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Connection between autism, gut bacteria

Sep. 17, 2013 @ 10:40 PM

The bacteria in your guts are like a baseball team. Let's call them the Biomes. If the players are out of sync, the team will suffer. But if the manager (you) puts a good mix of players on the field (and in your gut), you'll see better results.

Now, like any team, the Biomes suffer a few setbacks along the way (diarrhea, antibiotics, stress, food poisoning), but usually bounce back if you eat a bacteria-loving diet (green vegetables, garlic, onions and high-fiber foods, and avoid red meat, added sugar and processed foods) and take probiotics such as bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 to fill out the roster. But what if your biome is chronically short a couple of key players?

Scientists and doctors have been studying children with autism spectrum disorder who also have gastrointestinal problems -- about 50 percent do -- to see if there is a relationship between the two conditions. Turns out these children have significantly fewer types of gut bacteria, along with lower amounts of three critical strains, Prevotella, Coprococcus and Veillonellaceae. In other words, they need more players on the team. Even more important, researchers found that the imbalance correlated with behavior problems, and have suggested that managing GI problems can dramatically improve ASD-related behavior.

So, if your child has ASD and GI problems, talk with your doctor about getting a lab test of a stool sample. If results show that your child's biome is a couple of players short, explore medical treatments that may provide some relief.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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