Hi! I’m Jennifer Depew, a Registered Dietitian. Thanks for stopping by.
This site shares topics that I have found helpful or interesting in my own struggle with autoimmune disease and with some other health issues that I have had all my life. Recently a genetic screening revealed that I have several genetic defects that are commonly found in people on the autism spectrum. Making some changes in my diet and supplements based on the specific defects helped me feel better and concentrate more easily. However while genetic defects may be common among patients with an autism spectrum diagnosis they are not part of the diagnostic criteria which is based on mental health symptoms. I don’t have a diagnosis of autism. My behavioral symptoms were not considered ‘clinically significant’ of autism in a psychological assessment.
The information is being shared for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use which requires there be no fees charged for the information. I believe that we all have a right to seek our own answers and solutions in our “pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.” However the information on this website is not intended to provide personal health guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care services.
I am a public health nutrition counselor with fifteen years of work experience in the field of prenatal and early child health. I have also had training and experience as a lactation educator, providing education and support for prenatal clients and their newborn infants. Nursing an infant is one of those skills like riding a bicycle, you don’t forget how once you learn, but the newborn also needs to learn and it is a little more work than suckling from a bottle, so even experienced moms may need some help with a new baby.
I am not currently working as I have an autoimmune disease that affects my mental health at times. Autoimmune disease, autism spectrum disorders, and genetic defects known to cause nutrient deficiencies are also research interests as well as personal concerns for me.
Viewing health as a daily choice of small decisions may help motivate us to be more active in our own care rather than waiting for a major problem to send us to the doctor or hospital. Exercising regularly, eating vegetables and other healthy foods, and a good night’s sleep can all help arm the body from within to better cope and recover from accidents or infections. Healthy habits also can help the body’s defenses to stop cancerous changes from ever getting past the pre-cancerous stages.
The well defended body on a daily basis identifies and disposes of old, damaged, or infected cells – but it needs all of the nutrients in order to be able to do so.
Trusting in luck or fate or other factors to protect health may not be as helpful as respecting mothers’ traditional advice; such as our need to eat vegetables every day and to wear a scarf, hat and gloves on cold days. All disease and sickness cannot be prevented. And providing health recommendations isn’t about placing blame on individuals for getting sick but is just about possibly preventing sickness and healthy habits can certainly make a difference in helping the body to survive and recover from many types of illness.
Political policies regarding the nutritional care of our nation also became a concern as the increased rate of chronic illness in the U.S. may be in part due to multiple nutrient deficiencies combined with too much intake of some other nutrients, food additives and pollutants. Health requires all of the nutrients in amounts that are in balance with each other and are able to work together in complex chemical reactions. Excess amounts of some nutrients can interfere with the function of other nutrients and may cause deficiency symptoms of the nutrient that is being interfered with even though some of the nutrient may be present.
Healthy lifestyle habits, most days of the week, can help both people of good health to maintain their health and may help those with chronic illnesses to get better or to at least slow down the progression of the illness. Healthy choices don’t have to be viewed as never being allowed to have old favorites again. Small changes over time can help protect health and build a new habit into a daily routine. It takes about three weeks, 21 days, performing a new activity to help turn it into a habit. Paying attention can help build new habits, read more here.
My personal quest for health has led me to research that strongly suggests that adequate vitamin D levels are essential to help protect the fetus from developing changes that increase the later life risk of neurological conditions such as autism or autoimmune disease. And having adequate vitamin D levels prenatally also may help to protect the expectant mother from developing autoimmune disease later in her life. Health strategies that help protect the mother and developing fetus are also generally protective for people of all ages. Submitting my findings to a peer-reviewed medical journal is my goal. That may take me some time, in the meantime sharing information online may be of help to some individual patients or to research students or other professionals.
Pain hurts and it takes attention away from the better things in life.
Healthy habits can help prevent chronic problems from developing in the first place or help restore wellness if chronic illness is already a problem. Good nutrition can help the body defend itself from precancerous cells before they become cancerous or help remove toxins before they collect and cause damage.
Steps that help some conditions are likely to help most but sometimes specialized nutrition support in the form of supplements or a focused effort to eat more of foods that are known to be good sources if there are underlying genetic differences that place limits on normal digestion or the metabolism of essential nutrients or of chemicals that wouldn’t be considered essential if normal metabolism was functioning normally. When that is the case many varied symptoms can get much better as long as the missing nutrient is eaten daily as food or a supplement.
People with autism or anyone with unusual symptoms that existed most of their life may be able to improve their health if the symptoms are due to genetic changes in metabolism or digestion that lead to the person needing an increased amount of some specialized supplements that the average person with normal metabolism and digestion would be able to get from their food. If the body can’t properly digest certain important nutrients then providing a supplement of the nutrient can make an enormous difference in the person’s symptoms – for that specific individual with that specific genetic difference.
Reducing exposure to some toxins that can be common in the modern environment can also help protect the infant from neurological conditions such as ADHD and autism.
There seems to be several nutrient deficiencies in addition to vitamin D involved in an increased risk for autism and other neurological conditions and several environmental toxins and several genetic differences also seem to be involved — each person with autism seems to be somewhat unique in their range of symptoms and underlying genetic differences, nutritional needs, and environmental risks which makes studying the “diagnosis” or looking for a “single cause” difficult if not impossible. Complicated problems don’t mean impossible though – it just makes the solutions longer.
Information is shared for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. It is not intended to provide personal health guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care services.