Probiotics may prevent ADHD and Autism according to recent studies

Probiotics may prevent ADHD and Autism according to recent studies

Probiotics can prevent ADHD and Autism

Probiotics are live bacteria that can help people who suffer from autism and ADHD. When probiotics are administered in an adequate amount, it can benefit the host such as the human being, this is according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011.

The concept of probiotics was started by Dr. Elie Metchnikoff in 1907. When Dr. Metchnikoff came to Bulgaria, Europe, he found out that the natives can live up to old ages despite poverty and poor weather conditions. He figured out that their health condition could be because of the bacteria found in sour milk.

Dr. Metchnikoff discovered that the sour milk has been fermented and a bacteria which he later named as ‘Lactobacillus Bulgaricus’ has grown. That said milk has anti-aging benefits which made the natives live longer than the richer European families.

The study about these microorganisms became popular and further investigation was made by other scientists. Traditional fermented products like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi have been discovered as well to include probiotics.

Meanwhile, the first commercially produced probiotic was the Yakult. It is a fermented milk with ‘Lactobacillus Casei.’ Yakult was created at Shirota, Japan in 1935 and it spread throughout the world. Apart from milk and yogurt, there are non-dairy products available in the market such as snack bars and cereals with probiotics. In addition, probiotics are also available in vitamins and food supplements.

These live microorganisms can regulate blood pressure, boost the immune system, prevent respiratory infections, help one lose weight, solve urinary tract infection, reduce diarrhea and stop irritable bowel movement. It can also help solve skin problems such as eczema, lessen tooth decay, decrease baby colic, and improve psychological health.

Amazingly, studies show that taking up probiotics can help prevent and regulate ADHD and autism. We will find out in this article how true are those claims:

Understanding probiotics’ benefits to ADHD

What is ADHD

According to Dr. Axe, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are behavioral and neurological conditions. People with ADHD can be impulsive. They have excessive energy but they can experience difficulty in concentrating and even from sitting still.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the onset of ADHD is 7 years old however, it can continue from teenage years to adulthood. They also said that the number of people with ADHD is increasing through time. In America alone, about 6 million children have ADHD according to Dr. Perl Mutter.

Meanwhile, according to the Fayyad et al in 2004, the estimates of ADHD prevalence in adult among 10 countries in Europe, America, and the Middle East is 3.4%.

Cause of ADHD

Genetics, as well as several environmental factors, are one of the causes of ADHD. In addition, researchers attribute this condition with the lifestyle that we have such as the food we eat. Food like artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and others can also increase the risk and worsen the symptoms of ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the symptoms of ADHD for children are the following:

  • Cannot concentrate, easily distracted, and has little focus
  • Bores easily and is impatient
  • Has difficulty focusing, completing, or organizing tasks
  • Has difficulty in listening and following instructions
  • Squirming and fidgeting often
  • Has difficulty in being quiet or remaining still
  • Can’t remember to put things and loses them

Meanwhile, these are the common symptoms of ADHD with the adults:

  • Has overwhelming physical and emotional restlessness
  • Experiences mood swings frequently, thus always prone to anger
  • Disorganized
  • Cannot tolerate surrounding, situations, and people
  • Cannot stay in a relationship
  • High chance of addiction

Treatment for ADHD

Stimulant medications are one treatment for ADHD although it has side effects. Many people who suffer from ADHD choose medication as a treatment but 30% of them don’t see that their symptoms even improve.

Meanwhile, parents and family members of those who suffer from ADHD choose an integrative approach in addressing the issue, specifically by beginning at the gastrointestinal tract.

Benjamin Feingold believes that diet is important in addressing ADHD. In a book by Cook PS, Woodhill JM, the authors recommend eliminating food additives and those that have salicylates to improve the symptoms of ADHD. This diet plan also aims to remove foods that cause an allergic reaction.

A diet that is rich in fiber and is low in sugar can prevent the growth of yeast, but it is indeed a tough diet to sustain especially for the kids. Kids cannot always be on a strict diet because they are at risk of nutrient deficiencies which can hinder their growth and development.

Researches on Probiotics and ADHD

According to Dr. Michael Lyon, people with ADHD have high amounts of harmful bacteria versus good bacteria in their stomach. In Dr. Lyon’s research, adding probiotics to the diets of his patients will increase the good bacteria and decrease the symptoms of ADHD. For him, nutrition is the answer on ADHD and not drugs.

Meanwhile, in the ‘Alternative Medicine Review’ journal of 2003, the effects of probiotics and Ritalin has been compared. 10 children with ADHD took the Ritalin while the other 10 took the probiotics. The study has found out that probiotics have the same effect in treating the symptoms of ADHD as Ritalin.

A study has also found out that children who were administered with ‘Lactobacillus rhamnosus‘ from birth were less likely to have neuropsychiatric disorders like ADHD. Researchers have discovered that kids who took the Lactobacillus rhamnosus have more bifidobacteria species in their stool and they didn’t develop any neuropsychiatric disorders than those who were not given any probiotics.

Probiotics can also help prevent and eliminate the growth of Candida among the kids. Candida is a yeast in the intestines that can overgrow if the gastrointestinal (GI) tract flora is not in balance. Studies show that Candida causes various mental health disorders, one of which is ADHD.

Basically, the solution for ADHD is healing of the gastrointestinal tract through the use of probiotics. Doctors, scientists, nutritionists, and especially parents agree that good gut health means good mental health.

Children low in good bacteria have a higher chance of developing cognitive issues such as ADHD. By adding probiotic rich food into your child’s or adult’s diet, you can repair some of the damage that an unhealthy gut has caused in the functioning of the brain.

Understanding probiotics’ benefits to Autism

What is Autism

According to American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), autism is a kind of disability that is linked with development. Children who suffer from autism can experience communication, language, and social problems.

In the United States, 1 in every 68 children (1 in every 189 girls and 1 in every 42 boys) has autism according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, 50,000 teenagers who have autism become adults and lose services that are appropriate for their condition.

Moreover, one-third of those who have autism remains non-verbal and develops an intellectual disability. Researchers have also found out that autism is accompanied by several complications such as gastrointestinal disorders. According to Molloy, CA in 2003, people with autism have more digestive problems than other people. One out of four children with autism suffers symptoms of chronic gastrointestinal disorders based on Feingold‘s studies. In addition, people with autism have more Clostridia and Sutterella in their gut. This type of pathogenic bacteria is absent to those people without autism, according to Yuli Song (2004).

People with autism also experience sleep disturbances, seizures, ADHD, phobias, and anxiety, according to American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

People with autism can have problems socializing and connecting with other people. The child or the adult might have his own world and may experience difficulty in sharing a common focus with fellow men. Their feelings are hard to understand as well. Meanwhile, children with autism can experience difficulty in playing and sharing toys with other playmates. In addition, they might fear to make or even keep their circle of friends.

With regards to communication skills, people with autism can have difficulty with talking, understanding, reading, or writing. Those with autism can also lose the skills he had learned to use before. He can have difficulty in following direction, understanding gestures, using words, and creating conversations. In addition, those with autism might suffer hyperlexia, echolalia, and they might use tantrums to express what they wanted to say.

The behavioral pattern of those with autism is also unusual. They could have trouble changing from one activity to next. They clap their hands non-stop and they stare into the blank space most of the time.

Causes of Autism

Autism is generally accepted to be caused by abnormalities in the brain structure according to Autism Society. The shape and structure of the brain of those who have autism are different from those with neurotypical patients.

In some cases, genes are the determining factor for autism and other diseases. However, researchers are still continuing to prove what irregular segment of the genetic code can be the cause of ADHD among the people.

On the other hand, there are doctors who continue to investigate other genes that might interfere the development of the brain. Others believe that the cause of autism is pregnancy situation of mothers, environmental factors, viral infections, and exposure to chemicals.

In sum, doctors and researchers can’t determine yet the single cause of autism and they are still conducting further studies to support numerous theories including its linkage with genetics and environmental condition.

Treatment for Autism

According to American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), there is no single cure for autism. However, autism can be controlled.

For one, dietary restrictions can help decrease the symptoms of autism and this should begin when the child is still young. Intervention can start early and it can be at home and at school. The parents can devise a treatment plan that shall meet the needs of the child and the family. Treatment shall include therapies, behavioral interventions, and medication.

Researches of Probiotics and Autism

One of the most popular studies about probiotics and its benefits to treating autism was the study done by Professor Glenn Gibson in 2006 at University of Reading, at Berkshire, England. This study features positive changes in the patients with ADHD yet it was unfinished.

There are 40 children with autism ages 4 to 13 years old. The researchers have two groups which are the control and the trial group. The trial group took probiotics, specifically ‘Lactobacillus Plantarum’ for three weeks while the control group took the placebos. After three weeks, there shall be a switch in the group.

There’s a change in the children with ADHD at the trial group during the research, according to the parents. They have found out that they have better digestion, they are calmer, and they have better behavioral improvements. The parents decided to quit their children in the research because the results are so good. They don’t want to switch to using the placebo medicines for their children with ADHD.

In some studies, taking ‘Lactobacillus Reuteri’ can reduce lipopolysaccharide (LPS) intestinal inflammation. In a study by Buffington et al which aims to study behavioral patterns in autism, it has been found out that maternal diabetes has a link to having autism in the babies.

Thus, in the high-fat diet of the mothers, abnormal behavior is prevalent with the babies. Following this hypothesis, the authors show that by administering probiotics like ‘Lactobacillus Reuteri’, there can be an improvement of the antisocial behaviors of autistic children.


In the past years, there has been a growing interest in the use of probiotics with an intention to live healthy and illness-free. Probiotics are prevalent nowadays and companies are incorporating it into their products to make it accessible to the public. There are now probiotics available in our food, topical products, and even food supplements.

ADHD and autism have been one of the major problems the children experience throughout the world. They carry these disorders until they get old and there are no exact treatments to reverse the condition. In addition, there is no single cause for these disorders, however, the lifestyle, as well as the food we eat, are some of the triggering factors according to experts.

Hippocrates said all disease begins in the gut and it can be cured by focusing on the gut too. It is true that probiotics can help improve the gut system of an individual, but researchers still need to conduct more experiments on how effective it could be in solving and preventing ADHD and autism.