Researchers from the The Chinese University of Hong Kong say that a “Shaolin diet” model has a significant positive impact on autistic patients.
What is a Shaolin diet?
The diet is based on principles of the Buddist Shaolin monks. Their tradition diet consists primarily of rice, vegetables and fruits.
Writing in the medical journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the researchers set out to make a connection between diet and improving executive functions and behavioral symptoms. They wrote:
“Executive dysfunctions have been found to be related to repetitive/disinhibited behaviors and social deficits in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). This study aims to investigate the potential effect of a Shaolin-medicine-based dietary modification on improving executive functions and behavioral symptoms of ASD and exploring the possible underlying neurophysiological mechanisms.
They looked at Twenty-four children with ASD who were randomly assigned into the experimental (receiving dietary modification for one month) and the control (no modification) groups. Each child was assessed on his/her executive functions, behavioral problems based on parental ratings, and event-related electroencephalography (EEG) activity during a response-monitoring task before and after the one month.
“The experimental group demonstrated significantly improved mental flexibility and inhibitory control after the diet modification, which continued to have a large effect size within the low-functioning subgroup. Such improvements coincided with positive evaluations by their parents on social communication abilities and flexible inhibitory control of daily behaviors and significantly enhanced event-related EEG activity at the rostral and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex.
In contrast, the control group did not show any significant improvements. These positive outcomes of a one-month dietary modification on children with ASD have implicated its potential clinical applicability for patients with executive function deficits.” (1)
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, our goal is to help maximize a child’s potential by setting up an individualized program aimed at diagnosing and treating often hidden problems that may be impeding his or her development. We support the use of behavioral counseling and speech, physical and occupational therapies that are often recommended as part of the overall treatment regimen.
We analyze each patient individually – because, as I’ve said before, each person is biochemically different and, even among those on the autism spectrum, not every treatment works for every person. We administer safe, nontoxic dietary supplements, antifungal agents, and dietary modifications. We also place great emphasis on the detoxification and evaluation and treatment of toxic metals, including mercury, lead, cadmium and aluminum. Treatment may also include improving digestion and assimilation and asking a child to avoid certain foods which could be harmful to his or her wellbeing. We often recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which greatly increases oxygen uptake to the brain, nervous system, skeletal muscle, and all body tissues and has been been found useful in the treatment of the symptoms of autism.
While autism is still quite a mystery, great strides have been made in increasing the awareness of the disorder and uncovering some clues to its potential causes. With more research, increased commitment and willingness for doctors and patients alike to ask tough questions and demand a change in our environment, I am confident the next 10 years will yield much better news on this front than the previous decade has.
1. Chan AS, Sze SL, Han YM, Cheung MC. Dietary intervention enhances executive functions and anterior cingulate activity in autism spectrum disorders: a randomized controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:262136. Epub 2012 May 14.