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The Daily Tonic: The Revealing Roots Of Autism

The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental condition that we unfortunately still do not know much about. The condition affects how humans learn new things, how they communicate, and how they behave. More specifically, symptoms of ASD can include difficulties interacting with others, problems adapting to changes in routine, repetitive behaviors, irritability, and fixated interests for specific things. 

While symptoms of ASD can develop at any age, they usually emerge within the first couple years of a child’s life. As the name suggests, the severity of ASD symptoms vary on a wide spectrum, leading to more significant challenges in some people with ASD and much milder conditions in others.

We still do not know exactly what causes ASD, but existing research does suggest that it must be a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. 

Fortunately, there is now some new research out that might be able to shed some additional light on the underlying cause of ASD. Evidence in this study seems to suggest that the make up of the gut microbiome might have an impact on the central nervous system and social behaviors, meaning it could also play a role in the development of ASD symptoms. 

How many neurological or developmental disorders like Autism could trace back to gut health?

Building off of previous research, scientists performed fecal transplants from the guts of autistic volunteers into a group of healthy mice. Researchers then observed these mice in comparison to a control group and found behavioral changes that were comparable to what would manifest itself as ASD symptoms in children and adults. 

The results are significant because they seem to suggest that something in the fecal transplant was responsible for the impact on behavior of the mice. 

Could the make-up of our gut microbiome be the root cause or, at the very least, a contributing factor in the development of behavioral and developmental conditions like autism? I mean… that would make sense. There is now a robust body of research supporting the close connection between our brain and our gut. 

The key takeaway? It is always important to note that studies in mice have their limitations. There is still plenty of additional research that needs to be done before we can tie this one up in a pretty bow and call it a win for people with ASD.  

The important takeaway we need to hammer home here is that gut health is incredibly important, yet often overlooked. As a preventative measure against all sorts of negative health outcomes, we should all be looking to promote strong gut health for ourselves and our families by eating mostly whole foods as part of a balanced diet, avoiding ultra processed junk, getting regular exercise, prioritizing good sleep, and adequately hydrating. 

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