In 2020 the CDC reported that 1 in 54 children have been identified with ASD - autism spectrum disorder. Fever seems to create improvements in cognition and behavior. The question is whether food can mimic what fever does for the brain.
Sulforaphanes from cruciferous vegetables do exactly that, and more (Lui et al., 2020).
Observational studies have indicated that children with ASD show improved cognition and behavior right before, while they have fever, and at times, for a while after. Fever causes the brain to release heat shock proteins which then cause an improvement in synaptic transmission and brain connectivity (Gregor, 2021; Calabrese et al., 2016).
Other contributors to ASD are oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. The brain by its mere function produces free radicals, and yet the brain has few oxidant defense abilities. Studies have found children with ASD have diminished antioxidant defenses due to lower levels of Nrf2, which trigger the body’s antioxidant response and from there the body can activate repair, detox, and more. In the same way for children with autism, brain inflammation is chronic with over expression of NF-kappa-beta proteins (Gregor, 2021; Liu et al., 2016; Napoli et al., 2014).
Can Sulforaphanes from cruciferous vegetables upregulate heat shock proteins, exert antioxidation and anti-inflammation effect? The answer is yes.
Sulforaphanes from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables can boost the gene expression of heat shock proteins and induce naturally Nrf2 to create the necessary antioxidant chain reaction in the body. Sulforaphanes are natural anti-inflammatory agents and can penetrate the blood-brain barrier for its neuroprotective effect (Uddin et al., 2020).
- Calabrese, V., Giordano, J., Ruggieri, M., Berritta, D., Trovato, A., Ontario, M. L., ... & Calabrese, E. J. (2016). Hormesis, cellular stress response, and redox homeostasis in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of neuroscience research, 94(12), 1488-1498
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Gregor, M. (2021, March 25). Re: Fighting autism brain inflammation with food. Article
- Heiss, E., Herhaus, C., Klimo, K., Bartsch, H., & Gerhäuser, C. (2001). Nuclear factor κB is a molecular target for sulforaphane-mediated anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 276(34), 32008-32015.
- Liao, X., Liu, Y., Fu, X., & Li, Y. (2020). Postmortem Studies of Neuroinflammation in Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Systematic Review. Molecular Neurobiology, 57(8), 3424-3438.
- Liu, H., Zimmerman, A. W., Singh, K., Connors, S. L., Diggins, E., Stephenson, K. K., ... & Fahey, J. W. (2020). Biomarker exploration in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells for monitoring sulforaphane treatment responses in autism spectrum disorder. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-11.
- Liu, H., Talalay, P., & W Fahey, J. (2016). Biomarker-guided strategy for treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders), 15(5), 602-613.
- Napoli, E., Wong, S., Hertz-Picciotto, I., & Giulivi, C. (2014). Deficits in bioenergetics and impaired immune response in granulocytes from children with autism. Pediatrics, 133(5), e1405-e1410.
- Uddin, M. S., Al Mamun, A., Jakaria, M., Thangapandiyan, S., Ahmad, J., Rahman, M. A., ... & Aleya, L. (2020). Emerging promise of sulforaphane-mediated Nrf2 signaling cascade against neurological disorders. Science of the Total Environment, 707, 135624.
- Vargas, D. L., Nascimbene, C., Krishnan, C., Zimmerman, A. W., & Pardo, C. A. (2005). Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism. Annals of Neurology: Official Journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society, 57(1), 67-81.
- Zablotsky, B., Black, L. I., Maenner, M. J., Schieve, L. A., Danielson, M. L., Bitsko, R. H., ... & Boyle, C. A. (2019). Prevalence and trends of developmental disabilities among children in the United States: 2009–2017. Pediatrics, 144(4).
- Ruhee, R. T., & Suzuki, K. (2020). The integrative role of sulforaphane in preventing inflammation, oxidative stress and fatigue: A review of a potential protective phytochemical. Antioxidants, 9(6), 521.
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