Autism Caregivers, Don’t Forget About YOU.
Over the years (not nearly enough years to fully understand it) as autism has been studied, it’s evolved from being thought of as a purely psychological condition, mostly affecting behavior and social interaction, to being recognized as a medical condition with several overlapping sets of problems.
One of the newest sets of problems placed within the autism puzzle is this: toxins, along with the two bodily processes that those toxins will nearly universally create–chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
The Methylation Component
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR, in case you’re new to our blog) is the enzyme that creates activated folate, critical to neurotransmitter function, among other things. MTHFR also methylates the vitamin B-12 we eat…and there’s a whole domino effect, as shown above. When this methylation process works normally, we make glutathione as we should. When, however, this methylation process does not work optimally, we refer to the problem as “hypomethylation.”
People with genetic vulnerabilities in MTHFR are more susceptible to hypomethylation, and those vulnerabilities are 1.7-fold higher in the autism population. That higher incidence is likely inherited from the parents.
And therein lies the rub.
You’re as genetically vulnerable as your children.
Chronic stress is like a toxin; your body rebels. As genetically vulnerable caregivers, you may then encounter some of the same medical challenges your children do. Research into caregivers shows that stress promotes inflammation, impacts immune function, induces oxidative stress, affects bowel function and causes quicker aging.
Care for the caregiver
Caregivers tend to put themselves second (at best) or, more commonly, dead last. Fortunately, basic interventions exist, ones that can be inexpensive AND minimally disruptive to the schedule–and the names are easy to pronounce:
Dietary principles for caregivers and children (Buckley, J).
- “Eat your colors.”
- Eliminate gluten and casein.
- Eat fewer of the “white” foods that turn too quickly to sugar.
- Make organic choices to the extent that your budget will allow, especially important with fruits and vegetables that absorb the highest amounts of toxins
- Choose more veggies
- Snack on seeds and nuts.
- sign up for the 5K walk/run races that are all over the place these days. If you know you have an upcoming event (especially if you paid to register for it!), you’re more likely to “train” for it.
- Find an exercise partner. Having a partner holds you accountable and makes it more fun.
- Put it in your planner. You know how committed you are to that planner.
- eat a primarily organic, green plant-based diet.
- avoid all additional stressors to your bodies
- avoid any environmental stressors.