Understanding the Role of Nutrition in Autism: Insights from Dr. Sushma Appaiah’s Talk

Dr. Sushma Appaiah, a renowned Nutrition Counselor and the Founder of Golz-Nutrition & Diet Solutions delivered an empowering talk to parents on May 5th, 2023, at Asha Kiran Hospital in Mysore. The session focused on educating parents of special children, specifically those with autism, about the nutritional requirements for their kids. Dr. Appaiah shed light on the influence of various foods on hyperactivity,on gut health and recommended food groups to include and avoid. This talk highlighted the importance of age-specific balanced nutrition in the rehabilitation and mainstreaming of children with autism. The role of nutrition is mostly neglected during the rehabilitation of children with hyperactivity/autism.
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Key Points Covered:

Autism: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. It is a spectrum disorder with varying symptoms and severity levels. Individuals with autism may struggle with social cues, and conversation, and have specific interests. Combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to development of autism, however precise contributory factors causing autism is not well established.With early intervention and professional support, individuals with autism can lead meaningful lives.

Impact of Autism: The impact of autism can vary widely depending on the individual and their specific strengths and challenges. Here are some common areas where autism can have an impact

Social Interaction | Communication | Sensory Sensitivities | Repetitive Behaviors and Restricted Interests | Executive Functioning | Education and Employment | Mental Health and Well-being |

It’s important to note that while autism presents challenges, individuals with autism also possess unique strengths, talents, and perspectives. With appropriate support, interventions, and inclusive environments, individuals with autism can thrive and make valuable contributions to society.

According to a report by ETHealthWorld, about 18 million people in India are diagnosed with autism. About 1 to 1.5 percent of children aged two to nine years are diagnosed with ASD.Covid -19 also has added impact on children”s overall development.

Understanding the Link between Nutrition and Autism:

Dr. Appaiah emphasized the connection between nutrition and autism, explaining how certain dietary factors can impact the behavior and development of children with autism.The dietary choices plays crucial role in rehabilitation and improving overall immunity. She discussed how nutritional interventions can play a significant role in managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Addressing Hyperactivity through Nutrition:

The session delved into the role of specific foods in managing hyperactivity in children with autism. Dr. Appaiah shared insights on how certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, and magnesium, can help regulate brain function and reduce hyperactive behavior.

Recommended Foods to Include:

Dr. Appaiah highlighted the importance of including nutrient-dense foods in the diet of children with autism. She suggested incorporating foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as sources of lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. These foods can support brain health, enhance cognitive function, and provide essential nutrients for optimal development.

Foods to Avoid:

The talk also addressed foods that may exacerbate symptoms in children with autism. Dr. Appaiah discussed the potential impact of certain additives, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods on behavior and recommended minimizing their consumption. Additionally, she highlighted the importance of identifying and managing any food sensitivities or allergies that could contribute to behavioral issues. Overcoming  Gluten and lactose intolerance among autism children improves their gut health and neuro-transmission.

Importance of Right Nutrition in Rehabilitation and Mainstreaming:

Dr. Appaiah stressed that proper nutrition plays a vital role in the rehabilitation and mainstreaming of children with autism. She discussed how a well-balanced diet can support overall health, boost cognitive abilities, improve mood, and enhance social interaction skills, aiding in the child’s overall development and integration into society.


Dr. Sushma Appaiah’s interactive session at Asha Kiran Hospital in Mysore provided valuable insights into the specific nutritional requirements for children with autism. By addressing the role of various foods on hyperactivity, recommending foods to include and avoid, and emphasizing the importance of appropriate nutrition in rehabilitation and mainstreaming, she equipped parents and healthcare professionals with the knowledge needed to support children with autism in their journey toward improved well-being and quality of life. Periodic nutrition assessments and customised food plans are vital in rehabilitation.

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