Chen Ben Asher – Functional Nutrition – Microbes and diseases: How is Autism Related to Microbes

Previously you could read about what is the connection and influence between asthma and allergies. For many people, the first association when they hear about autism has to do with some genetic or brain abnormalities, but the reality is that that is not always the case. So how is autism related to microbes?

First, we can look what autism is the scientific explanation. According to WebMD, it is “a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that often interferes with a person’s ability to communicate with and relate to others.”[1]

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Most common autism symptoms:

  • Problems with social interactions and relationships – problems for developing normal nonverbal communication skills, e.g., body posture, facial expressions, lack of empathy and interest
  • Problems with verbal and nonverbal communication – delay or inability to talk (up to 40% of people with autism never learn to speak!), problems to start or continue a conversation, repetitive language, difficulties to understand listener’s perspective (e.g., being sarcastic)
  • Limited activities or play – occupation with certain things (e.g., video games, license plates), desire for sameness and routines (e.g., going to work the same route as always), stereotypical actions (e.g., clapping hands)1

The cause of autism had no answers some time. A turning point is that it might have something to do not only with weak genetics, environmental triggers but also microbes. Some of the research has confirmed that “all point towards the potential for a role for the gut microbiota in the presentation and severity of ASD symptoms.”[2] In other words, it means that autism gut bacteria theory is debunked by finding different bacteria in healthy kids versus in those who have autism. Intestines require more attention. Perhaps the difference of children is that some of them are picky eaters (the ones who have autism). They also are more likely to have gastrointestinal problems.

Another research shows that “a single species of gut bacteria can reverse autism-related social behavior in mice.”[3] The possible treatment bacteria is Lactobacillus reuteri. There is no doubt that it is important to understand autism and gut bacteria nature to find the best possible cure or at least lower the typical symptoms.

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Autism and the gut-brain connection is complex. Some of the newest findings were in 2016 at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).[4] Dr. Ruth Ann Luna from the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center presented changes in the stool. We can also talk about autism and leaky gut syndrome connection and others. The awareness is important. If you found all this interesting and useful, further you can read about autoimmune disease and bacteria.

Stay healthy and balanced,

Chen Ben Asher, board-certified nutrition specialist


[1] Asthma. Accessed from:”nofollow”

[2] Gut bacteria in children with autism spectrum disorders: challenges and promise of studying how a complex community influences a complex disease. Accessed from:”nofollow”

[3]A single species of gut bacteria can reverse autism-related social behavior in mice. Reference:”nofollow”

[4] Autism and the microbiome: Case study delivers surprises and guidance. Reference:”nofollow”

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