Autism and Gluten Free Diet - Does It Really Work?
Autism is a
disorder that affects children and
leads to difficulties with
communicating and interacting in
social situations. In order to
combat Autism, parents of children
with this disorder often turn to
alternative treatments for a
solution. One alternative treatment
is the gluten free, casein free
diet, which some parents claim has
helped to decrease the symptoms of
autism in their child.
The gluten free, casein free diet, also known as GFCF,
involves eliminating all sources of gluten and casein from the diet. The belief
is that these two components, which are found in many foods, are causing an
allergic reaction in the child with autism and exacerbating their symptoms. By
eliminating gluten and casein from the diet, the parents hope to see an
improvement in the symptoms of autism.
there is no conclusive evidence that following a GFCF diet will result in an
improvement of autism symptoms, many parents still decide to try. The theory is
that children with autism do not process the peptides and proteins found in
foods with gluten and casein the same as everyone else. Because of this
difference, it is believed that the body reacts by treating these proteins like
“false opiate” chemicals, resulting in certain behaviors in the autistic child.
Eliminating gluten and casein from the diet can be difficult
because they are present in so many different foods. Gluten is typically found
in many grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Many baked goods also contain
gluten because it works well as a binding agent. Casein on the other hand is
typically found in dairy and soy products. While it may seem difficult to avoid
all of these products, it is possible with careful planning and knowledge. Many
supermarkets and specialty stores for example now have entire sections devoted
to gluten free products.
It is important to remember that when children are put on a
GFCF diet, they are going to be missing out on key nutrients and vitamins.
However, these deficiencies can often be made up with the use of supplements so
that the child remains healthy. Parents who are interested in placing their
autistic child on a GFCF diet should always consult with their child’s physician
and a licensed dietician in order to be sure the planned diet meets all of their
child’s nutritional requirements, otherwise this can lead to additional health