I am not a medical doctor, but this is my experience and observation as a macrobiotic counselor. I have practiced as a counselor for 45 years, which includes counseling for a broad range of health problems from severe brain injury to mild learning disorders. I have used the same approach applied in unique ways with diet, home remedies, and lifestyle practices that have improved or eliminated these issues.
It’s my long-time observation that scientific research confirms common sense and collective human experience over time. For example, the recent science of epigenetics demonstrates that diet directly affects how genes express themselves to the point of causing or relieving illness. I feel confident that scientific research will verify some of the following observations in due time.
The number of people who experience adverse reactions immediately following or shortly after immunizations is increasing. There seems to be a clear connection between the increase in immunizations and the prevalence of those who develop Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well. However, not everyone who gets immunizations develops autism, which means there must be other factors that have also contributed to this increase. Furthermore, because some do and some don’t, it’s important to consider that maybe the interaction of vaccinations with the modern diet in certain individuals is related to the development of ASD. I will offer observations and insights into some dietary and lifestyle practices that contribute to these issues.
At the same time that immunizations increased, so have fast foods, and particularly dense, high-energy foods such as poultry, tuna, eggs, baked foods, and hard cheeses. All of these high-energy foods are dense in protein and fats. We also know that the microbiome in our gut directly affects the function of our moods, perceptions, social interactions, and thought processes. The microbiome is nourished particularly by prebiotics (plant-based fiber) which feed probiotics (naturally pickled and fermented foods). These high-energy foods completely lack these essential nutrients that help our body function in its natural state. Without regular consumption of prebiotics and probiotics, these foods are even more harmful.
A second group of foods have the particular effect of driving these high-energy foods deeper into our organs and nervous system. Animal protein and fats solidify and harden more at colder temperatures. This second group includes tropical fruits and nuts (in temperate climates, especially bananas and cashews), cold foods such as iced drinks, and artificial sweeteners and chemicalized foods. Baked foods, because of their density, also drive proteins and fats deeper into the body. The combined interaction of high-energy foods and this second group of foods exacerbate the unhealthy qualities of each. Having both of these foods in combination on a regular basis weaken our organs and nervous system and contribute to a wide range of modern health issues.
Since the mid-80s, high fructose corn syrup became much more prevalent in the food supply. The problem with HFCS is that fructose can only be metabolized in the liver. Over time, high fructose corn syrup damages the liver and can later lead to type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In Oriental Medicine, the liver meridian goes through the deepest part of the brain out through the crown of the head, where all energy (ki) converges at this point. The liver affects the circulation and metabolism of energy in the entire body.
These three foods groups in excess and in combination, constantly places stress and interfere with the normal interaction of the organs, brain, and nervous system. Overall, these foods contribute to further imbalances in our moods, thinking ability, and broader social activities. Together with that, there’s been a drastic disruption and decay in eating habits. Combine this with a lack of contact with nature or outdoor activity, or conversely in the same way excessive sitting, and time interacting with technology and screens.
The relationships between these foods and lifestyle habits all contribute their fair share to any number and range of illnesses in today’s society. However, there is a way back through adjusting our dietary and lifestyle practices. These practices are further detailed in the 7 Steps, and can be summarized in this way. Health begins with good eating habits. Increasing the full range of fiber-rich foods, especially grains, beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, and naturally pickled and fermented foods. Finally, we can increase our outdoor activity.
Can these foods and practices help with or reverse ASD? Yes, especially when these eating habits and lifestyle practices begin at a young age. These dietary and lifestyle practices give us physical and mental vitality, adaptability and flexibility that are helpful in all circumstances. Furthermore, they give us the ability to connect with and express our unique creativity.
“Our son (who asked to remain anonymous for this story) was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the summer of 2015, after a difficult year at school and at home. He was always different from my other kids: a late talker, played incessantly with blocks and trains, was a high energy child and had many accidents (and many trips to the emergency room), also he was aggressive towards my two other kids sometimes.
He also seemed like he was in his own world much of the time, but my husband thought that our son reminded him of his father, who was an eccentric writer in Soviet Russia. It never occurred to me that he would end up with an Autism diagnosis but looking back, the clues were there. When our son started school, he was well-behaved and got good grades, but had many atypical interests: birds, geography and chemistry, to name a few, and was not well-adjusted socially. I chalked it up to maybe being a bit nerdy or quirky. Was he a future engineer, like my father? One third grade teacher expressed some concern over his social development but she was not allowed to explicitly mention words like “Autism” or “Asperger’s” and my response to her was that he was in Cub Scouts and I made playdates for him with other children. I had no idea what she may have been referring to.
In middle school, his grades and behavior remained the same until the 8th grade. Around the time he turned 14 (I think adolescence played a part in making his condition much worse), his behavior became uncontrollable. He jumped on our couch so much that he broke it, despite being told not to; he fought much more with our other children; his grades dropped sharply; he wasn’t able to sit at the dinner table at all, and car rides became almost unbearable. At dinner, he would leave the table a few minutes after dinner started. We would ask him to come back to the table, but he would leave again. Eventually, eating together became impossible.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed help. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, as a parent, so I started seeing a psychologist. When I described what was going on at home and with my son, she thought his symptoms sounded like Autism and suggested I have him evaluated by a specialist. I was stunned. I didn’t know much about Autism and had the idea that Autistic people were nonverbal, nonsocial and couldn’t care for themselves, or do much in school.
I started reading up on the subject and soon realized that Autism may apply to our son. I found a neuropsychologist and had him evaluated. The tests came back positive: Autism Spectrum Disorder-Mild, ADHD and Learning Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified, which included Academic Fluency Processing Speed deficits.)
All of the books that I read about Autism painted a dark picture for the future. I had fears that his condition would get worse with time. The neuropsychologist recommended cognitive behavioral therapy twice a week and possible medications if the therapy didn’t help or if he started to get worse. I knew that I wouldn’t put him on drugs and wanted to see if there was a better way.
We came to see Denny Waxman for a consultation shortly after the diagnosis to see if he could help. Our son had several food obsessions, which can be typical of Autism. One of them was hot sauce. Denny asked him if he would be willing to give the new food recommendations a try and he agreed. Some things that our son had to avoid: hot sauce, shellfish, coconut and most tropical fruits, among other things. Our son was not thrilled about the loss of hot sauce or one of his favorite dishes, conch fritters, but he was surprisingly good at self-monitoring about what he could and couldn’t eat.
His behavior improved right away: suddenly, he could sit at the table for dinner. He stopped jumping on the couch. He stopped picking fights with his younger brother and the house became more peaceful. When school started again, he reported having a much easier time concentrating on his school work. It’s been two years now and he is 16. He still has difficulty making social connections with others- but he is slowly improving on that front, too. Recently, he joined the tennis team at school, which is a big development for him because he’s never joined a sport, activity, or club at school on his own. He’s also given up a few of his fixations, namely nerf guns and a certain video game, which he played obsessively for years. He’s also started using social media, which according to the neuropsych, is a positive development.
I know that his social development will probably always be on a slower scale that my other kids. When he turned 16, he wasn’t interested in learning to drive. Comparing this with his social butterfly of a sister, who is 14 and already knows what kind of car she wants, it’s a little hard to deal with because I know it’s part of his Autism profile. I also know that he will continue to need support in school and a few accommodations, but the main point is that I can actually see a future for him now that I see improvements in his condition.
I really wasn’t sure what would happen with him in the future. Would he get worse? A few years ago, he seemed to be on a negative trajectory. But today, I am so very happy that the worst of his symptoms have been alleviated and with more time, I expect that the progress will continue and he will have a normal life. My wish is for every family struggling with Autism Spectrum Disorder to be able to take full advantage of the gift of macrobiotics.”