Julie Matthews is a Certified Nutrition Consultant specializing in autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and nutrition for pregnancy for the past 15 years. With her autism work as a model for addressing chronic disease, she created the BioIndividual Nutrition® approach which customizes diet and nutrition needs to meet each person’s unique biochemistry and supports children and adults facing a wide range of chronic conditions. Her award winning book, Nourishing Hope for Autism, has helped people around the world to make food and nutrition choices that aid the health, learning, and behavior of those with autism, ADHD, and other developmental delays. She presents at leading autism conferences in the US and abroad, and is on the scientific advisory boards for USAAA (U.S. Autism & Asperger Association) and the Autism Nutrition Research Center. Julie is the co-founder of Nourishing Hope and BioIndividual Nutrition Institute, and supports families and clinicians from around the world with her nutrition learning tools and professional training courses. Go to visit
Go visit www.nourishinghope.com for their free ebook: Using Food and Nutrition to Improve Autism and ADHD.
Description and key highlights
In this podcast, Julie Matthews shares important information about the underlying contributors to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and how those can be addressed to improve the health, pain, distress, and quality of life of those with ASD.
Listen to find out:
- How impaired digestive function, immune function and detoxification contribute to developmental disorders
- Whether your ASD child may be reacting to dietary and environmental factors such as gluten, dairy, salicylates, oxalates, heavy metals, environmental chemicals and more
- Should you still be concerned about food reactions even if your child doesn’t have any specific gastrointestinal symptoms
- What does working in the autism world teach us a about ways to help other chronic diseases
- How gut microbes influence mood and behavior
- Why some of us react to food and chemicals while others don’t
- What is intestinal permeability and what problems does it cause
- Why behaviors such as head banging aren’t so much behavior problems, rather they can relate to pain and inflammation
- Why the whole family needs support, not just your ASD child
Hello everyone, this is Romilly Hodges, the lead nutritionist at the clinic of Dr. Kara Fitzgerald and I am delighted to be here today to talk with Julie Matthews about autism. Julie is someone that we admire greatly and who is doing just tremendous work in this area so, hello and welcome Julie.
Thank you Romilly, I’m excited to be here.
Great, we’re really excited to have you. I’ll just give the listeners a bit of background on you from your bio. Julie is a Certified Nutrition Consultant specializing in autism spectrum disorders and ADHD and nutrition for pregnancy, which she’s done for the past 15 years. With her autism work, she uses that as a model for addressing chronic disease and with that she created the bio-individual nutrition approach which customizes diet and nutrition needs to meet each person’s unique biochemistry. She also helps to support children and adults facing a wide range of chronic conditions.
She has an award winning book, which is Nourishing Hope for Autism and has helped people around the world to make food and nutrition choices that aid the health, learning and behavior of those with autism and ADHD and other developmental delays. She presents at leading autism conferences in the US and abroad and is on the scientific advisory boards for USAAA, that’s the US Autism and Asperger Association, and the Autism Nutrition Research Center.
Julie is the co-founder of Nourishing Hope and Bio-Individual Nutrition Institute and she supports families and clinicians from around the world with her nutrition learning tools and professional training courses. You can go and visit her at Nourishinghope.com, where she has got a free e-book which is using food and nutrition to improve autism and ADHD.
With that wonderful background, Julie can you just paint a little bit more of that picture for us about how you got interested in the field of autism and of bio-individual nutrition?
Absolutely, this started about- I guess I’ve been doing this for about 15 years. I originally had started studying autism way back when I was still in nutrition school and I met a man who recovered his children from autism and he started telling me all about the underlying biochemistry and the diets and foods and what helped and what exacerbated symptoms. That was pretty much the start for me. I realized that there was a ton that you could do that nobody ever talked about so people weren’t aware that you could make these amazing changes.
I decided at that point that someone had to do it. Back then, you barely heard about autism. The rates were maybe about one in 350 and now today they’re about one in 49. When I was a kid, they were about one in 10,000. You rarely even heard about gluten-free diets very much 15 years ago so this was a very new area that not many people knew of. I realized that there wasn’t that much information getting out to the public and people needed to know about it. It just really started my passion on this path and as I started down the path I realized that there were a number of different dietary principals that could be helpful.
I guess what got me interested in what I call bio-individual nutrition is that we’re all unique and we all need a different diet. You often hear about, “Oh, this diet is great for autism and everybody’s gotta do this diet.” But what I started to realize was that no one diet really works for everybody, that everybody needed their own unique diet. I started looking at the science, the underlying biochemistry, what diet worked for which people, what foods to remove for which people. I started to create basically systems or ways of looking at dietary approaches based on those unique needs.
That’s when I started the Bio-Individual Nutrition Institute for practitioners to teach them how to do what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years but just without spending the 15 years of learning and studying it. For parents, they can definitely go to my Nourishinghope.com and get all sorts of information that are practical as well as scientific. Then for practitioners, I have the institute which is Bioindividualnutrition.com for people interested in that.
Fantastic. Now, I love that you’re helping to support both communities, definitely both appreciate and need that support and information as well. You were mentioning the rates of autism and so in New Jersey, which is one of the places that I’m also based, it’s now up to one in 28 boys. It’s really extraordinarily high and that’s a huge concern and there’s a lot of people out there who I think would benefit from the information that you have to share.
Why don’t you dive in and tell us about how nutrition plays a role in autism?
I’m glad you brought up that amazing statistic. One in 28 boys in New Jersey. The reason is that- that’s for autism, that’s classic autism. What about PDD-NOS? What about Asperger’s? What about what I would also consider not necessarily “autism spectrum”, but on the spectrum of neurological differences, let’s say, I would put ADHD on that list. I would even put things like eczema and allergies and asthma and all those kind of inflammatory- and we’re gonna talk today about anxiety and all of those things. Put all of those things on the list of childhood imbalances that can, in my opinion, have very similar underlying factors.
Some people have different biochemistry and we’ll talk about what I think is a combination of genetic predispositions, combined with environmental assaults that together might trigger somebody into autism but might trigger somebody else into ADHD or anxiety or whatever it might be. Looking at all of those different things is really important and this is not all about autism.
People with a variety of health conditions really look at nutrition, or hopefully, they will begin to look at nutrition as a factor in supporting their child’s health and healing. With that said, what was your question?
Of course, I know there’s so much to talk about here! What specifically do you think of when it comes to nutrition and all these various autism disorders, because I know that a lot of them can have very common underlying factors that are predisposing and that are contributing to the disease?
Yes, absolutely. Let’s start with that, actually. When we look at what’s underlying these conditions, that really helps us figure out how to apply dietary approaches. What I found is that there’s usually a combination of several things. One is digestive function that’s not working optimally. Actually Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said, “All disease begins in the gut.” As you and I, as health practitioners or nutrition professionals know, if you have an effect on the gut, it can affect any system in the body. If you have a health condition, very often there’s a dietary or digestive component to it. That’s one of the big ones looking at digestion.
Not everybody has huge digestive symptoms, some people do, but you can have a need to address the digestive system even if it’s not these really severe overt conditions, although we do see those too. Digestion, immune function is a really big one. Immune function regulates inflammation and inflammation is really at the core of almost every chronic condition that’s out there. As well as detoxification and our ability to detoxify those environmental toxins I mentioned that we might come in contact with.
Those three systems are some of the huge ones, there’s a lot of other ones that can play a role as well but let’s just focus on the three: digestion, immune and detox. As some of the systems that are affected in autism and as you just heard, pretty much affected in most other chronic conditions as well.
When we’re looking at that, what do we want to focus on food wise? Very often, gluten, the protein found in wheat and a variety of other grains as well as dairy and that protein called casein. Gluten and casein are very difficult on digestion and create a lot of immune system reactions and so those two foods are often some of the dietary principles that we look at initially for most of the kids. If I see a kid with any inflammatory or neurological conditions from autism to ADHD to allergies or any of the other types of things that we talk about, anxiety, I will look at gluten and dairy first.
I guess first might be other things like pesticides or GMOs or artificial additives, I guess those would be first. A close second in terms of foods themselves are food proteins, that would be gluten and dairy. Later at some point in this conversation we can talk about additional food issues, something we call salicylate as well as there’s all sorts of other food compounds that maybe we can talk about as the conversation continues. I don’t want to overwhelm new people with too much of the hard science at the beginning.
Let’s just say I’ve been studying science for a long time and there are these underlying biochemistries that may not be able to tolerate really sometimes nourishing foods like fruit and spices things like that, at least for a short period of time. I’ll settle for my easier one that I think are more ubiquitous for most of us and then we could get into some of the more drilled down, technical, refining dietary principles, like Dr. Ben Feingold found in the 70’s that can create a lot of ADHD and other types of hyperactivity and behavioral reactions.
Sure, and I just want to reiterate something that you said just to highlight it ’cause I think it’s really important. We can have these sensitivities or problems with certain foods that otherwise would be healthy to many people and we can have them without having overt stomach symptoms. We might not have any GI or gastro-intestinal symptoms that are presenting but it can still have an effect either neurologically or in different ways in the body without having digestive distress.
Yes, I think that’s a good point because I’m guessing in your practice you’ve noticed what I’ve noticed, which is as soon as you mention digestive things, parents will often jump on and say, “Oh, well my child doesn’t have digestive issues. Phew okay, we’re all set!” But you can choose things like you said, you can have digestive imbalances that don’t show up in these really outrageous symptoms. You might not notice that the slight bit of chronic constipation is really constipation that’s causing a problem, or you might not have any digestive symptoms that you notice at all and it might be more that that child has more immune system issues rather than digestive issues or something like that.
You’re right, those are what I think of as three kind of buckets – digestion, immune and detoxification and everybody’s capacity for these buckets is different and their ability to process in these three symptoms is different. They also have overlap between them so that one system might be more acute but they all can affect each other.
For somebody, their immune system might be really imbalanced and they might be getting a lot of reactions to foods, while the body’s ability to digest that food might be party at play but it might not be showing up digestively, it might be showing up for them more as an immune reaction. Because when those proteins are broken down they can leak into the blood stream and then create a big immune system response, so they might be seeing it from a totally different perspective. There might be some overlap between those reactions in those systems.
Yeah, perfect. That makes sense. Maybe dive a little bit more into the detoxification angle as well as relates to autism.
Oh, yeah. There’s so many connections here. We are bombarded by more toxins today than we have ever been and I think actually one of the big issues, because toxins can acutely affect whether we turn on or turn off certain really important genes for our health. Sometimes we want to turn them on, sometimes we want to turn them off so it can go either direction. Sometimes toxins turn our genes in the disease promoting direction. Sometimes even the very things that help with our detoxification system, those very toxins can sometimes turn off the important detoxification system so it’s just a double whammy sometimes.
Also, our ability to have good digestive function. For example, we need good bacteria to be able to detoxify and break down certain environmental toxins like mercury and things. Again, these systems can work together as well. Toxins can be the trigger and detoxification is an important system to make sure that we don’t have toxins going to the brain affecting the brain. We don’t have toxins overloading our cells and using all of our good nutrients to try to detoxify these toxins coming in.
We also know that kids with autism and anxiety and depression and ADHD often don’t have very great methylation as you and Kara talk about in your wonderful book, Methylation Diet and Lifestyle, and so we need to have those good systems functioning in order to have good detoxification. When we don’t have those good nutrients, we don’t have the nutrients we need for that. They all really work together in such an important way.
Thank you, I appreciate you explaining that. You explained that very well and I think as you’ve got out the bio-individual aspect of what you do, that kind of feeds into how you think about each person’s ability to detoxify or how each person has an individual response to these environmental toxins that we might be exposed to. Because two different people might be exposed to the same substance and have quite different reactions to it. Can you talk to that a little bit? About how the bio-individual nature of our biochemistry and our genes and our epi-genetics, which is that control layer that sits on top of our genes, really shapes some of those sensitivities more so for some people than others.
Depending on a variety of factors, maybe what their genetic SNPs are, that might play a role and what manifested in their ability to detox for their biochemistry to work well. Whether we’re looking at their current diet and what it looks like and whether there’s a lot of reactive food that might be depleting certain pathways. Whether we’re looking at symptoms that they have or underlying health conditions or underlying health history like lots of antibiotics or whatever those things might be. That final step, it can affect epigenetics, even the functioning
systems themselves and can cause us to be more reactive to certain things than others.
Let’s take salicylates, for example. Salicylates are found in really wonderful nourishing foods like berries and grapes and apples and turmeric and cumin and spices and thyme and all these types of things. There wonderfully anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory and very rich in important phytonutrients and things. If we have a system called sulfation, a biochemical system that’s not working very well, we need methylation to work, we need transulfuration to work.
All those things, including dozens of nutrients coming into the body and being able to be used properly by a good diet and good digestion, and also in order for [inaudible 00:17:53]. If that system of sulfation doesn’t work, then we react to these very nutrient dense foods and the real problem with that, is people often try to improve their diet, which I am all for.
I am all for getting more nutrients into the diet, but they’ll try and go off gluten and dairy for and they’ll think, “Oh gosh, I’m gonna do this it’s gonna be great!” And they start eating more fruit. Which again, I wouldn’t think is a problem normally, although I tend to like vegetables more than fruits, but that’s a side note. They add more of these healthy foods to it and they don’t see the benefits they wanted so then they give up on diet maybe.
They say, “This diet was hard and it really didn’t yield the reduction of hyperactivity or the improvement in attention or the improvement in their aggression or whatever it happened to be.” This must not have been the approach that they needed, so then they stop doing it. For them, bio-individually, their bio-individual nutrition needs might have shown that they’ve done their biochemistry, but maybe they need to start somewhere else. Maybe they needed to boost up those pathways first. Maybe they needed to do some Epsom salt baths or get some of those methylating nutrients or foods or supplements in there or something that’s going to help them being able to process those foods, because they are nutritious foods.
We don’t want to take them out unless we really have to. If they’re getting aggressive and they’re hitting their therapist or something, which I’ve seen a number of times, sometimes these foods cause severe aggression. We need to take out those foods and work on those pathways first. We don’t want to just abandon diet altogether. By understanding those bio-individual nutrition differences, we can now try to work on those underlying root causes so that we can get the most nutrient dense foods in and help our systems work better so that they can get rid of some of these systems but also not get impaired in their dietary variety and nutrition by having to limit things for too long.
At the same time, might need to limit them for a period of time. It’s a little bit complex. It’d be nice if I just said, “Okay, the message is- everyone needs to do these three things and that’s gonna fix everybody.” It doesn’t really work that way and I guess the power in that is realizing that a little bit of knowledge goes a long way in helping to figure out what approach is going to be best for our person.
Right, that makes complete sense. I’ve heard you talk about children with autism as being the canaries in the coal mine, as it were. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your thinking around that and how it might relate to adults and the broader chronic disease epidemic in general?
What I learned early on is that children with autism, they tend to be very sensitive. Their systems, they tend to react to toxins more readily and they may either have more in between consistencies or maybe more perceptible to conditions resulting from nutrient deficiencies. For example, as I started to look at it, I started to realize that autism is just- these children just react more strongly to the things that are present in our modern environment, compared to the average person.
They’re gonna be more affected by food chemicals and environmental toxins and deficiencies in things that other people are and because their reactions are so acute and often extreme, and they happened so young, if you’re 82 years old and you start to get some symptoms of inattentiveness or something, people don’t think much. If you’re 2 and you have severe aggression and you also have inattentiveness with some of these other things and people take notice of that. We want to work on that and so, to me, when I think of canaries in the coal mine, they’re the ones that are the most susceptible and the most showing us that something is wrong and we need to do something about it. Then discover that, wow! These are just very similar underlying factors that apply to a wide range of chronic diseases that exist for both children and adults.
We can learn so much from these children. What foods they react to, what the underlying biochemical systems are. For example, that sulfation system, not only highly affected in autism and ADHD but things like lupus, inflammatory bowel disease and things. What we’ve realized that we now see a way to help influence other adults and children with a variety of chronic disease and food reactions by applying a lot of these same factors.
I discovered it all by diving really deep into autism but then I started looking at the literature and other things would pop up. Their siblings would come to me or their parents would come to me with different conditions that were all positively influenced by the same principle but just addressed different conditions in different ways and so that was really exciting to me. To realize that, wow! These children are really waking us up to some really powerful principles that can help a lot of people.
I think that’s great that you clarify, just highlight that fact that a lot of these conditions can have so many connected underlying causes and so you start to unpick those and you pull on those threads and you can unravel some of those other problems as well. Which is really interesting. I had seen an article a while ago published in Autism Research and so this is going back to the differences in individuals being able to handle certain toxins and different things that may cause reaction.
They had studied the levels of BPA in autistic children versus non autistic children. BPA is a toxin that’s found in plastics, a lot of people know about it now because now you can buy a lot of BPA free plastics, which is not necessarily better. In any case, they found levels of BPA in autistic children three times those of the non-autistic children.
It’s kind of an interesting thing to ponder about why that’s happening or if it’s an increased exposure or is it really that individual different in the ability to detoxify and get that chemical out of your body. There’s a lot of different ways to think about that. I think definitely flagging it for other people is a canary in the coal mine, I like the way that you put that.
Are there other factors beyond nutrition that you wanted to throw in there or did we cover most of those?
Yeah I think we covered most of them from food and diet perspective. Even from food we can expand out to lifestyle factors or, the containers or other types of material containers you put your child’s food in, for example. That is, I think something important to look at. Your child goes to school every day, what kinds of air fresheners do they use or what kind of soaps do they use. Those things can really overload a child and create a quite serious emotional meltdown, if you will. Just really crying, irritability, aggression, all sorts of things from that. Being aware of those, I think is really important.
EMFs and WiFi systems and all of those things that you’d have in your home and in your school. These things can have a very significant effect on someone’s behavior, mood, neurological function. While my focus as the nutrition consultant is to look at the food aspect, I don’t think we can really piece apart or separate all these other lifestyle factors. Because if you have a teacher or a therapist or a parent who is using, let’s say, perfume, that can overwhelm their system. They can feel nauseous, they can get a headache, they can be having a really hard time functioning, so that all the good nutrition in the world is not gonna do anything.
If they’re having this very extreme reaction to these substances. I think that we need to consider all of these things. So many things I think are pretty easy. They don’t need to overwhelm people. If you wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t recommend putting it on our body because your body is your largest organ that’s going to absorb those toxins and get into your blood stream. Simple things can make a big difference. Outside is just a diet.
Okay, great. What are some of the most challenging aspect of your work in caring for a family that has a child with autism?
I think there’s a few things. I think overwhelm of the parent and the child. Stress is one of the biggest factors for chronic disease. Usually, a child with autism is very stressed and we’ll talk about that when we talk about some of that anxiety. They often have sensory overload, so everything is stressful to them and they’re often reacting and that can be stressful to the parents because they’re constantly needing to monitor their environment, try to support them, help them out of those situations and all of that. Not knowing what’s going to happen and come up next, I’m gonna say that parents of children with autism have experienced the stress of combat veterans in terms of PTSD. It’s very stressful. I think that’s one of the challenges that parents face.
Anything you can do to help support the child, helps support the child and the parent. If the child gets more sleep, the parent gets more sleep. The child is less stressed, the parent is less stressed. All of those things are gonna be helpful. I think the other thing that’s probably challenging from a parent’s perspective, if I were a parent of a child with autism, to me one of the most difficult and heartbreaking parts is a child that’s in pain.
I think that a lot of times, we practitioners would get criticism that we are just trying to “change” children with autism and not appreciate their neurological differences. Absolutely not! What I’m trying to do is help children that are in pain and suffering, lead a better quality of life. From a parent’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than seeing your child in pain and not knowing what to do about it and often having a child, if they’re non-verbal, can’t communicate what’s going on.
When we start to interpret headbanging as a “behavior” when really it’s likely a reaction stemming from pain, that is to me one of the bigger challenges I think, or difficulties that I’d think a parent would want to look at how they can address.
Yeah, for sure. To that end, if you were working with a family who was trying to address that, that’s where you’d be bringing in some of those dietary lifestyle principles that you work with? To try to get to the source of that potential pain and make some shifts that would improve that?
Absolutely. We know that not only does all disease begin in the gut, but every food that we consume hits the gut and spends a lot of time in the gut and affects multiple systems from there. The food that we eat can be really nourishing and healing and supportive or it can be inflammatory and pain inducing and feed the bad microbes versus the good. Are we supplying good foods that supply good bacteria or are we doing the opposite?
There’s so many ways that the food that we eat can affect a child and their pain. Also their immune system function and their reaction and the effects of inflammation that way. All of those types of things. I think that I would at least- There’s a lot of ways to possibly address it, but to me one of the foundational ways is through food since that’s going to impact that system on a continuous basis.
Now, we said that we would get into this deeper topic around anxiety and the role that that plays in autism, so I’d love you to talk to that as well and some of the challenges that you see with anxiety.
Sure. I would just touch on a few, but I’ll lay them out a little bit more specifically.
Some of these systems that we talked about that can create hyperactivity and irritability and aggression can also cause anxiety. Inflammation, as I mentioned is pretty much at the root of all chronic disease. From anxiety to depression to gut pain to auto immune conditions, they all have a foundation of chronic inflammation and they found inflammation in the brains of children with autism at autopsy and things like that. We know that inflammation plays a role in autism and we know that inflammation plays a role in anxiety. One of them also methylation is really important for activating and building and being able to get the proper neuro-chemicals, the proper serotonin and dopamine and all of those things for avoiding anxiety.
Decreased methylation, which we know is common in autism. We know that they have a greater need for folates and B12 and good activated forms of it that you talked about in your book in order for good mood and avoiding anxiety and things like that. We look at intestinal function and gut function and good microbiome and good bacteria in the gut. We know from studies good bacteria in the gut is really essential for good mood and so the reverse is true and we know that children with autism often have a lot of dis-biotic bacteria, so bad bacteria or pathogenic bacteria and other microbes and not enough of the good bacteria.
Also, when there isn’t good gut barrier function and that allows inflammation in the gut, that’s going to affect those food compounds getting through an the creation of anxiety from a variety of different ways that way.
You know, there’s a lot of- go ahead.
Yeah. I think it’s worth teasing that one out a little bit for people who might be less familiar with intestinal barrier function and how that comes about and what the problems might be that associate with so called “leaky gut”.
Yes. If people want to see more about this in my book, Nourishing Hope for Autism. I think I spent like 50 pages on this so don’t be overwhelmed if some of this is maybe beyond your current level, but the important part is looking at things like- okay we talked about sulfation and how sulfation is low in children with autism. Sulfation is essential for sulfating the lining of the intestinal tract, so if we don’t have good sulfation, not only can we not break down the foods we talked about, but we don’t have good gut barrier function.
We need that gut, the lining of the gut to allow the nutrients throughout to not allow the toxins through or the large protein chains through that we don’t want to let through. We just want to let the good stuff through and the bad stuff not to get through. The challenge with what we call “leaky gut” is that when we get inflammation, when we get damage to the gut. We allow little tiny cracks in the gut as we might call them, which we call “leaky gut”, a sort of mainstream term for that.
Where we now have the inflammation not only allowing the good stuff to get through and to get broken down properly in order to absorb properly, and also some of the problematic stuff can also get through. So, increase intestinal permeability are what we call casually, “leaky gut” can create a lot of digestive problems and a lot of systemic problems now by not getting enough of the nutrients through and allowing the toxins and the other large inflammatory food proteins to get through.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think that that helps, it’s just been so interesting. This used to be a concept that wasn’t really considered in the mainstream but now there’s just so much research in the scientific journals that addresses intestinal permeability and even uses the term sometimes “leaky gut”. This is really, I feel, that it’s becoming much more mainstreamed and for those who’ve been working in this area for a great deal of time like you have, it’s kind of second nature. We just know that this is something that definitely has an impact.
Now it’s becoming more widely accepted. When you were talking about anxiety, I’m wondering is that something you see providing useful information to help other adults or other people who do not have autism with their anxiety or other kinds of mental health issues?
Yeah, I think it can because as we mentioned early on, children with autism being the canaries in the coal mine – we can learn so much from kids with autism. We can learn so much to help kids with autism from what we know. We can learn so much from autism to help people with other conditions. We can look at all of those things we see with autism, with children with anxiety, we can apply a lot of that to adults that might have anxiety or adults that have depression or adults that have some sort of other mental health condition.
For that matter, adults with a variety of other chronic conditions. We want to look at what is the role of inflammation for adults and what other foods might they be reacting to? Are they reacting to gluten and dairy as well? Are they reacting to salicylates? Are they reacting to something we haven’t even gotten into yet called oxalates, which are very inflammatory? What could they be reacting to that could be adding inflammation.
Then when we look at methylation we know that improper methylation is a factor in anxiety and in depression as I mentioned, in heart disease, in cancer, in all sorts of things. We want to look at methylation from a larger perspective of mental health as well as chronic disease in general. Same thing goes for the gut. We talked about Hippocrates and the gut being at the heart of all chronic disease in a way, so how can we support the gut? What diets can be helpful?
A lot of diets, I guess in my world, a lot of diets start out in the world of autism the low salicylate diet, the low phenol diet, the low histamine diet, the low oxalate diet. Again, they’re not exclusively found there or used there but sometimes because autism is such a complex disorder, we pull out all of the big guns for autism. We pull out all of the tools in our arsenal that we can find and then we realize, “Ah! We can use those in other conditions.” If we can help autism, what else can we help with those things?
Certainly they’ve been using grain free diets in gut disorders and in celiac for decades, so some of that actually has influenced from other conditions that teaches us about autism and sometimes we discover things in autism that would help in other areas. What I feel is that autism is just a model for chronic disease. What we learn can help in both directions. I do think it’s really exciting that we’re really helping to further the science of nutrition in general and chronic disease in general and how to apply nutrition to it back and forth.
We’re supporting a lot of people by understanding these and working together as practitioners in our own isolated ways to help the broader community.
I couldn’t agree more, that’s great. I know we’re coming towards the end of our time, so how would you frame it to a family who’s child has, say a new diagnosis of autism or a spectrum disorder? What are realistic expectations and what hope might you give them to that end?
Oh I’m so glad you asked this question because my website and my book are called Nourishing Hope for a reason. I’m all about trying to help people realize that there’s hope. That any time you intervene with good nutrition, you’re going in the right direction of supporting good health, of supporting a lifetime of laying down a good foundation. I’ve seen children completely recover from autism, which by the way the mainstream doesn’t acknowledge.
That’s huge! That alone! If there’s hope that you could actually recover from autism, that is ground breaking information that most people don’t know. It doesn’t require a full recovery for a child to have a better improved quality of life, a better health, better happiness, improved behavior, improved relationship with their siblings and things because now they’re more connected and all of that.
Whether it’s step by step improvements over time, improvements in language, improvements in diarrhea, improvements in their physical health and their pain and then reduction in that. All of these things to me are wonderful, whether they get a full recovery or not is not necessarily the goal. The goal for me, as a parent would be a child that’s happier and healthier. There is some level of recovery in that, that’s absolutely amazing.
Yes, there is hope and the hope is extensive and I think that my method is to just- We all know hopefully as parents, our main goal is to try to nourish our children. That they could be healthy children and they could be healthy adults. There’s no harm in always looking to try to get them better nutrition. Whether they do fancy therapeutic diets or not, just simply focusing on good nutrition I think is really helpful for everyone. My hope would be that people just look at how they can use food as a beneficial tool in their life to be healthier and happier and to help their child. Whether it’s with anxiety, ADHD or autism, or sleep or diarrhea or whatever happens to be and that there’s always hope.
It’s very rare that I don’t see somebody improve in some way with nutrition. I’ll ask you as the interviewer, as someone that practices nutrition, would you agree that when you focus on just trying to implement good, healthy nutrition strategies, that usually you see something in terms of some improvement?
Yeah, I definitely, 100% agree. For anybody, it’s always worthwhile focusing on nutrition. You can get so many benefits and even if it’s not a full recovery as you say, which, amazingly we do see. Sometimes we do see seemingly full recovery and then children who have been able to be mainstreamed back into regular education and are very self-sufficient, those are wonderful of course. In every case focusing on good nutrition is always going to set you up for a healthier life. Even smaller improvements are really worthwhile in my opinion. As a fellow nutritionist, I can’t say anything else but that. I completely believe in it as well.
I just really appreciate what y\ou do, Julie and how you’ve worked so tirelessly to get the information out. Your experience and all your insights into this, it is really a complex topic and there are so many factors that we can consider. That just goes to reiterate that if you’ve tried one thing and you kind of got disillusioned cause you didn’t feel that it worked, there are many different layers that can be going on, on an individual level, that can be identified and addressed.
I think you’ve done an amazing job at explaining and laying out some of those things. For those that are listening, where can they go to find more information? Just tell them again where to go to find more information about what you do, both in terms of practitioners and also families.
If there’s practitioners interested in studying about all of these different diets and all of this information that we’ve been talking about for a variety of chronic diseases, they can go to Bioindividualnutrition.com. If they are interested specifically my work with autism, if you’re parents, if you want to get my free e-book and other information, you can go to Nourishinghope.com.
Okay that’s fantastic. Julie you also mentioned the Methylation Diet and Lifestyle that Dr. Fitzgerald and I has put together as well so anybody who’s interested in that, that’s on our website. The e-book is on our website as well, so you can take a look at that if you’d like to as well. Julie, thank you so much, I really appreciate you talking with me today and sharing all this really valuable information.
I’m thrilled to be here I love what you’re doing, I love all that methylation stuff and actually another announcement for you guys, is that on my website they can also find the interview that we all did-
Talking about methylation in general. There’s lots of places where listeners can get some great free resources and collaborations that we’ve been working on together that could be very helpful to them so thank you for all that you do and thanks for having me on!
That’s great, Julie. Okay, take care everybody!