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Sugar and Autism: Why are my kids addicted to sugar?

23 July 2023

Last Updated

Author: Warren Gouin

Stop the sugar cravings.

Sugar Cravings And Autism Spectrum Disorder Often Go Together.

Sugar cravings and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - two things that shouldn't go together, but often do. Have you ever wondered why cravings exist in the first place? Well, it all starts with cells in our body sending signals to our brain, asking for food. And it's not just our own cells, but also the microbes that reside within us.

These tiny organisms have a big influence on our cravings, especially when they all have a sweet tooth. Microbes outnumber human cells by tenfold, and if they all prefer sugar, you can bet your cravings will be off the charts. As you'll find later in this post, there are simple things you can try to help reduce the cravings, but first - some background.

Take a moment to think about how much sugar your kids consume. It's worth considering the impact it may have on their bodies, their gut, and their brain. We all want the best for our children, and sugar addictions and gut issues in kids with Autism might be more connected than we think.

Research has shown that Autistic Children tend to have less diverse communities of gut microbes compared to neurotypical children. And we know that a healthy gut is crucial for healing Autism. So, how do we improve gut health? Well, it starts with the right kind of food.

Foods that require a community of microbes to digest, like complex fibres and prebiotics, are essential. On the other hand, foods that can be easily digested by a single strain of yeast or bacteria, such as sugar, contribute to an unhealthy gut.

But here's the challenge: getting our kids to eat those healthier options can be tough. When they crave sugar and simple carbs like pasta and bread, convincing them to opt for more complex fibres seems like an uphill battle.

So, what can we do? It's time to get creative and find ways to make healthier options more appealing. Maybe try incorporating fruits into their diet or experimenting with recipes that include fiber-rich ingredients. Let's make it a mission to improve the diversity of their gut flora and ultimately enhance their lives naturally.

Remember, we're in this together. It might not be easy, but it's worth it. Let's break the sugar-craving cycle and give our children with Autism the best chance at a healthier future.


Does Sugar Cause Autism?

Let's dive into the topic of sugar and its potential connection to autism. It's important to note that autism is a collection of symptoms with multiple causes. Autism is not a disease with a single cause and treatment. Each person's experience with autism is unique, shaped by a variety of factors. However, research suggests that certain factors, such as inflammation and impaired mitochondrial function, can contribute to the development of autism.

So, does sugar cause autism? The answer is no. Sugar itself is not the direct cause of autism. However, it's worth noting that excessive sugar intake can lead to inflammation and hinder mitochondrial function. These effects can have a negative impact on overall health and well-being, including for individuals with autism.

Reducing sugar intake can help alleviate inflammation and support mitochondrial function, allowing the body to heal and improve its functioning. By making conscious choices to limit sugar consumption, we can create a healthier environment for individuals with autism to thrive.

It's crucial to approach this topic with sensitivity and understanding. Autism is a complex condition that requires a multifaceted approach to treatment and support. While reducing sugar intake can be beneficial, it's just one piece of the puzzle.

To learn more about the causes of autism and explore further resources, I encourage you to delve into the background information provided. Together, let's strive to create a world where individuals with autism can lead fulfilling lives and reach their full potential.


Altering Gut Microbes Can Stop Sugar Cravings.

Improving the balance in the gut can make it easier to resist sugar. Our gut microbes play a key role in driving our cravings for certain foods. Take weight loss, for example. It's unfair for personal trainers to blame overweight individuals for lacking willpower. In reality, these individuals often have more willpower than others. They are constantly bombarded with sweet treats, and their gut microbes are sending strong signals for sugar. Despite their efforts to stick to a diet, their willpower eventually gives in when they're tired or stressed, leading to binge-eating.

On the other hand, some people don't have to struggle with the same sugar cravings because they don't have an overgrowth of sugar-loving microbes in their gut. Their gut microbes aren't constantly urging them to eat sugar. As parents, it's important to provide food that promotes a diverse community of microbes in the gut. This means avoiding simple sugars and opting for foods that require a community of microbes to digest. By promoting diversity in the gut, we can support the health of our gut microbes and ultimately our own health.

When the balance in the gut is lost, our health suffers. One of the main culprits for a poor gut environment in the Western world is sugar and other low-quality carbohydrates. Unwanted microbes, such as yeasts, thrive on sugar and disrupt the natural balance in the gut. To enhance our gut ecosystem, we must minimise our intake of poor-quality junk foods, especially those high in sugar. By starving these sugar-loving microbes, we can restore balance and promote diversity in the gut.

While altering children's diets to improve their well-being, especially for those on the Autism Spectrum, may not have guaranteed results, it's definitely worth a try. Reducing processed foods and sugars while increasing prebiotics and fibres can not only make children feel better but also potentially reduce their sugar cravings. This can make it easier for them to make long-term lifestyle changes and improve their overall health.

Sugar also has a negative impact on brain function and development. It can cause systemic inflammation and disrupt the production of neurotransmitters, leading to cognitive issues. By reducing sugar intake, we can support better brain function and development.

In conclusion, improving the balance in the gut by minimising sugar and promoting diversity among gut microbes can make it easier to resist sugar cravings. This can lead to better health outcomes and support overall well-being. So let's prioritise our gut health and make smart dietary choices to nourish our bodies and minds.


Sugars Impact on PANDAS, and it's relation to Autism

When it comes to understanding the impact of sugar on our health, we often overlook the connection it has with conditions like PANDAS and Autism. But the truth is, sugars can wreak havoc on our bodies, especially for children on the Autism Spectrum.

Let's dive into the fascinating world of PANDAS, a condition that showcases the importance of removing sugars and creating a healthy gut environment. PANDAS, which stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, is characterised by symptoms similar to those found in Autism. These symptoms include difficulties with socialising, sensory processing, fine motor skills, and concentration.

But what does sugar have to do with PANDAS? Well, certain strains of bacteria, like Streptococcus, rely heavily on sugar. An overgrowth of these sugar-loving bacteria can result in PANDAS. And here's the kicker – the symptoms of PANDAS, often dismissed as permanent disorders or structural brain issues, could actually be related to this bacterial overgrowth.

Now, I know what you're thinking – how can we tackle this problem? The answer lies in maintaining good oral, sinus, and gut health, along with proper treatment. Antibiotics can provide temporary relief, but the key is to create a balanced gut environment that discourages the growth of unwanted microbes.

But here's the challenge – sugar is everywhere, and cravings for it can be hard to resist. We need to be vigilant and aware of hidden sugars in our foods. It's time to crowd out those sugar-loving microbes and create a complex and balanced gut environment that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.

By removing sugar from our diets, we not only improve our overall health but also reduce the chances of a Streptococcus imbalance. It may not be an easy journey, but the rewards are worth it. So let's take a step towards a healthier future, free from the grip of sugar cravings.

Remember, our stories are all we know, and it's time to create a new narrative – one that prioritises our health and well-being. Together, we can make a difference for those affected by PANDAS and Autism. Let's embrace this challenge and pave the way for a brighter future.


 What Causes Sugar Cravings?

In the wild world of sugar cravings, there are two primary sources that fuel our desire for that sweet, sweet fix;

  • Cravings from human cells.
  • Cravings from microbes.


First, we have cravings from our very own human cells, which occur when our bodies are low on blood glucose and hunger hormones start calling for sugar. But fear not, my friends, for there are ways to address these cravings without diving into the depths of scientific jargon.

One simple solution is to increase satiety by incorporating quality stable fats into our diets. Now, I know what you're thinking - fats? But trust me, not all fats are created equal. It's actually healthier to consume saturated fats and stable unsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado oil. And if you're feeling adventurous, why not try making your own sugar-free chocolate using raw cacao and cacao butter? Just add a dash of essential oil for that extra burst of flavour.

Brain Octane Oil from Bulletproof is a MCT oil from coconut oil.  It increases blood ketone levels, which are used by our cells to create clean energy and reduce the need for glucose. So, by sparing glucose, it minimises those pesky fluctuations that sugar lovers often experience.

Now, let's shift our focus to the microbial world within us. Did you know that there are ten times more microbes in our bodies than human cells? Mind-blowing, right? These little critters have a significant influence on our cravings, especially when it comes to sugar. So, it's crucial to tackle those sugar-loving microbes head-on.

To do this, we must adopt a nutrient-dense diet that's low in poor-quality carbohydrates, such as sugar, and instead, increase our intake of quality carbohydrates from low fructose vegetables and fruits. But hey, I get it - it's not always easy to make such drastic changes overnight. Sometimes, we need a little extra help.

Enter Lauricidin, the ultimate microbial assassin. This supplement aids in killing pathogenic bacteria and yeasts while restoring balance to our gut. Start with a small dose and gradually work your way up to the recommended amount. Combine this with dietary improvements, and you'll be well on your way to conquering those sugar cravings.


Sugar Replacements

Let's talk about sugar cravings and how they relate to autism. Many people turn to common sugar replacements, such as artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks and foods. At first glance, it may seem like a good idea, but these artificial sweeteners can actually cause more harm than good.

Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to gut dysbiosis. And when the gut is out of balance, it can lead to even more cravings for sweet foods. It's a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

There is a better option for a sugar replacement – birch xylitol. Xylitol not only looks and tastes like sugar, but it also doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar levels. That's a win-win situation right there.

The benefits don't stop there. Xylitol has the amazing ability to kill microbes that thrive on sugar. And let's face it, those sugar-loving microbes are often the biggest source of sugar cravings in our bodies. By replacing sugar with xylitol, we can starve those microbes and even eliminate them altogether.

Moderation is key, of course. But by incorporating xylitol into your diet, you may find that your sugar cravings start to diminish. It's a small change that can make a big difference.

So, the next time you're tempted to reach for that sugary treat, think about giving xylitol a try. Your taste buds and your gut will thank you. And who knows, you might just find that your sugar cravings become a thing of the past.

Remember, it's all about finding what works best for you and your body. And in this case, xylitol might just be the sweet solution you've been looking for.


What Foods Should I Focus On To Help My Child With Autism?

Food plays a crucial role to improve health. But remember, there's no one-size-fits-all diet for everyone. However, if your child has an obsession with sugar, there are some foods you can focus on to help them.

Quality Fats: The Unsung Heroes

Believe it or not, quality fats can actually reduce sugar cravings and provide your child with the energy they need. Look for stable fats like saturated fats from grass-fed animals and some polyunsaturated fats. Butter from grass-fed animals is a great option. And don't forget about stable vegetable fats like olive oil and coconut oils, including MCT oils. MCT oils are like a superhero energy source for the body.


Protein can play a role in reducing sugar cravings by increasing satiety and stabilizing blood sugar levels. When we consume protein-rich foods, hormones are realeased signally us to feel full.

Proteins also take longer to digest, which means they provide a longer-lasting feeling of fullness and satisfaction. This can help curb cravings and prevent overeating, including the desire for sugary foods.

When it comes to protein, quality is key. Opt for sustainably raised, grass-fed animal sources. Remember, your child doesn't need a lot of meat. Focus on nutrient-dense options with lower toxin levels. Quality over quantity is the name of the game.

Fibres and Probiotics: The Gut Health Duo

Supporting the microbes that improve our health is crucial, especially for children with autism. A high-fibre diet rich in vegetables should be the foundation of their meals. Make vegetables the star of the show. And while some fruits can be enjoyed in moderation, prioritise berries. As for probiotics, they may not be the first step and might not be cost-effective. But don't worry, we've got more thoughts on probiotics for autism if you're interested.


Remember, this is just a summary of things to consider for your child's sugar obsession. Keep in mind that some children may be sensitive to certain foods, so it's important to tailor their diet accordingly. And please, avoid artificial sweeteners like sucralose. They only worsen sugar cravings and come with negative health effects.

So, let's nourish our little ones with the right foods and help them on their journey to better health. Together, we can make a difference.


Biohacking Sugar Cravings - Glucagon-like Peptide 1 (GLP-1)

Another way gut health improves sugar addiction is GLP-1.

GLP-1, short for glucagon-like peptide 1, is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels in our bodies. It is produced in cells in our intestines and is released after we eat a meal. GLP-1 plays a role in controlling our appetite and can also help reduce obesity.

When GLP-1 is released, it stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, which is a hormone that helps lower blood sugar levels. Insulin allows our cells to take in the sugar from our bloodstream and use it for energy. GLP-1 also helps to inhibit the release of another hormone called glucagon, which raises blood sugar levels. By reducing glucagon levels, GLP-1 helps to keep blood sugar levels in check.

GLP-1 also has another important effect on our bodies. It slows down the movement of food through our gastrointestinal tract and reduces the secretion of digestive fluids. This action is known as the "ileal brake" mechanism and helps to suppress our appetite and reduce food intake. By slowing down the digestion process, GLP-1 gives our brain more time to register that we are full, leading to a decrease in appetite and ultimately helping to reduce obesity.

In addition to its effects on blood sugar control and appetite suppression, GLP-1 has other beneficial effects. It has been found to improve insulin action in our body, leading to better glucose uptake by our cells. GLP-1 also has neurotropic effects, meaning it can affect our brain and nervous system. Studies have shown that GLP-1 can improve cognitive function and may have potential therapeutic applications in neurological disorders.

So how do we use this knowledge to hack sugar craving?

As you've guessed, it's gut related. GLP-1 is produced in the gut, so this is yet another reason to improve gut health to reduce sugar addiction.

But let's get more specific. What are the simple hacks?

Hack 1 - Probiotics that produce butyrate. Akkermansia is a gut bacterium that we normally have naturally in our gut. For various reasons, many of us are low in important keystone bacteria such as Akkermansia. Among its many benefits, Akkermansia contributes to the production of GLP-1 in the gut. It's worth noting that this microbe is a keystone microbe (helps promote other good microbes) and improves the integrity of the gut wall, reducing gut permeability (leaky gut).

Fortunately we can now take Akkermansia as a probiotic, and it's easy to get. There's now a probiotic that includes akkermansia and other rare strains of probiotics that produce butyrate.  This probiotic is called Metabolic Daily.

Here is the link to Metabolic Daily on the iHerb store.

Hack 2 - Butyrate. The main mechanism that stimulates GLP-1 is via Butyrate. A healthy gut full of fibre and balanced microbes produces Butyrate. This is another way a healthy gut improves health.

Butyrate has many benefits, including providing energy for cells in the body, including the gut. Butyrate is the main source of energy for our gut wall and is key for a healthy guy.

There is a shortcut, however - take Butyrate as a supplement.

Here is the link to Butyrate on the iHerb store.


How To Stop Sugar Cravings

Let's distil this down into what to do to stop sugar cravings. I acknowledge that there are various angles and options, but here are some of the simplest and best ways to reduce sugar addiction.

1. Eat more fibre. Eating more fibre promotes healthy microbes that help suppress sugar-loving ones. Fibre also promotes the production of Butyrate.

2. Supplement with Butyrate to increase GLP-1, balance blood sugar and reduce appetite.

3. Take the Metabolic Daily probiotic to further support GLP-1, support other beneficial microbes and improve the health of your gut wall.

4. Dare I say it, reduce sugar intake. Reducing sugar intake helps to starve the microbes that are asking you to eat sugar. This means reducing the high sugar foods in your home and hiding them from your kids.

When you and your children resist the urge to eat sugar, it helps reduce harmful microbes and strengthens your willpower.


In Summary.

Although I've suggested a few tips and tricks to reduce sugar cravings, please remember to focus on a healthy diet. Setting up a healthy diet and lifestyle will have many lasting benefits, including long-term reduction in sugar cravings and improved brain function.

For further information about healing your child with Autism, read this post about the natural treatments for autism.

For support and help from parents of children with ASD that have been through and are going through the process of healing their child, you can join our online private community.

To help you child faster, avoiding costly mistakes, consider hiring an autism life coach.

If you have a picky eater and want to know more about improving the range of quality food that they eat, visit our blog on how to reduce fussy eaters here.

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No products listed on this website are a treatment for autism.  I do not claim any products listed treat or diagnose any medical condition.  

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