Pro-inflammatory Food and Mood Swings for Individuals with ASD

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive patterns of behavior. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have co-morbid anxiety, mood swings, and gastrointestinal tract issues.
Lots of research affirms that inflammation significantly affects mood, and a critical relationship exists between food and elevated body inflammation. A recent study published in the National Library of Medicine found a high Empirical Dietary Inflammatory Index (EDII) score was associated with increased concentrations of circulating plasma inflammatory markers.

Pro-inflammatory foods are those that can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, such as red and processed meat, refined carbohydrates, sugary snacks, foods high in trans fats, eggs, and sweetened beverages. Consumption of these foods has been associated with increased levels of pro-inflammatory markers in the body, which can contribute to chronic inflammation. Furthermore, those foods that are low in fiber may result in constipation, which will create more inflammation by reabsorbing toxins and disturbing the gut microbiota, which will negatively impact mood.

Research studies have found that individuals with autism often have higher levels of pro-inflammatory markers compared to typically developing individuals. Additionally, some studies have reported a correlation between inflammation and behavioral symptoms in individuals with autism, including mood swings. One study published in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorder found that children with autism who had elevated levels of pro-inflammatory markers also exhibited more severe behavioral symptoms, such as irritability and mood swings.

However, it’s important to consider that mood swings can have multifactorial causes in autism. Nevertheless, adopting a healthy diet that focuses on reducing pro-inflammatory foods and increasing consumption of anti-inflammatory foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, incorporating fermented foods, and avoiding processed foods may have potential benefits for overall well-being and be important in regulating mood in an autistic individual.


Written by:
Dr. Hidaia Alnajjar
Pharmacist Incharge – Certified Life Coach