The mystery of autism’s causes and treatments continues to unfold as more research is being done into the condition. At the University of Alabama, a professor of human nutrition and hospitality management was inspired by a visiting colleague to find out more about the brain’s development of interpersonal communication skills and was surprised with some findings.
However, she warned that these findings are preliminary but could be the tip of the iceberg and certainly warrants more study on the subject.
Dr. Neggers, along with her colleague, took up the study of blood levels of lipids and fatty acids of two groups of children in South Korea. The first group were typically-developing boys and the second group had boys of the same age group diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
The reason why they looked into the blood levels of lipids is because it has long been known that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, more than any other fatty acids, are essential for the normal development of the brain and the nervous system.
Besides this, the two fatty acids also play a crucial neuro-protective role. They are known to inhibit the development of neurological problems. (1)
Omega-3 fatty acid (also known as alpha-linolenic fatty acid) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is involved in a variety of critical functions like controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain, etc.
It has to be taken in through diet as it is not manufactured by the body. It is found in salmon, shrimp, sardines, tuna, soybean, canola, flaxseed, walnuts, spinach, kale, sprouts, etc. (2)
Omega-6 fatty acid (also known as linolenic or gamma-linolenic acid) is also polyunsaturated fatty acid that needs to be taken in through diet. Good sources are soy, bacon, beef sticks and liver sausage, pistachios, almonds, sesame seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts, walnuts. (3)
Another surprising find was that though both the groups of children under the study ate more or less the same type and quantity of food, they had a significant variation in their omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio.