddler Formula. This was the purest option we could find at the time that would meet her dietary needs. However once you have a dairy allergy, apparently you can be sensitive to goat milk as well. This was my daughter’s case, and she continued to have some constipation issues. Despite this, we kept my daughter on the goat milk until she turned one (to make sure her other dietary needs were met) and then offered her almond milk, coconut milk, and hemp milk. I was making the almond and coconut milk myself to try and keep away from the extra additives that were in most of the almond and coconut milk I was finding in the stores. But I felt my homemade batches were a bit too watery for her and weren’t sustaining her enough. So eventually the hemp milk won out, and that is what she has been drinking every since.

As for  my son, we introduced camels milk when he was around two and a half, after reading about the amazing benefits it offered, especially for children on the autism spectrum. Read one mom’s success story with camel milk here. There are several other testimonials like this. Camel milk was a great addition to my son’s supplement regimen at that time, and I felt like just a small amount everyday helped get his gut healing fast. At this point, my son was already on his way out of the fog that was autism, but I felt good knowing he continued to heal from the inside out. We loved the healing properties of camel milk so much that my husband and I would take a shot glass a day as well. We started adding some to my daughter’s bottles as well.

So that’s the long and short of the many milks that have seen there way into our grocery cart. It seems like most people these days go for coconut or almond milk when looking for an alternative to dairy. But I think these other types of milk should get their chance in the spotlight too. Here’s the low down on the benefits you can hope to get from each of these dairy alternatives.

Holle Organic Goat milk Formula for 12 months+ (14 ounces)

Goat Milk

As mentioned we used Holle Organic Goat Milk Formula when my daughter was younger. But any source of good pure goat milk would work. Shop your local organic coops for the best quality. Those with mild dairy intolerances should be able to handle this type of milk, but if you have a more serious dairy intolerance, this may not work for you. Benefits of drinking goat milk: believed to be anti-inflammatory, closer to human milk and so easier to digest and assimilate in the human body, low in fat and nutrient-dense.

Tempt Milk

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is made out of hemp seeds and water and is a vegan product. (Contrary to popular belief, it does not contain marijuana. The levels of THC in hemp milk is too low to cause psychoactive effects, so you’ll have to get your kicks elsewhere :). We love the Tempt brand and mainly buy the unsweetened original version. This milk has a slightly more bitter taste to it, but my daughter doesn’t seem to mind. It is chock-full of vitamins, such as Vitamins A, E, B-12, folic acid and the amino acid GLA. It is rich in protein, magnesium, iron and potassium, and contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Giving it to make my daughter makes me feel like I am successfully rounding out her diet, even when she’s being picky.

Camel Milk

Camel Milk

This stuff is called “liquid gold” in the middle east. It has been consumed for thousands of years by many cultures. Camel milk contains fat, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, iron and copper. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to reduce food allergy symptoms. It has also been reported to help regulated insulin levels in diabetics and tame cholesterol, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis and leaky gut. A few years ago, it was still impossible to buy camel milk in the US, and parents would have to try and get it shipped from Israel. We are lucky to now have The Camel Milk Association of America. Didn’t know the US had one of those? Well, we do! I also can’t believe how much camel milk tastes like real milk to me. Note: to maximize the benefits of camel milk, you should be cow milk/cassein free.

So if you’re looking for alternatives to dairy, these are some good options – and they taste great to boot!

My 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's Resolution Quote

The last two months have been a complete whirlwind. We finally (as of yesterday!) finished renovations on our house and managed to fit Thanksgiving and Christmas somewhere in between. I won’t lie – I am tired! And while these were all good things that we were experiencing, the chaotic pace of the last two months left me with very little extra energy for anything else. Which means I completely fell off the wagon! Too much unhealthy food and wine. Little to no exercise. And way too much iPad and screen time for the kids.

Now that January is here, I have craved the stability of a normal routine again. I want to feel healthy, strong and on top of things. I don’t often like to make New Years resolutions, since history has shown that I hardly stick to them. But I would like to set some broader goals for myself. Here’s what I am looking forward to in the new year.

My 2015 Goals

Commitment to Healthy Eating

I fully intend to continue with our family’s commitment to healthy eating. I find it more important than ever to really look at what is going into our body and how it makes us feel. The amount of less-than-stellar food I shoved into my mouth during the holidays was totally fun while it lasted (and hey, it’s important to let go sometimes), but it also left me sluggish and about five pounds heavier than I would like to be. I would love to start trying out new recipes for myself and my husband as a sort of date night that we can have together at home, and organize a couple of small dinner parties for friends at home as well. Good food and good friends sounds great to me. This will be easier now that we actually have a dining room table (again, yay for completed renovations!). I just need to get chairs.

Exercise

My husband and I were practicing kundalini yoga last year with a local instructor, but we stopped in June when we began the bulk of our renovations. While the summer and fall gave us nice weather and allowed us to get outside regularly and take walks with the kids, that stopped being a source of exercise once the cold weather came. Plus, on walks, my daughter will no longer sit in a stroller and my son mostly wants to ride his scooter, so needless to say, it is slow going when we go out. Not the cardio experience I was getting when I could push both of them up and down hills in a double stroller. My husband mentioned to me the other day that he missed yoga and felt he was so much more centered when we were doing it. So next week we start up again!

Meditation

My meditation practice also fell by the wayside in the last two months. I just felt like it was all I could do to get the kids up and out of the house before the contractor started work, and between that and holiday planning, I did not feel I had the oomph to keep my old routines up. Truth be told, I could have probably found time, but I was feeling uprooted and overwhelmed, so I just didn’t make it happen. Starting last week, I made a commitment again to get up early and meditate before the kids wake up. I don’t know what it is about meditation, but it really does make the rest of the day fall into place nicely. Or at least I’m just calmer when dealing with things. I try and do my second meditation session  of the day right before bed. Ideally, I would do it in the afternoon while my daughter is napping and my son is in therapy, but there continue to be some loose ends to tie up from the renovations. At least doing it right before bed currently helps me fall asleep faster.

Less media

I had become increasingly annoyed with the amount of media that was being used in our house daily. My son would wake up and want the iPad first thing in the morning, my daughter would be screaming for the TV to be on, and I was compulsively checking my iPhone and feeling distracted. It was easy for me to use media when I needed the kids to be “babysat” while I tended to the many items on my to do list these last two months, but it was obviously starting to be used so often that we were all relying on them way too much. So, as of last week, that stopped. Now the kids are media free until after 4pm everyday (and even then it is limited). And I keep my iPhone and computer use to before they wake up, when they are in their morning preschool program, or after they go to bed. I will write more soon about the great benefits we are seeing with this and how it applies to children on the spectrum. Again, I don’t want to be die-hard about this. There will be some days we make exceptions. But I don’t want it to be the constant anymore.

Focus on friendships

It’s way too easy in your childbearing years to lose sight of the importance of friendships. Sometimes it seems that we are all so caught up in the everyday obligations of childrearing, work, and home maintenance that there is little time left over to connect with others outside of our immediate family. I miss phone calls and visits with my friends and I’m tired of making excuses as to why I don’t keep as in touch as I’d like. I am determined to prioritize my time differently. And without all that extra media time distracting me, I should be able to pick up the phone and connect :)

Decluttering

I have been on a major decluttering kick for the last year or so, and I intend to keep it going. It’s hard to stay mindful when you live among excess. If it’s not useful or beautiful to me, out it goes. We have donated and tossed countless bags of items so far. I love the feeling I get when I know we own just what we need, and I would like to continue working towards that goal.

Growing my Blog

This spot on the internet has been very therapeutic for me, and I would like to continue sharing our story and connecting with other people out there that are into healthy living and/or have a child with special needs. I would like to work on this blog at least once or twice a week, maybe more! I love having other parents reach out to me and hearing their stories too. It’s been a great way to feel less alone in this journey and to share some new ideas. So here’s to more of that going forward!

Whew. I think that’s it. I am really looking forward to this new year. It’s the most settled I have felt in about four years!

I’ll leave you with this pic of the kids from Christmas morning.

Christmas 2014 PictureHappy New Year, everybody!