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Kefir and Autism

What is kefir?

Kefir is a fermented drink that is filled with nutrients and probiotics. It is traditionally made

using dairy (cow or goat) milk. For those that are vegan or lactose intolerant, never fear, there’s also water kefir and coconut milk kefir. The cultured beverage is made by adding kefir grains (colonies of lactic acid bacteria and yeast) to milk or sugar water. The microorganisms in the culture ferment the sugars in the milk or sugar water and turn it into kefir. The culture is removed (it can be reused) leaving the smooth drinkable kefir.

Why would I want my child to eat it?

Gastrointestinal symptoms are commonly reported in people with autism spectrum disorder.

There is a link between gut health and the severity of behavioral and gastrointestinal

symptoms. Sometimes gastrointestinal issues are shadowed by aggression when children with autism are unable to express abdominal discomfort. This can result in wrongly grouped behavioral characteristics of autism. Several factors can contribute to gut dysbiosis in children with autism including restricted diets, antibiotics, allergies, and food intolerances.

The probiotics in kefir can help restore a balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This food can aid in digestion by alleviating diarrhea and/or constipation. Kefir can also help boost the body’s immunity by increasing the likelihood of higher amounts of regulatory cytokines (body’s defense mechanism). Furthermore, inflammatory markers have found to be in higher amounts in children with autism. Probiotics, such as those found in kefir, may be associated with lowered levels of inflammation in the body. Decreased inflammation may lead to

improvements in autistic signs and symptoms such as irritability, hyperactivity, and lethargy.

How can I add this drink to my child’s diet?

Alright, the drink is a bit sour, but there are plenty of ways to sneak it into your child’s food. It

can be blended with fruits and any other optional add ins to make a smoothie. Kefir can be

layered with fruits in popsicle molds for an appealing cold treat. You can get creative and add this nutrient powerhouse to pancakes and your child’s favorite baked goods.

When will I see improvements if any?

By now you have grown to be very patient. Healing the gut can take some time. Changes can be detected as early as a couple weeks and as prolonged as a few to several months. Trying to get your child to try new foods can be a challenge, but always keep trying! Who knows, maybe you will even see improvements to allergies and food intolerances. Lastly, remember to have fun while doing it.

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