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Autism Spectrum Disorders: Finding Balance with Nutrition

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neuro-developmental disorder that is characterized by repetitive behavior, difficulty in social situations, trouble communicating verbally and non-verbally, and motor coordination.

Many doctors believe that autism could be prevented by changing up a mom-to-be's diet while pregnant; or, if your child already has autism, the symptoms of autism can be controlled through a balanced diet.

What does the spectrum balance protocol diet include?

Listen in as Shauna K. Young, PhD, CTN, shares details on the spectrum balance protocol diet and how it can help children suffering from autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorders: Finding Balance with Nutrition
Featured Speaker:
Shauna YoungDr. Shauna Young, PhD and Certified Traditional Naturopath, is the owner and Medical Director of the Assertive Wellness Research Center of Durango, CO, which first opened its doors in 2001.

To date, her center has had seen thousands of clients from every U.S. State and several foreign countries. In 2005, after four years of clinical observations and experience, Shauna began specific research regarding her theorized negative effects of excess and stored manganese on the human neurological and sensory input systems and its possible symptomatic connections to Autism and other neurological, learning and behavioral disorders in both children and adults.

The unique success of this clinical research, called the "Spectrum BalanceĀ® Protocol", led to her receiving Distinguished Awards of Excellence in both May of 2006 and 2007 from the internationally-recognized Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine.

Shauna now serves as the Chief Medical Advisor for the NoHarm Foundation (, a Colorado not-for-profit organization formed with the primary goal of releasing this vastly important information with the intent of ushering in a new paradigm in research and providing real help for countless suffering children and adults. This information to date has been downloaded and utilized at no cost to families living in more than 65 countries.

Her first book, If Naturopaths are Quacks, Then I Guess I'm a Duck, has garnished primarily 5 star reviews, and her new book, Erasing Autism: The Spectrum BalanceĀ® Protocol that specifically highlights and chronicles her research and uniquely successful work with Autism Spectrum Disorders, was released in March of 2015.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: May 13, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Living longer and staying healthier. It's Healthy Talk with Dr. Michael Smith, MD. Here's your host, Dr. Mike.

Dr. Mike: So, we're going to talk about the spectrum balance protocol diet. I'm here with Dr. Shauna Young. She is an expert in autism. She wrote a book called Erasing Autism: The Spectrum Balance Protocol and we've been talking about this imbalance between iron and manganese which I find very interesting.

Recently, Dr. Young and I did a show and I even did a lecture here in South Florida on some of the latest theories of autism and autism spectrum disorders. In one of those leading theories now is in-utero inflammation and they're looking at different types of infections. They're looking at auto-immune disorders in the mom and how that influences anti-inflammatory proteins. So, what do you think about just improving the diet of a pregnant woman? What do you think that's going to do down the line for reducing autism?

Dr. Shauna: Well, I think it's absolutely viable. It only makes sense if you think about it. But the unfortunate case with manganese is that manganese is one of the minerals that concentrates in the umbilical cord.

So, if the mom is getting a high level of manganese - she's a 140-150% getting an excess of manganese. It's concentrating in the umbilical cord and her baby that's developing is the size of the sea monkey or something right now is getting this huge overload of manganese. I ordered one of the fanciest pre-natal vitamins that's on the market. You know, one of the most respected and expensive and everything else and it has a massive overload of manganese. So, if the mom is getting 150%, let's say of the daily requirement, then the baby is getting about a 300% overdose.4

Dr. Mike: What is about manganese and the umbilical cord? Why do you say it's concentrated so much there?

Dr. Shauna: There is just certain minerals that concentrate in and are able to cross the blood-brain barrier for a developing child and manganese is just one of those minerals. So, I'm actually finding that any supplementation that has manganese sometimes can be too much. Some people are more sensitive to it than others, just like more people are sensitive to...

Dr. Mike: Let me just...Doctor, let's make sure the listeners are understanding that we're not talking about magnesium.

Dr. Shauna: No.

Dr. Mike: I know I lot of the lay population get these two mixed up. We're talking about manganese which is a totally different mineral, right?

Dr. Shauna: Correct. And not...I'm glad you made that distinction because people send me emails a lot saying magnesium. No, I'm not talking about magnesium. It's manganese.

Dr. Mike: So, you came up with what is called the spectrum balance protocol diet. Why don't you just describe that for my listeners?

Dr. Shauna: Okay. It's a non-processed food diet. There's an enormous amount of food that you can have and it's not restricted. You're not going to have to run to your dictionary to figure out what any of these foods are. You can get it at any grocery store.

But it takes out grain, rice, anything that contains phytate, and also some really common foods for children like pineapple and blueberries. Things like that. But it's amazing how often those are put in the children's food and those are very, very high in manganese.

So, what the diet is are things that are higher in iron and then low...We are trying to eliminate as much of the manganese as we can. It's a weird thing because there are foods like spinach. Spinach has a lot of iron in it but it also has a lot of manganese but it seems that when you're eating it in a balanced fashion, the iron does absorb. It's when you're eating the phytates and getting rid of the iron that you're not achieving balance.

Dr. Mike: So, like the spinach with the grains would not be a good combination then.

Dr. Shauna: Correct. Then you would then be absorbing the manganese and not the iron.

Dr. Mike: Let me ask a question about the grains, though. Because that word grains is becoming more just like an umbrella term for lots of different things, right? Maybe we need to define what that is. What do you mean by grain?

Dr. Shauna: Well, primarily wheat. And that's like it's in everything. But anything that you would make bread out of. Wheat, oat, barley, all of those things. Those are all going to be - anything that contains phytates like that and that's the more--like you said it's kind of becoming a more non-specific term. So, I do understand that.

Dr. Mike: These compounds, what were they called again? The phylates or is that what you were saying? These chemical compounds with...

Dr. Shauna: Phytates.

Dr. Mike: Phytates. Are they also in the legumes, beans, seeds, that kind of stuff, too, or is it just mainly the grains?

Dr. Shauna: They are also in the legumes and that's why a lot of people...peanut is a weird word because it sounds like a nut but it's not. It's actually a legume. And so, that's why we take all of those out for the time being.

Dr. Mike: Okay so this is the phytic acid, the phytates. I looked it up real quick. It's a storage form of phosphorous in a lot of plant tissues, grains, bran, seeds. Okay. There you go. I just had to jog my memory there. Okay. So, let's go back to the diet. So, who needs this diet? I mean when do you suggest this for a child?

Dr. Shauna: Well, this is for...I suggest a phytate-free diet for everyone. I think if everybody takes just completely grains out of their food. I haven't eaten grains in like ten years myself so it's certainly not impossible but anybody that is having...anytime that you're not feeling 100%. For example, I was just buying a car the other day and I'm talking to the salesman and he starts telling me how worried he is about his son because he's not catching on in school. He's nine years old and he's not really getting it and he's getting very frustrated. His social skills are getting pretty feeble. All these kinds of things. So, he started his son on the diet three days ago--I actually just heard from him this morning--and he says that he's definitely seeing something changing. That even in just a short period of time he noticed that his focus is little better this morning. He's running around doing things.

Dr. Mike: Do you think he started his son like just all...eliminated the grains completely or do you think he started maybe just eliminating some? Is there a process? I guess here's the question. When I start this diet, does it have to be all or none or can I do this slowly?

Dr. Shauna: No. There is no such thing as slow on this protocol, unfortunately. 90% sticking to it will yield usually zero result. The problem is...

Dr. Mike: So, you've got to really go for this.

Dr. Shauna: You better go for it. You better run at it. And what he did for example is, he spent like a week getting rid of everything, finishing off the food that they had in the house and then they just re-shopped. And when they had it, they started it because the grain is the main thing. I have had some kids that they cheated on other things but they didn't do grains and they still have results. But the grains get chelates that iron and you've got to have the iron to get the results of this protocol.

Dr. Mike: So, what about the picky kids? The picky eaters. That's really tougher. Do you happen to have any suggestions?

Dr. Shauna: They're just like puppies. When they get hungry they're going to eat and sometimes it's so hard on parents that...The longest one that I ever had go without eating was a five year old girls and she went for five days. And every time they put food down in front of her she...What her mom said was she hockey pucked it. She just took a hold of it and threw it off the table because it wasn't what she wanted. But on the fifth day when they put the scrambled eggs out in front of her, it was spinach but she was hungry and she ate. And that was the beginning. And within about three months we were looking at re-diagnosis.

Dr. Mike: We really have about thirty seconds left here. So, the multivitamins. More and more kids are taking multis. So, should we be doing manganese-free multis? Is there a nice ratio between iron and manganese you'd like to see in these products?

Dr. Shauna: I wouldn't give a child anything that has manganese in them, quite frankly. Because there's too much of a9 risk. And I'm not a vitamin taker anyway. I take enzymes and then I get my vitamins from my food.

Dr. Mike: Got you. Alright the website is Dr. Shauna Young wrote a book called Erasing Autism: The Spectrum Balance Protocol. Go check that out.

This is Healthy Talk on Radio MD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.