Tag Archives: autism


Eat Your Vegetables! | The Paleo Diet

There may not be a more agreed-upon nutritional choice, across the board, than daily intake of vegetables.1 From our parents, to our grandparents, we likely always heard “eat your vegetables” at every meal. It turns out that they were on to something.2 Researchers found a hugely protective effect of vegetable consumption for cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, oral cavity and pharynx, endometrium, pancreas, and colon.3, 4 Not too shabby. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are not taking their time-honored advice. As researchers have found, there is a huge gap between the average consumption of vegetables in Americans compared with the amount actually recommended.5, 6

Eat Your Vegetables! | The Paleo DIet

Liu, Rui Hai. “Health-Promoting Components of Fruits and Vegetables in the Diet.” Advances in Nutrition 4.3 (2013): 384S–392S. PMC. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

What may be further damning for our collective health, by not consuming enough vegetables, is how we miss out on a plethora of phytochemicals, which are not even yet fully understood by the scientific community.7 Bioactive compounds such as isothiocyanate erucin (found in cruciferous vegetables) have been studied in regards to potential anti-cancer effects.8, 9 Then there is sulforaphane, which is found in broccoli.10 This dietary component has been studied extensively across a wide range of conditions, from autism to cancer.11

Were you aware that you were missing out on all these important elements, by skipping out on your vegetables? I bet you weren’t. Vegetables even provide nutrients for our eye health.12 That may be a strange way to think of things, but most of us take our eye health completely for granted. Most startlingly, however, researchers found the more vegetables consumed, the less likely they are to die!13 Though there are no doubt other lifestyle factors at play in such studies, the overall pattern and trends associated with vegetable consumption cannot be ignored.14, 15

Eat Your Vegetables! | The Paleo Diet

Mark P. Mattson , Sic L. Chan , Wenzhen Duan “Modification of Brain Aging and Neurodegenerative Disorders by Genes, Diet, and Behavior” Physiological Reviews Published 7 January 2002 Vol. 82 no. 3, 637-672

I know it may not be “thrilling” or “sexy” to eat your vegetables (or even particularly fun), but it is perhaps the single best thing you can do, on a daily basis, for your long-term health.16, 17 The bottom line is, we all have to eat something. Since high-fat, refined sugar diets have been shown to reduce hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning – it makes more sense to go with the veggies.18 The scientific evidence has shown the positive influence of nutrients on specific molecular systems and mechanisms that maintain mental function.19 The detrimental effects of too much sugar are well documented – but there are very few – if any – downsides to eating too many vegetables.20 Loading up on these brain-enhancing foods will also take away room on your plate from poor nutritional choices – like pizza.

A Paleo Diet promotes eating lots of vegetables, as well as other healthy elements like omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to quality sources of protein. All of these help us to achieve our most-optimal state of health. Choosing anything else is simply a mistake, and should be avoided if at all possible. As we become a fatter and fatter planet, we must take our own health very seriously, and make smart choices. And nothing is smarter than eating a large amount of vegetables everyday – just like your mother said.



[1] Wang X, Ouyang Y, Liu J, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2014;349:g4490.

[2] Liu RH. Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):517S-520S.

[3] Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996;96(10):1027-39.

[4] Van duyn MA, Pivonka E. Overview of the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption for the dietetics professional: selected literature. J Am Diet Assoc. 2000;100(12):1511-21.

[5] Liu RH. Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(3):384S-92S.

[6] Katz DL. Plant foods in the American diet? As we sow. Medscape J Med. 2009;11(1):25.

[7] W watson G, M beaver L, E williams D, H dashwood R, Ho E. Phytochemicals from cruciferous vegetables, epigenetics, and prostate cancer prevention. AAPS J. 2013;15(4):951-61.

[8] Melchini A, Traka MH, Catania S, et al. Antiproliferative activity of the dietary isothiocyanate erucin, a bioactive compound from cruciferous vegetables, on human prostate cancer cells. Nutr Cancer. 2013;65(1):132-8.

[9] Herz C, Hertrampf A, Zimmermann S, et al. The isothiocyanate erucin abrogates telomerase in hepatocellular carcinoma cells in vitro and in an orthotopic xenograft tumour model of HCC. J Cell Mol Med. 2014;18(12):2393-403.

[10] Singh K, Connors SL, Macklin EA, et al. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(43):15550-5.

[11] Li Y, Zhang T. Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol. 2013;9(8):1097-103.

[12] Sommerburg O, Keunen JE, Bird AC, Van kuijk FJ. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. Br J Ophthalmol. 1998;82(8):907-10.

[13] Genkinger JM, Platz EA, Hoffman SC, Comstock GW, Helzlsouer KJ. Fruit, vegetable, and antioxidant intake and all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality in a community-dwelling population in Washington County, Maryland. Am J Epidemiol. 2004;160(12):1223-33.

[14] Grant R, Bilgin A, Zeuschner C, et al. The relative impact of a vegetable-rich diet on key markers of health in a cohort of Australian adolescents. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(1):107-15.

[15] Adams MR, Golden DL, Chen H, Register TC, Gugger ET. A diet rich in green and yellow vegetables inhibits atherosclerosis in mice. J Nutr. 2006;136(7):1886-9.

[16] Holt EM, Steffen LM, Moran A, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and its relation to markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(3):414-21.

[17] Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(4):506-16.

[18] Molteni R, Barnard RJ, Ying Z, Roberts CK, Gómez-pinilla F. A high-fat, refined sugar diet reduces hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning. Neuroscience. 2002;112(4):803-14.

[19] Gómez-pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7):568-78.

[20] Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.



Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo DietWe know eating our vegetables is good for us, but few are familiar with the copious benefits of the molecules that are contained within each vegetable.1, 2, 3 Take for example, sulforaphane, a molecule within the isothiocyanate group of organosulfur compounds.4, 5, 6 Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage all contain sulforaphane,7 among others including kale, cauliflower, radishes, broccoli raab, mustard, turnips, bok choy, collards, kohlrabi, arugula, and watercress.8 9 This molecule is currently being studied for its potential antioxidant properties, and how it relates to autism,10, 11, 12, 13, 14 neurodegenerative disorders, and cancers.15, 16, 17, 18

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Boddupalli, Sekhar et al. “Induction of Phase 2 Antioxidant Enzymes by Broccoli Sulforaphane: Perspectives in Maintaining the Antioxidant Activity of Vitamins A, C, and E.” Frontiers in Genetics 3 (2012): 7. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Boddupalli, Sekhar et al. “Induction of Phase 2 Antioxidant Enzymes by Broccoli Sulforaphane: Perspectives in Maintaining the Antioxidant Activity of Vitamins A, C, and E.” Frontiers in Genetics 3 (2012): 7.

In fact, one of the most interesting studies regarding sulforaphane was released just a few months ago.19 The authors of this study concluded that sulforaphane activates the Nrf2 pathway, which helps many inflammatory conditions, after looking specifically at sulforaphane’s effects on autism. With regard to other conditions, recent research into the effects of sulforaphane on cancer stem cells has drawn tremendous interest.20 Sulforaphane has also proven to be an effective chemoprotective agent in cell culture, in carcinogen-induced and genetic animal cancer models, as well as in xenograft models of cancer.21

Other studies have looked at sulforaphane’s potential effects on Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that sulforaphane significantly increased the numbers of 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine-positive neurons in the subventricular and subgranular zones.22 Though the molecule is not yet a definitive cure for any condition, the preventive potential of sulforaphane remains high, and should provide enough incentive to prioritize a healthy, Paleo diet rich in vegetables.

Sulforaphane has also shown a protective effect on the kidney mitochondrial complex,23 where damage is often induced by a high-fat diet. It is, however, worth mentioning that when researchers use the term ‘high-fat,’ they usually are referring to a high-fat, as well as a high-sugar diet. In addition to this kind of protection, a wide variety of acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases, including ischemic/traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, share common characteristics. These characteristics include: oxidative stress, misfolded proteins, excitotoxicity, inflammation, and neuronal loss. Sulforaphane has been shown to help combat nearly all of these characteristics.24 In essence, by eating kale and making other healthy food choices, you will not only avoid damage caused by a poor diet, but also simultaneously protect yourself against potential neurological conditions.

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Tarozzi, Andrea et al. “Sulforaphane as a Potential Protective Phytochemical Against Neurodegenerative Diseases.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2013 (2013): 415078. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Boddupalli, Sekhar et al. “Induction of Phase 2 Antioxidant Enzymes by Broccoli Sulforaphane: Perspectives in Maintaining the Antioxidant Activity of Vitamins A, C, and E.” Frontiers in Genetics 3 (2012): 7. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

So, it seems that when your mother told you to eat your vegetables, she may have been more right than either of you realized. The sheer idea that by simply consuming broccoli, you may be helping to protect your brain against neurodegenerative disorders, or potentially even against cancer, is both a tantalizing prospect, and one more reason to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Though one molecule may not protect you against everything, consuming a diet rich with nutrients is arguably the best thing you can do to protect your own health.25, 26, 27 A Paleo Diet, which is rich with vegetables, high quality sources of protein, and healthy fats, will keep your body and mind in the best shape possible. Eat up!


[1] This H. Food for tomorrow? How the scientific discipline of molecular gastronomy could change the way we eat. EMBO Rep. 2006;7(11):1062-6.

[2] Rao MB, Tanksale AM, Ghatge MS, Deshpande VV. Molecular and biotechnological aspects of microbial proteases. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1998;62(3):597-635.

[3] Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(5):270-8.

[4] Hwang ES, Jeffery EH. Induction of quinone reductase by sulforaphane and sulforaphane N-acetylcysteine conjugate in murine hepatoma cells. J Med Food. 2005;8(2):198-203.

[5] Wang LI, Giovannucci EL, Hunter D, Neuberg D, Su L, Christiani DC. Dietary intake of Cruciferous vegetables, Glutathione S-transferase (GST) polymorphisms and lung cancer risk in a Caucasian population. Cancer Causes Control. Dec 2004;15(10):977-85.

[6] Cornblatt BS, Ye L, Dinkova-Kostova AT, et al. Preclinical and clinical evaluation of sulforaphane for chemoprevention in the breast. Carcinogenesis. 2007 Jul;28(7):1485-90.

[7] Egner PA, Chen JG, Wang JB, et al. Bioavailability of Sulforaphane from two broccoli sprout beverages: results of a short-term, cross-over clinical trial in Qidong, China. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011;4(3):384-95.

[8] Wang L, Liu D, Ahmed T, Chung FL, Conaway C, Chiao JW. Targeting cell cycle machinery as a molecular mechanism of sulforaphane in prostate cancer prevention. Int J Oncol. 2004;24(1):187-92.

[9] Ho E, Clarke JD, Dashwood RH. Dietary sulforaphane, a histone deacetylase inhibitor for cancer prevention. J Nutr. 2009;139(12):2393-6.

[10] Fahey JW, Talalay P. Antioxidant functions of sulforaphane: a potent inducer of Phase II detoxication enzymes. Food Chem Toxicol. 1999;37(9-10):973-9.

[11] Boddupalli S, Mein JR, Lakkanna S, James DR. Induction of phase 2 antioxidant enzymes by broccoli sulforaphane: perspectives in maintaining the antioxidant activity of vitamins a, C, and e. Front Genet. 2012;3:7.

[12] Riedl MA, Saxon A, Diaz-sanchez D. Oral sulforaphane increases Phase II antioxidant enzymes in the human upper airway. Clin Immunol. 2009;130(3):244-51.

[13] Singh K, Connors SL, Macklin EA, et al. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(43):15550-5.

[14] Niculescu MD, Lupu DS. Nutritional influence on epigenetics and effects on longevity. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011;14(1):35-40.

[15] Zhang R, Miao QW, Zhu CX, et al. Sulforaphane Ameliorates Neurobehavioral Deficits and Protects the Brain From Amyloid β Deposits and Peroxidation in Mice With Alzheimer-Like Lesions. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2014;:1533317514542645.

[16] Vauzour D, Buonfiglio M, Corona G, et al. Sulforaphane protects cortical neurons against 5-S-cysteinyl-dopamine-induced toxicity through the activation of ERK1/2, Nrf-2 and the upregulation of detoxification enzymes. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010;54(4):532-42.

[17] Xu T, Ren D, Sun X, Yang G. Dual roles of sulforaphane in cancer treatment. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2012;12(9):1132-42.

[18] Zhang C, Su ZY, Khor TO, Shu L, Kong AN. Sulforaphane enhances Nrf2 expression in prostate cancer TRAMP C1 cells through epigenetic regulation. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013;85(9):1398-404.

[19] Singh K, Connors SL, Macklin EA, et al. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(43):15550-5.

[20] Li Y, Zhang T. Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol. 2013;9(8):1097-103.

[21] Clarke JD, Dashwood RH, Ho E. Multi-targeted prevention of cancer by sulforaphane. Cancer Lett. 2008;269(2):291-304.

[22] Zhang R, Zhang J, Fang L, et al. Neuroprotective effects of sulforaphane on cholinergic neurons in mice with Alzheimer’s disease-like lesions. Int J Mol Sci. 2014;15(8):14396-410.

[23] Xue H, Li Y, Liang B, Wang S. [Protective effects of sulforaphane on the oxidative damage of kidney mitochondria complex in obese rats induced by high-fat diet]. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2014;48(11):1007-11.

[24] Tarozzi A, Angeloni C, Malaguti M, Morroni F, Hrelia S, Hrelia P. Sulforaphane as a potential protective phytochemical against neurodegenerative diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013;2013:415078.

[25] Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(5):270-8.

[26] Habauzit V, Morand C. Evidence for a protective effect of polyphenols-containing foods on cardiovascular health: an update for clinicians. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2012;3(2):87-106.

[27] Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):738-50.

Autism | The Paleo Diet

The word “autism” conjures up a number of different images, which vary widely depending on the person. Traditionally thought of as a very debilitating disorder of neural development, the public awareness of autism has grown and expanded with time.1 With the elimination of Asperger’s from the DSM-5, and its replacement with just ‘autism’ (with accompanying degrees of severity);2 patients now vary widely, from barely functioning to highly functioning. This fascinating condition has no cure, and its causation, and/or mechanism of action, remains a mystery.3 Humans with autism typically exhibit impaired social skills, apparent lack of empathy for others, and repetitive movement patterns. Depending on the severity, altered cognitive function is also observed.4 It is important to note that autism is diagnosed on a spectrum, meaning that someone with high functioning autism may have a near-genius level IQ, but someone lower on the spectrum may not.

As we look into the science behind autism, we see that nerve cells and synapses are altered, both in organization and connectivity.5 How exactly these are altered, is not well understood. One interesting fact regarding prevalence of autism, is that males are four times as likely to be diagnosed as females.6 The underlying cause of this discrepancy is not understood or agreed upon. Within the first 3 years of a child’s life, autism symptoms are usually observed, and hopefully diagnosed. With proper forms of therapy, quality of life can improve. However, heartbreakingly, oftentimes people with autism cannot live alone in adulthood.7 The social aspects of autism are heartbreaking and frustrating, both for those suffering from it, and those related to them. As reported in a study8 by Audrey F. Burgess and Steven E. Gutstein “children with high-functioning autism suffer from more intense and frequent loneliness compared to non-autistic peers, despite the common belief that children with autism prefer to be alone. Making and maintaining friendships often proves to be difficult for those with autism. For them, the quality of friendships, not the number of friends, predicts how lonely they feel.” Keep in mind that this quote refers to HIGH functioning forms of autism. Imagine how a child lower on the spectrum may feel.

But what does diet have to do with a neurological development disorder? Well, as is becoming increasingly well known in the scientific community,9 important neurotransmitters like serotonin are all altered by dietary choices.10 So what does the scientific literature say about autism and diet? In short, quite a bit.11 The anti-inflammatory effects of a diet based on real, whole foods, such as the Paleo Diet, will certainly help many biomarkers related to autism12, 13 To what degree, is still being debated.

Via what mechanism can food alter brain activity? Well, exorphins from grains and dairy can cross the blood-brain barrier and act as opioids in the brain.14 Yes, you read that correctly. Since sufferers of autism typically exhibit ‘leaky gut,’15 the proposed mechanism of action is that these exorphins make their way to the brain, and cause developmental delays.16 This is backed up by different studies,17 and is linked with celiac disease and other conditions like schizophrenia.18 The same mechanism, albeit with addiction-like properties, can be implicated in those suffering from binge eating and obesity, as well.19

There are even more interesting theories, such as the one proposed by John Cannell, M.D., relating low vitamin D levels and damage to the brain.20 As Cannell writes “if your genetics deal you low numbers of VDRs and you have to deal with vitamin D deficiency as well, your developing brain loses. The autism geneticists have been looking for mutations. It is not a mutation; the small de novo mutations they do find (in all 23 pairs of chromosomes) are effects, not causes, of autism because vitamin D deficiency impairs DNA repair mechanisms.”21 This is particularly ground breaking research that deserves more recognition. As Emily Deans, M.D., has also excellently pointed out,22 autism and schizophrenia both exhibit similar gene deletion syndromes, like 1q21.1 deletion syndrome.23 Coincidence? Maybe. But this is certainly an interesting hypothesis.

While no doubt autism and diet are still somewhat controversially linked, it is definitely worth a families’ time and effort to try out a Paleo Diet, because the results can be life-changing. Someone suffering with this disorder deserves the best quality of life possible.


1. Wing L, Potter D. The epidemiology of autistic spectrum disorders: is the prevalence rising?. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2002;8(3):151-61.

2. Huerta M, Bishop SL, Duncan A, Hus V, Lord C. Application of DSM-5 criteria for autism spectrum disorder to three samples of children with DSM-IV diagnoses of pervasive developmental disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 2012;169(10):1056-64.

3. Shelton JF, Hertz-picciotto I, Pessah IN. Tipping the balance of autism risk: potential mechanisms linking pesticides and autism. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120(7):944-51.

4. Dawson G, Webb SJ, Wijsman E, et al. Neurocognitive and electrophysiological evidence of altered face processing in parents of children with autism: implications for a model of abnormal development of social brain circuitry in autism. Dev Psychopathol. 2005;17(3):679-97.

5. Gutierrez RC, Hung J, Zhang Y, Kertesz AC, Espina FJ, Colicos MA. Altered synchrony and connectivity in neuronal networks expressing an autism-related mutation of neuroligin 3. Neuroscience. 2009;162(1):208-21.

6. Newschaffer CJ, Croen LA, Daniels J, et al. The epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders. Annu Rev Public Health. 2007;28:235-58.

7. Marriage S, Wolverton A, Marriage K. Autism spectrum disorder grown up: a chart review of adult functioning. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2009;18(4):322-8.

8. Quality of Life for People with Autism: Raising the Standard for Evaluating Successful Outcomes. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 12(2):80.

9. Available at: //www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/can-what-you-eat-affect-your-mental-health-new-research-links-diet-and-the-mind/2014/03/24/c6b40876-abc0-11e3-af5f-4c56b834c4bf_story.html. Accessed May 16, 2014.

10. Young SN. How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007;32(6):394-9.

11. Available at: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=autism diet. Accessed May 16, 2014.

12. Herbert MR, Buckley JA. Autism and dietary therapy: case report and review of the literature. J Child Neurol. 2013;28(8):975-82.

13. Nadon G, Feldman DE, Dunn W, Gisel E. Association of sensory processing and eating problems in children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism Res Treat. 2011;2011:541926.

14. Available at: //www.childrensdisabilities.info/allergies/developmentaldisordersprotein7.html. Accessed May 16, 2014.

15. De magistris L, Familiari V, Pascotto A, et al. Alterations of the intestinal barrier in patients with autism spectrum disorders and in their first-degree relatives. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010;51(4):418-24.

16. Elder JH. The gluten-free, casein-free diet in autism: an overview with clinical implications. Nutr Clin Pract. 2008;23(6):583-8.

17. Dubynin VA, Malinovskaia IV, Beliaeva IuA, et al. [Delayed effect of exorphins on learning of albino rat pups]. Izv Akad Nauk Ser Biol. 2008;(1):53-60.

18. Severance EG, Alaedini A, Yang S, et al. Gastrointestinal inflammation and associated immune activation in schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2012;138(1):48-53.

19. Drewnowski A, Krahn DD, Demitrack MA, Nairn K, Gosnell BA. Naloxone, an opiate blocker, reduces the consumption of sweet high-fat foods in obese and lean female binge eaters. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;61(6):1206-12.

20. Cannell JJ, Grant WB. What is the role of vitamin D in autism?. Dermatoendocrinol. 2013;5(1):199-204.

21. John Cannell, M. (2014). Mechanism of action in autism? | Vitamin D Council. [online] Vitamindcouncil.org. Available at: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/the-paleo-diet-blog/mechanism-of-action-in-autism/ [Accessed 16 May. 2014].

22. Available at: //www.psychologytoday.com/the-paleo-diet-blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201104/diet-and-autism-newer-studies-and-intriguing-links. Accessed May 16, 2014.

23. Bottillo I, Castori M, De bernardo C, et al. Prenatal diagnosis and post-mortem examination in a fetus with thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR) syndrome due to compound heterozygosity for a 1q21.1 microdeletion and a RBM8A hypomorphic allele: a case report. BMC Res Notes. 2013;6:376.

Folic Acid | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

I just heard a study reported on NPR that reported that women who took folic acid supplements during early pregnancy reduced autism in their children. This conflicts directly with the info in your latest book, The Paleo Answer, about recommendations for folic acid supplements. Where do you stand on this? My wife and I are trying to have a baby I am unsure what to do with this new info.

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

I stand by the more comprehensive data (and not a single study reported in NPR) I have compiled in my most recent book, with a myriad of references (check those, and decide for yourself!). 

Folic acid is not necessarily equivalent in vivo to folate as they are two separate compounds. Folic acid from supplements must be converted into folate in the liver. Women need adequate folate stores to prevent neural tube defects (spina bifida in particular). Folate compromised women (which is a common situation among women who consume a typical western diet low in leafy greens, fruits and organ meats) can increase their body concentrations of folate by consuming artificial folic acid found in vitamins or fortified cereals.

Nevertheless, but there are metabolic and physiologic problems associated with folic acid supplementation which I fully describe in The Paleo Answer.  My suggestion to couples contemplating pregnancy and producing healthy children free of neural tube defects would be to reduce or eliminate processed foods which contain little folate and replace them with leafy greens, fruits, organ meats and other naturally occurring foods rich in folate.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Is A Paleo Diet Beneficial for Asperger's Syndrome? | The Paleo Diet

Dear Professor Cordain,

I know you are probably very busy, so apologies for intruding on your time. My name is Emma, I’m 30 and I have been told I am intolerant to gluten, diary and sugar. I have Aspergers syndrome (a form of Autism), and many people who have this have food intolerances.
I’ve just about managed to cut gluten and diary from my diet, and am now trying to cut sugars out. But every time I eat rice, I get stomach cramps. I came across your Paleo diet when looking at something from Aspergers website. Probably a stupid question – can it be used to gain weight? If so, would there be any side effects from starting the Paleo diet? & how long would it take to have good effects?

Looking forward to your reply,


Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Emma,

There is some clinical evidence outlined in a recent meta analysis that symptoms in children with Autism may improve on dairy and wheat free diets.  Hence, the possibility exists that Asperger’s patients may also see an improvement in symptoms.  I’ll post your question on my blog and see if our readers have any practical experience with the Paleo Diet and Asperger’s syndrome.  White rice maintains a high glycemic load and should be avoided because foods with high glycemic loads tend to promote obesity and diseases of insulin resistance.  Of all the cereal grains rice seems to not be as problematic as the other grains.  Still, I suggest that you should obtain your carbohydrates from fresh fruits and vegetables.  There are no known health or nutritional shortcomings of consuming a contemporary diet based upon “Paleo” food groups.  Most people notice therapeutic effects rapidly, particular even energy levels throughout the day and improved sleep within days to a week of adopting this lifetime mode of eating.  Many other beneficial health effects show up within weeks and a few months after adopting Paleo.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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