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Autism Diet

The importance of nutrition in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).


Imbalance in brain chemicals is implicated in children with ASD & ADHD. It is an underappreciated fact that the primary raw ingredients for the production and function of our brain chemicals are nutrients found in food. 


Nutrients are involved in the production and function of our brain chemicals. Our brain chemicals, otherwise known as ‘neurotransmitters’ are responsible for thinking, feeling, moving, playing and learning. This is why it makes sense that nutrient deficiency or excess can play a huge role in our emotions, motor control, communication, cognition & social capacity. 


Each of us have inborn biochemical factors that influence our personality, behaviour, mental health, immune function and allergic tendencies, this all stems from our epigenetics- the parts of our DNA that is turned on and off by our environment, including nutrient deficiencies and excess, toxins, stress and lifestyle factors.


It is common to have several nutrients in deficiency or excess which can greatly compromise our body's function, this may be due to variations in our DNA, and/or a poor diet. In effect, may put us at an increased risk for certain diseases, cause changes in behaviours & functioning, or mental or physical illness.

In regards to Autism Spectrum Disorder, their DNA sequence, nutrient imbalances and biological pathways that are commonly seen to be compromised affects a child's antioxidant ability, detoxification capacity, and their immune system. Issues within these processes can cause excessive inflammation and may present as symptoms of cognitive impairment or compromised ability to learn, fussy eating, anxiety, lack of language and social skills, inability to control emotions, adverse behaviours, obsessions, sensitivities, food or environmental allergies and poor gut health.

The core therapeutic objectives for ASD include:

  • Nutritional adequacy & supporting common characteristics around eating

  • Gut healing & supporting the gut-brain connection

  • Identifying any underlying food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances

  • Supporting compromised pathways, due to genetic variations. 

  • Reducing inflammation and oxidative stress 

  • Supporting the nervous system, with a strong focus on alleviating anxiety & depression if present, 


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a medical disorder in which epigenetic, neurological, nutritional and environmental factors create imbalance in brain chemical concentration and function. In turn, may present as difficulty paying attention and focusing, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and for some aggressive and rebellious. Depending on what symptoms the child's present with, in combination with their biochemical imbalance. 
The core therapeutic objectives for ADHD include:

  • Correct nutrient deficiencies and excess in diet

  • Provision of key nutrients to assist brain power, improve cognition, learning, behaviour, energy levels and mood. 

  • Supporting the gut-brain axis

  • Identifying any underlying food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances

  • Supporting compromised pathways & chemical imbalances involved in production and function of brain chemicals. 


Although we cannot change our genetics, we support our epigenetic traits, imbalances & compromised pathways with nutrients & dietary change to encourage one towards better health and behaviours. 


My therapy provides a 5 step approach:

  1. Medical & diet history, & review of symptoms

  2. Lab testing (blood, urine, epigenetic (recommended ), stool (if required))  

  3. Identify imbalances & compromised pathways 

  4. Treatment Design (Diet, Lifestyle & Nutrient Therapy)

  5. Follow ups (every 2-4 weeks initially, 3-6 monthly thereafter) 


To discuss, or arrange support for your child, contact Nicole on:

E: wholisticbynikki@gmail.com

P: 0467 645 544


Nicole Brown-Shepherd is a Paediatric Dietitian with a special interest in the role of nutrients in supporting cognitive disorders.