Broccoli Sprouts and Autism

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in Health, Nutrition | Comments Off on Broccoli Sprouts and Autism

Mom’s were right! Eat your Broccoli.

Phytochemical Extracted From Broccoli Sprouts Shows Promise For Autism Symptoms 

broccoliAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) describes a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by social deficits and communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory issues and in some cases, cognitive delays. While it is currently unknown how many people have ASD, it is estimated that 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys) are affected by this condition – and the incidence appears to be rising. Science does not know the exact cause of ASD but most researchers agree that genetic and environmental factors play a role.

 With no drug or medication available to treat the core symptoms of ASD, many are turning to more conservative methods. Doctors are starting to recognize the significance of diet, the importance of reducing inflammation, and the improvements seen by correcting key nutrient deficiencies. Research shows there is a huge gut-brain connection; so establishing a healthy gut has also been helpful for children with ASD.  

 A study was published last month that showed promising results in young men with ASD being treated with a phytochemical known as sulforaphane, a naturally occurring substance found in broccoli sprouts. In a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study, researchers were able to show that daily administration of sulforaphane for 18 weeks to 29 young men with ASD had significant improvement in symptoms compared to the 15 young men who received the placebo. The study even went further to show that when these young men discontinued the use of the sulforaphane, their symptoms returned. While this study had a small subject group (only 44 young men), this is encouraging news for many who are affected by ASD.

 The decision to use sulforaphane in this study was based on its ability to reverse abnormalities associated with ASD, including oxidative stress, depressed glutathione synthesis, reduced mitochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation, increased lipid peroxidation and neuroinflammation.

 While I wish I could say, “Go gorge on broccoli sprouts…” (which may not be a bad idea anyway), the therapeutic dose is delivered much more efficiently and effectively in supplement form. At Prairie Health and Wellness, we carry BrainSustain for Kids which contains sulforaphanes and other anti-inflammatory, brain-supportive goodies. This supplement is not only intended for children with ASD, as it was designed to enhance brain development and performance in children. This comes in a powder that is easy to add to any breakfast or snack-time smoothie, and does not contain any wheat/gluten, corn protein, soy protein, yeast, fish/shellfish, animal or dairy products, artificial colors or sweeteners, or preservatives.

Kristen Marvin, ND is a graduate of National University of Health Sciences with a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a guest blogger at Prairie Health and Wellness.