ADHD and Autism

Mark Hyman- Ketogenic Diets, Autism & Alzheimer’s Disease

by Mike Mutzel


The Autism Intensive


Here's a Video Snippet from Dr. Mark Hyman's Autism Intensive Interview


“Low-carb, high-fat ‘ketogenic-style' diets improve cognitive function, especially in patients with Alzheimer's disease autism,” says Dr. Mark Hyman.

Watch the full interview:

Here are a few notes…

21:52 Autism Similarities with Chronic Diseases
Dr. Hyman: I learned this from you, Sid, that if you’ve seen one kid with autism, you’ve seen one kid with autism. I think there is no such thing as autism. There are autisms. There are common themes that show up. There are certain patterns of dysregulation in the system. I think autism is an interesting disease because it’s almost like a microcosm or hologram for everything that goes wrong across all chronic diseases. You are a pediatrician, but I’ve taken care of people all along the age spectrum and I’ve seen many patients with Alzheimer’s or early cognitive impairment or mild cognitive impairment, and the patterns that you see, the disturbances in the biology and the insults are often very much similar. The genetics are similar. The issues around methylation are similar. The toxicity issues are similar. You see these kinds of patterns. I began to realize that whatever is going on in autism is just a degree of magnitude greater than we see in all these other chronic illnesses, but it is a lot of the same thing. The things we often see is about 95% of them have gut issues. 70% have immunologic dysregulation. They have latent infections. They have heavy metal toxins. They have impaired genetics around methylation and sulfation, which is critical at dealing with oxidative stress and detoxification and neurotransmitter function. We see severe nutrient deficiencies, often because of dietary idiosyncrasy or because of their gut function or for various reasons or because of increased needs for some immunic-genetic need. We see these patterns that we actually can work with.

47:59 Ketogenic Diet as Therapy
Dr. Hyman: The question isn’t what is the brain run best on and how does the brain function. It seems that the brain actually does great on ketones and we’ve learned that from work with epilepsy where one of the standard treatments for treatment-resistant epilepsy and extremely high fat, we call ketogenic diet, which is like 70% fat, 5% carbs, 20 or 30% protein, and that actually allows the brains to stop being irritable and start to function. I’ve seen this across the spectrum, like in Alzheimer’s patients or early Alzheimer’s patients who are going down, it helps wake them up. Autistic kids who are having issues that are resistant to other therapies, it’s one of those things that I think about trying and I think in schizophrenic patients, there have been case studies that, in fact I just saw a schizophrenic patient this week and started her on a ketogenic diet. I should be eating at McDonald’s. I am curious to see how it’s going to work for her. If you look in the literature, there are case reports, there are anecdotes to N of 1, and I think we are going to begin to see how we can preserve brain function or enhance brain function through the use of often challenging, but very effective diets.


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