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Autism and Diet

By Rachel Evans

Autism can be a particularly difficult condition to deal with as a parent. It involves making sacrifices, changing your lifestyle, and exploring a variety of methods that can help reduce the intense social anxiety that is linked to this condition.

One of the least recognized ways to deal with autism is through the adoption of a specialized diet.

There is so much ongoing research into autism from the scientific and behavioral standpoint that dietary factors are sometimes overlooked or just ignored.

In reality, however, some parents of autistic children have noticed a strong connection between autism and diet for many years. Today, there is a growing body of research that is starting to back up this observation.
This new way of thinking has led to the creation of the gluten and casein free diet. You may be wondering how gluten and casein affect children with autism?

Researchers have discovered that some autistic people may have difficulty processing the proteins - gluten and casein. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and oats and casein is a type of milk protein.

What happens is that the breakdown of these foods in the body causes opiates to be produced, so in essence, children with autism can become addicted to foods containing these proteins. The result is that like an food allergy, behavior can be effected.

Take note of what your child chooses to eat. If your child constantly eats products containing dairy and wheat, then this can be a sign that there bodies are struggling to process these foods and therefore, they crave more.

Of course, the child does not understand what is going on physically, he or she only realizes that eating such foods produces a pleasurable feeling.

Get More Information on Natural Remedies for Autism and other PDDs

There have been many reports of autistic children showing vast improvement after making wholesale dietary changes. This means getting away from products that contain gluten and casein.

Of course, it is best to take away one source of food at a time to lessen the shock of change. Experts recommend removing dairy products first, and then forming a plan to introduce a totally gluten-free diet.

It is important, as a parent of an autistic child, that you become a devout label-reader. Oftentimes, there are gluten and casein proteins that are not obvious!

Planning a gluten and casein free diet is not an easy task. Fortunately, many autistic children come to enjoy their new diets in a short period of time and will actually begin to try different foods.

Planning out a proper diet is extremely important and it is probably a good idea for you to consult with a nutritionist. You may need to get certain vitamins for your child in order to make their diet healthy as well as reducing some of the symptoms of autism.

Again, many vitamin products are actually made with gluten, so it is important to select products that do not include this protein. The best place to find these kinds of supplements are health and natural food stores. They usually have a tremendous selection of gluten and casein free products.

Many food products exist that are gluten and casein free. They are available at supermarkets, organic grocery stores, and other specialty locations. Some of the products are slightly more expensive than regular groceries of the same variety, but the difference in price can be worth it if your child’s behavior improves.

If you are skeptical about the affect of diet on autism it is completely understandable. But recent research has indicated that it is very likely food can affect behavior in autistic persons.

Since these findings are relatively new, even your doctor might not be aware of the possible link. Eliminating these proteins from your child’s diet will not cause any damage or increase the symptoms of autism. There is no risk involved with trying a diet that could actually be incredibly effective in easing symptoms of autism.

Rachel Evans. For information and to signup for a Free Newsletter about Autism please visit The Essential Guide to Autism
Note from Jean

Here is a good book which is really useful and which exposes the link between learning disabilities, the food and drink we take and the condition of our digestive systems.

Written by Dr.Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci(neurology),MMedSci(nutrition)the book sumarises the connection between psychiatric and neurological disorders and gastrointestinal function. It is full of valuable and interesting facts that can be used to optimise health especially for those suffering from autism.
More from Rachel

Many health practitioners believe that an autism diet may be beneficial treatment.

The reason is because most autistics have distorted immune response which causes their body to respond abnormally to certain types of food, viruses and toxins.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon for many autistics to suffer from gastrointestinal inflammation and other intestinal disorders. It is thought that these intestinal problems might decrease the body’s ability to absorb specific essential nutrients.

Thus, by following a diet and other alternative treatment methods, certain abilities and overall health may be improved in an autistic individual.

The following are 4 autism diets you may want to consider –

Gluten and Casein Free Diet

Gluten and Casein are both proteins found in many foods which some autistics have a hard time digesting. Gluten occurs in wheat, oat and rye products, while casein is found in human milk, cow milk and many other dairy products. Both of these proteins are also in the ingredients of many medications.

Research has discovered that abnormally high level of specific peptides related to gluten and casein have been found in the urine of autistic children.

This could mean that these proteins are not being effectively broken down into amino acids, and this over-absorption of peptide can actually affect brain function. Thus, by removing gluten and casein from the autism diet, this will prevent further gastrointestinal and neurological damage from occurring.

Yeast- Free Diet

Some research is based on the belief that some autistics have high levels of candida albicans (a type of yeast that occurs naturally in the body) in their intestinal tract.

A candida overgrowth in the intestines can cause “leaky gut” syndrome, a condition that causes tiny holes in the intestinal tract. The yeast grows fast and releases toxins in the bloodstream which has the potential to affect brain functioning.

In fact, aside from causing stomach distress, it is thought by some that a candida overgrowth can cause a number of behavioural difficulties such as fatigue, confusion and hyperactivity.

Candida can be controlled naturally through an anti-candida (yeast) diet or with essential oils. In short, an anti-yeast diet involves cutting out all natural and artificial sugars, caffeine, most diary products, preservatives and, of course, yeast products (I.E. bread).

Specific Carbohydrate Diet

This is a science based autism diet, and it involves the cessation of ingesting specific carbohydrates (sugars and starches) that have been found to cause problems within the digestive tract.

In addition, carbohydrates are small enough that they can slip by the surface of the small intestine into the blood stream, and can cause abnormal brain function.

This diet limits the amount of carbohydrates ingested and slowly adds them back once the intestinal tract has had time to heal.

Body Ecology Diet (BED)

This particular diet used to treat autism was originally created to treat systemic fungal infections typically caused by Candida overgrowth. It has been used to treat the inflammatory bowel diseases ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, as well as a number of autoimmune diseases and AIDS. Like the other autism diets, the BED works to heal the gastrointestinal system and prevent future infections.

The BED diet involves eliminating gluten and casein from the diet as well as drastically limiting bad fats, carbohydrates and sugars.

It is best to talk to your child’s health care provider to find out which autism diet would be the best course of treatment.

It is also important to have your doctor monitor your child’s condition while on a diet reatment. This way you can ask any questions or concerns you may have about the autism diets, and to ensure your child is receiving the sufficient nutrients his/her body requires.