Common Digestive Problems for Those with Autism, and How to Treat Them Naturally
Although we tend to omit it from our conversations about health, the digestive system plays an intricate and extremely important role in our well-being.
Did you know that the gut is directly linked to the brain via a large nerve called the vagus?
Because of this connection, the contents of our digestive system, from the food we eat to the microbes that live there, affect our brain in a number of ways. Unfortunately, digestive problems plague as many as 70 million Americans each year, and are particularly common in people with autism.
Try out some of these natural remedies so you can put that negative gut feeling to rest once and for all.
Bloating is that uncomfortable feeling of excess gas in the intestines brought on by certain foods, hormone changes, or poor eating habits. For quick relief, go on a brisk 10-minute walk. Getting your body moving can help gas pass through your digestive system more quickly.
For a more long-term solution, try supplementing with probiotics that help bloating. Dysbiosis, or an imbalanced gut, occurs when bad microorganisms take over the gut and diminish populations of good bacteria. This can alter how food is digested as it moves through the gut, producing excess gas and waste build-up. Probiotics rebalance the gut to help food and gas move more quickly through the digestive system and provide relief from various issues, including bloating.
Heartburn, or reflux, is one of the most common digestive discomforts. Not only is it painful, but frequent symptoms can damage the esophagus over time.
The best way to naturally treat heartburn is to neutralize the acids causing the burning sensation in your chest and raise the pH level in your stomach. This can be accomplished by chewing gum to increase saliva production, drinking more water, or sipping a solution of baking soda and warm water. Try to avoid foods that are fatty, acidic, or spicy. Instead, stick to a diet rich in protein and unprocessed foods.
Finally, practice deep breathing exercises to strengthen the muscles around the lower esophageal sphincter.
Ulcers cause a burning sensation in the stomach. According to Medical News Today, stress and spicy foods can make ulcers worse by increasing the acidity of the stomach. Luckily, many foods can help relieve symptoms by reducing bacteria in the stomach and speeding healing. Among these include ginger, honey, turmeric, garlic, and colorful fruits like blueberries, apples, and cherries. Additionally, supplementing with probiotics can help restore balance to your gut and reduce harmful bacteria in the stomach.
Nearly 80 percent of gallstones never become a problem. But when they do, they can cause intense pain and require surgery to remove. You can reduce your risk of developing gallstones and prevent symptoms from worsening with these natural remedies recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil:
- Lose weight slowly
- Drink more water
- Get 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium daily from food and/or supplement sources
- Supplement with curcumin and vitamin C
- Limit your intake of fat, sugar, and cholesterol
- Consume more fiber
5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) can cause a variety of uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms, from excessive gas to painful cramping. IBS can also put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies by preventing proper absorption of nutrients in your digestive system.
Changing your diet may be the best thing to do if you experience symptoms of IBS. Eat healthy foods high in fiber, including fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes. Many people have found that cutting out dairy and/or gluten from their diets and supplementing with probiotics has worked wonders to dispel their uncomfortable symptoms. One study even discovered that practicing yoga twice per day is just as effective as medication for treating IBS!
As you may know, it can be extremely difficult to pinpoint the cause behind digestive ailments. Fortunately, we do know that food allergies are often to blame. These are especially common in children with autism, and can even worsen their behavioral symptoms.
If you suspect that you or your child is suffering from a food allergy, contact me about allergy testing so we can determine which foods to eliminate from your diet.
By Jasmine Dyoco, who loves crossword puzzles and audio books, learning (anything!) and fencing. Jasmine works with Educatorlabs to curate scholastic information.
Since lots of digestive issues can be linked to dairy and gluten, try my gluten-free crockpot and casserole recipe program FREE for 30 days.