By Kennedy Shelley
New research between our microbiome and the brain took an interesting twist.
Researchers have become more interested in the microbiome, the combination of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in our guts.
It was suspected for years to help us break down food and absorb nutrients, but more research keeps showing how it actually has a brain of its own.
It seems to set off reactions to turn on certain hormones in the body.
While it is not part of us because it has its own DNA, it seems to work hard to keep us alive and is vital to our very existence.
It is certainly vital in preventing a number of diseases, but the most intriguing research is how when it is reset it helps with many of the symptoms of autism.
Researchers at Arizona State University transplanted some of the microbiomes from healthy donors to children with autism and the results were stunning.
The kids had a nearly 50% reduction in their autism symptoms.
Autism affects one in 59 children in the US, and that number appears to be growing.
Autism is a spectrum of issues that make it difficult for these people to relate to others. Sometimes they lack empathy or lack passion.
Sometimes they are highly passionate about certain subjects. Many find that people with autism seem oppositional and irrational.
Occasionally autistic people may suffer from low IQs, but not always.
Autism is a challenge for schools, caregivers and those who have it.
With nearly half a million people on the autism spectrum ready to turn 18 in the next few years, it will also challenge many of our social safety nets too.
There really hasn’t been any treatment for these clusters of symptoms. Mostly education, nutrition and some medications for certain symptoms.
But the Arizona State researchers wanted to see if a fecal transplant might help.
The results of this limited study were stunning.
18 people with autism were given the transplant, and when evaluated two years later all the children not only had significant improvement in their bowel function, but when an independent evaluator looked that those with autism, they showed on average a 47% improvement of symptoms.
There are very few pills in the world that can help complicated diseases such as autism with this much effectiveness. There is no singular treatment for autism.
The changes in behavior didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of one to two months and continued for two years.
The parents of the autistic children reported a 35% improvement in their child’s behavior two years following the treatment.
When the doctors examined the children’s microbiome, they noted a tremendous increase in variety after the transplant.
We don’t fully know the link between what happens in our gut and how that affects our brain, but there is undoubtedly a link.
This means that for those of us who don’t have autism, we should be thinking about preserving our own brain health through our diet and maintaining a healthy microbiome.