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What is Autism?
Autism is a brain development disorder characterised by socially detached behaviour, impairment of language and restricted and repetitive behaviour. Its occurrence has surged in recent years and one possible explanation for the neuro-developmental problems seen in autistic individuals is early exposure to toxins or a virus which over-stimulates an immune response. It is highly likely that this autoimmune response interferes with the development of myelin – the protective fatty acid layer which protects our nerves through the production of auto-antibodies directly targeted to myelin. If myelin in the brain doesn"t develop properly, nerve fibers aren’t able to function properly.

How fatty acids help
Fatty acids offer two principal benefits in alleviating the symptoms of autism. The first relates to the insulating myelin sheath which protects important nerve fibres, which are crucial for maintaining efficient signalling in the brain. When electrical signals slow down, brain function can become impaired. By supplementing the diet with the omega-3 fatty acid EPA, it helps to rebuild the protective fatty acid layer surround nerve fibres, to allow efficient signalling.

Secondly, autistic children tend to have elevated levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, high levels of which are associated with an overactive immune system and excess inflammation. EPA directly promotes the production of anti-inflammatory leukotrienes to counteract inflammatory leukotrienes which target areas of inflammation and help to restore balance.

By providing EPA without DHA (known to directly compete with the eicosanoids for enzymes), this allows the body to convert the EPA into DHA as and when the body needs it, without interfering with the healthy production of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.

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