Nancy Dell: Nutrients to help Autism; New foods to help memory

1 in 45 children in the U.S. have now been identified with autism spectrum disorder

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1. My child has been diagnosed with autism. Do I need to do anything special with his diet?
Liz, Internet

A new government survey of parents suggests 1 in 45 children in the U.S. have now been identified with autism spectrum disorder. One of the dietitians who works with me specializes in working with autistic kids. She says they often prefer – or only eat- processed foods.

Therefore, they are at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies and about 80% of children with autism have chronic gastro-intestinal problems. Have your doctor check to see if your child has any of these concerns. Many parents report improvement when they eliminate gluten and eliminate casein found in milk although studies don’t show this.

Nutrients that may improve behavior:

  • Omega-3 fat
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • CoQ 10

Omega – 3 fats, zinc, iron and co Q 10 may also help improve behavior and the health of an autistic child. Every child is different and you need to get details on these nutrients and on mealtime strategies by seeing a Registered Dietitian. Most insurances in Massachusetts cover seeing a dietitian.

2. Anything new on foods to improve memory?
Barbara, Internet

In the past we have reported that blueberries and walnuts can improve memory. A newer study reports that leafy greens help as well. For 5 years, the Rush Memory and Aging Project reviewed the diets of nearly one thousand people age 81 or older.

The researchers found those who ate 1 to 2 servings of leafy greens a day had the mental capacity of someone 10 years younger. So if you want to keep your brain sharp as you age enjoy spinach, Kale or collard greens every day.

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