Autism Awareness Month – Why a Gluten Free/Casein Free Diet Works for Many
The United States recognizes April as Autism Awareness Month and as a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. You probably know a family facing this daunting condition, or you are one.
Please take a moment to answer the following poll about your experience with autism and a gluten free/casein free diet. You can click “View Results” at any time to see how the voting is going. Keep reading to see why it works for many.
Should you try a Gluten Free diet with your child on the autism spectrum? Read on.
Click here to read the amazing story of Noah, a small child who had lost all communication before going on a GFCF diet.
WHY does it work in some?
In this informative article, “Can a Gluten Free Diet Help Autism?,” by Dr. Karima Hirani, MD MPH, (Board Certified in Family Medicine, Integrative Medicine, and Nutritionist), explains why a gluten free/casein free diet is effective in relieving some symptoms faced by 3 out of 4 of her autistic patients. Hirani recommends that you try the diet for at least 3 months in order to give it a chance. (You should consider including your doctor in the decision before you make any major diet changes.) I’m not a scientist, but I’ve heard so many of say how the Gluten Free/Casein Free Diet has drastically helped their autistic child, so I’ll let the author do much of the talking on the reasons why this may diet should helps most of her autistic patients.
The first reason Hirani cites is the improved immune response to the diet. “Jyonouchi H, published a study in 2001 in the journal of Neuroimmunology showing proinflammatory and regulatory cytokine production associated with innate and adaptive immune response in children with autism spectrum disorders and developemental regression.” Some report as many as 91% of the patients with ASD who were put on the strict GFCF diet improve.
A second reason the GFCF diet works is at the allergy level. According to the article, “Lucarelli S, in 1995 in Panminera Medical Journal showed that italian autistic kids were evaluated for milk related antibodies and response to milk elimination as compared to 20 control children. Higher antibody levels to milk proteins in the autistic population and a marked improvement in the behavioural symptoms of autistic patients after a 2 month milk elimination diet. In my practice almost every child does a food antibody test especially to wheat and dairy and over 60% of them are allergic to these proteins.”
A third reason why the diet maybe working for some kids, according to Hirani, is at the enzyme level. Several studies support the fact that the enzyme DPPIV which digests gluten and casein may not be working well in kids on the ASD. Hence, when children ingest these proteins, instead of being appropriately broken down or digested, these proteins are converted into opiod like proteins and have an opium like effect. This could explain why these children are in their own world. Reichelt Kl in 1981 in the journal of Advanced Biochemistry and Psychopharmacology showed biologically active peptide-containing fractions in shizophrenia and childhood autism. Negri L in 1998 in the British Journal of Pharmacology, showed glycodermophrins: opiod peptides with potent and prolonged analgesic activity and enhanced blood-brain barrier penetration.“ (Read the study abstract here if you are interest in more scientific reasoning on this.)
The Autism Society of America takes the position that “Individuals with ASD may exhibit low tolerance or allergies to certain foods or chemicals. While not a specific cause of autism, these food intolerances or allergies may contribute to behavioral issues. “
“Research in the U.S. and England has found elevated levels of certain peptides in the urine of children with ASD, suggesting the incomplete breakdown of peptides from foods that contain gluten and casein. Gluten is found in wheat, oats and rye, and casein in dairy products. The incomplete breakdown and the excessive absorption of peptides may cause disruption in biochemical and neuroregulatory processes in the brain, affecting brain functions.”
The Autism Society recommends removing gluten and casein from the diets of children with Autism.
If you have experience with autism and a gluten free/casein free diet, please tell your story below.