This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Feeding Your Mitochondria to Heal Neurological Disease

As I dug more and more deeply into the roots of both my illness and Roo's, I kept coming back to the mitochondria.  Those tiny organelles that produce so much of our cellular energy are simply so important, that when they are injured, severe consequences can follow.  Mercury and other poisons target them and alter their DNA more easily than that of our cells because their DNA is not as well protected.  Toxins from bacterial and viral infections can also compromise their function, as well as excessive oxalate levels in the body.  Injury to the mitochondria undermines our ability to detoxify, to heal ourselves, our heart, liver and brain function, and can lead to cancer.  All in all they are worth protecting and healing, but how?

I came across a book in my studies called Minding My Mitochondria by Dr Terry Wahls, MD that has turned out to be a real gem.  Dr Wahls is mostly recovered from very advanced Progressive Secondary MS, mostly through eating a diet to heal her mitochondria.  The following video is a TED talk she gave which describes that eating plan in more detail.  Below are some of the most notable quotes from the talk as well as my notes.

She was diagnosed in 2000 with MS and received the best, most advanced care that conventional medicine had to offer, but her condition deteriorated until she needed a motorized wheelchair to get around.  She began doing her own research and found that the mitochondria were the common link in diseases in which brains shrank, such as MS.  She first tried supplementation with fish oil, creatine, and CoQ10.  She learned that in order to make healthy myelin (the protective coating around brain cells that is damaged in MS), the brain needs vitamin B1, B9 (folate), B12, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) and iodine.  She also read that our bodies need sulfur and B6 to make neurotransmitters. 

" is the tiny mitochondria in each of our cells that will manage the energy supply for that cell.  Without your mitochondria, you would be no larger than bacteria."

Discussing the standard amercian diet she says "we, you, are all starving your cells" in regards to how few nutrients most people get from what they eat.  She goes on to say "we are alive because of complex chemical reactions.  If you're not providing the building blocks, that is the vitamins, minerals, essential fats, those reactions cannot happen properly, leading to the wrong structures being made, or structures simply not being made at all.  You set the stage for chronic disease."  She relates this to the rapid increase in chronic disease, learning disorders, and behavioral problems that we are seeing now. 

So, what diet does she advocate?  "For two-and-a-half million years, humans ate what we could gather and hunt...that paleo diet consists of leaves, roots, berries, meat, and fish."  She points out that while what hunter-gatherers eat around the world varies a lot, their diets exceed the RDA by 2 to 10 times.  "These ancient peoples know more about eating for optimal health and vitality than we physicians and we scientists."

This is her diet, based on paleo but tailored to support brain cells and mitochondria- 3 cups of green leaves, 3 cups of sulfur -rich veggies, 3 cups of bright color, grass-fed meat every day, and organ meat and seaweed once each week.  "Yes, it will cost more to eat these beautiful vegetables and berries.  But I assure you, you are going to pay the price.  You'll pay the price now for food that restores your health and vitality, or you can pay the price for doctor's visits, for prescription drugs, surgeries, missed time from work, early retirement, and nursing home care.  The choice is yours."

"I am the canary in the coalmine, here as a warning to all of you.  We have a choice.  We can continue to eat that delicious, convenient, tasty, processed food and watch ourselves and our children grow steadily more overweight, depressed, and diabetic.  We can continue to watch health care costs balloon out of control, bankrupting us individually, and collectively as a country.  Or, we can eat for our mitochondria, eating vegetables and berries, grass-fed meat...organ meat...and seaweed, and have more vitality.  We all have a choice."