In breaking scientific news, a recent study from one of the United States’ and world’s top scientific journals, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1), has shown that a Sulforaphane-enriched diet (from broccoli sprouts) ‘substantially’ helped patients with autism. In this placebo-controlled study, 29 individuals were tested against 15 non-ASD (autism spectrum disorder) patients.
Treatment was tested and shown to be successful by both physicians and caregivers/parents, using three different types of testing. Autism is a disorder that includes symptoms such as repetitive language and stereotypical behavior, as well as impaired social interaction and communication (2). It generally affects males more than females, and there are presently few, if any, known methods for treatment.
Broccoli Sprouts Contain Sulforaphane
Sulforaphane is found in high concentration in foods such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy, watercress, kale, collards, radish, arugula, turnip, mustard, kohlrabi, broccoli rabe, and other cruciferous vegetables. However, it is present at especially high levels in the young sprouts of broccoli and cauliflower.
The ‘Autism Speaks’ organization has also discussed this exciting news (2). At present, the dosages given are higher than those which could be obtained even from an enhanced diet with broccoli sprouts; the scientists used a highly concentrated extract containing the ‘active-ingredient’ Sulforaphane (1).
The Autism Speaks organization pointed out two potentially worrisome side-effects: two individuals had seizures, although both had a history of previous seizures; also, some liver enzymes were slightly elevated. For these reasons, and because the study was small and preliminary, it was suggested that parents be careful if feeding children large amounts of sulphoraphane-rich foods. As well, the organization suggested caution with sulphoraphane-enriched supplements, to ensure they were properly tested. Consultation with a physician was recommended.
Thus, while the results are still in the preliminary stages, they are nonetheless highly exciting because little or no alternative treatment for autism exists at present.
A healthy diet including cruciferous vegetables is good for all of us, and this work only emphasizes the importance of eating these highly valuable foods for health. Hopefully soon, more will be learned concerning helpful methods for children having autism spectrum disorders.
Image source: flic.kr