I often counsel patients in my holistic chiropractic practice to make changes in their diet to help balance their health. Wheat/gluten, dairy and sugar are the three biggest problem-creators in my patients’ diets. This can be especially true for my patients with autism.
There is growing interest in the link between autism and gastrointestinal (GI) ailments. A study by the University of California Davis Health System found that children with autism born in the 1990s were more likely to have gastrointestinal problems, including constipation, diarrhea and vomiting, than autistic children who were born in the early 1980s.
According to one theory, some people with autism cannot properly digest gluten and casein, which form peptides, or substances that act like opiates in their bodies. The peptides then alter the person’s behavior, perceptions, and responses to his environment. Some scientists now believe that peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in certain people.
Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye, barley, bulgur, durum, kamut and spelt, and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and artificial colors and flavors.
Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk, such as cheese, cream, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whey and even some brands of margarine.
This is what I recommend to my patients with the diagnosis of autism:
- First, eliminate all dairy from their diet. Substitute almond milk instead of their regular milk.
- Next, eliminate the foods and products that contain gluten—wheat, oats, barley, rye, and spelt are the most commonly found.
- Grains that CAN be eaten on a gluten-free diet include rice, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat, millet and any other gluten-free grains.
- Eliminate corn from the diet. Corn tends to be inflammatory in nature and many children diagnosed with autism seem to be allergic or have a sensitivity to corn.
- Avoid GMO (genetically modified organism) foods. Some studies show that there is a connection between GMO foods and incidences of autism. GMO foods may also put added stress on the immune system.
- No added sugar.
- No artificial coloring or flavoring.
- Gluten-free, casein-free foods that CAN be eaten: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs and beans.
Some parents, doctors and researchers say that children have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior after these substances were removed from their diet.
In my office, parents have reported back to me that there have been positive and often remarkable changes in their child’s behavior once these dietary changes have been made!