Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Gluten Free Diet For Autism

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The Nemechek Protocol And Autism

Pros and Cons of Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets for Autism

The Nemechek Protocol for Autism and Developmental Delay is the most scientific and refined approach to reversing the devastating effects of autism, ADD, ADHD, SPD and the myriad of other developmental disorders.

Youre probably wondering what The Nemechek Protocol is. Basically, its a nutrition/supplement protocol consisting of fish oil, olive oil, Inulin fiber, and an emphasis on avoiding Omega 6 oils.

I am not a fan, however, of its claim that it can reverse autism. Its recommendations do not appear to stem from evidence-based science, relying on what seem to be anecdotes to make its case. Im all for giving our kiddos supplements, but you dont need to buy a book to do that.

As a whole, though Im not an expert, Im not against the nutrition in these autism diets. But you have to be careful with whats out there, to challenge claims that are too good to be valid, and to remember that the primary help your child needs should come in other, more direct ways. If youre concerned about your kiddos nutrition, a blood test from the doctor is the perfect way to learn what their body might be lacking. Physical health is essential, but remember, its just one component of a holistic view of health.

How To Build A Celiac Disease Diet To Control Your Symptoms

The best treatment for celiac is all about diet. Right now, avoiding gluten is the only treatment for celiac disease available, says Gerald Bertiger, MD, a gastroenterologist with Hillmont G.I. in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, who is also on the board of directors for the advocacy organization Beyond Celiac.

Because eating gluten even minute amounts of it can trigger a harmful reaction, people with celiac need to take special precautions to avoid it completely. Even small amounts of gluten, like in a seasoning, can cause sustained inflammation of the small intestine that can lead to symptoms down the road, explains Mukherjee.

Responses to a gluten-free diet vary depending on the person, she adds, with some people feeling immediate relief and others continuing to struggle for months. If you fall in the latter group, your doctor may want to investigate if youre also suffering from another disease that often coexists with celiac, like lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome , says Mukherjee. This is all an important part of the follow-up visit with your healthcare team.

Reduced Autism Behaviors Increased Social And Communication Skills With Gfcf Diet

This report reviewed existing scientific literature and found consistently positive results with a GFCF diet for autism. The literature included papers where groups of children were studied, as well as individual case studies.

Researchers found there was an overall reduction of autism behaviors, increased social skills, and communicative skills.

They also noted that autism traits reappeared after the diet had been broken.

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The Role Of Zonulin In Leaky Gut And Autism Spectrum Disorders

Gluten is known to trigger a protein called zonulin so that is an additional advantage of a gluten-free diet. What is so problematic with zonulin is that it modulates the permeability of the GI tract in humans. It has been shown to unzip the tight junctions causing leaky gut. Scientific research has shown zonulins link to gut permeability in autism and other chronic inflammatory disorders including cancer, neuroinflammation, autoimmune disorders, and metabolic issues.

Gut permeability can cause higher reactions to other food components for children with autism. As a result, your clients may see an increase in trouble concentrating, inflammation, diarrhea, constipation, and of course food allergies/intolerances. The brain cannot function optimally if the gut is unhealthy because of the gut-brain connection.

Individuals with ASD have a higher prevalence of gastrointestinal distress . Additionally, the severity of GI symptoms has been linked to autism symptom severity in a study by Dr. James Adams.

The study referenced above on zonulin from 2021 showed that children with severe autism had significantly higher serum zonulin than controls. This could be the missing link from Dr. Adams study in regards to the correlation between autism severity and GI severity! It may be related to increased permeability of the gut.

Children who follow a gluten-free diet have lower incidence of leaky gut than those children who do consume it.

Opiates From Gluten And Casein Impact The Brain In Autism

GFCF Diet for Autism

Certain long-chain peptides have a very similar structure to natural opioid-binding peptides. Gluten and casein are two of these proteins. Gliadorphin is the name of the opiate peptide formed during the incomplete or partial digestion of gluten, and casomorphin is the opiate peptide derived from dairy.

There can be a few reasons as to why these peptides enter the bloodstream. Firstly, the body requires adequate enzymes to break down these proteins effectively. Specifically the DPP-IV enzyme is required. It has been shown that children with autism have lower DPP-IV activity.

Leaky gut, a condition you may be very familiar with already, is another way these peptides can get into the bloodstream. Leaky gut, a condition where the intestinal lining becomes permeable, is common in autism. When these peptides get into the bloodstream, they can bind to opiate receptors in the brain, causing issues like high pain tolerance or a feeling of being disconnected or foggy. Many clients report that their child self-selects foods with gluten and/or dairy, often at the exclusion of other foods because of this opiate connection. Removing gluten and/or dairy can then result in withdrawal symptoms in the beginning. However, after removal of these foods from the body, some families report an improvement in restrictive eating!

Additional research on how opioids in foods impact individuals with autism:

  • Studies have linked A1 beta-casein from certain forms of dairy with autism and schizophrenia

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Gfcf And Keto Diets Improve Autism Symptoms

One study compared the GFCF diet to the Ketogenic diet for autism. Both diet groups had significant improvement in autism symptoms. There were some differencesone diet showed better results in behavior, while the other diet group had better scores for cognitive awareness and sociability. If you want to see more on this study, you can check out my GFCF vs. Keto write up. In summary, the results of this study showed that they are both good diets to improve symptoms of autism, depending on the individual needs of the person. And this study highlights another example of how the GFCF diet can benefit individuals with autism.

Synthesis Of Literature And Future Directions For Research

The interest of speciality diets in ASD, and particularly the GCFD, has increased markedly in the last 2 decades both in terms of adoption in the ASD community as well as scientific study. Research does convincingly demonstrate certain effects and associations which justify this. Most notably is a modest comorbidity between CD and ASD. Also shown is physiological evidence of inadequate digestion of gluten in people with ASD, leading to elevated exorphins/gluten antibodies around which reasonable hypotheses exist regarding downstream negative consequences on the central nervous system. Whether these associations are because of a unique relationship between CD and ASD or because of a predisposition in people with ASD to have a generally higher rate of autoimmune-like features, is yet to be resolved. Further research which directly examines the effects of these gluten products is needed in people with ASD, while additional studies examining shared genetic predispositions would also be warranted and beneficial. There is also a scarcity of epidemiological research characterising the comorbidity of ASD and CD while one very well powered study does exist and supports this to be the case replication elsewhere is desirable. The availability of newer gluten-related antibodies and the use of native antigliadin antibodies that are known to be sensitive to the whole spectrum of gluten-related disorders, may provide a good opportunity for further large scale epidemiological studies.

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X Developmental Age And 67 Pts Iq From Diet And Nutrition Intervention In Autism

This is a study I am particularly proud of because I was a part of it! Our study showed a 4.5x increase in developmental age as well as a 6.7 pts increase in non-verbal IQ. The study involved individuals aged 3-58 years old implementing a dietary intervention of a healthy gluten-free, casein-free, and soy-free diet along with a multivitamin/mineral formula, essential fatty acid supplement, digestive enzymes, and a couple of additional nutritional interventions studied over one year. You can see my full write up on the study here.

In addition to improvements in development and IQ, major areas of improvement where seen across the board in included a reduction in autism symptoms and GI symptoms, improvement in language, focus, anxiety, and more.

What Is Gluten And Casein

Autism GFCF Diet Help

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye and barley. Gluten can also be added to foods to give it that delicious fluffy texture. The proposed âproblematicâ compound with dairy is the casein, a protein found in cows, sheepâs and goatsâ products like milk, cheese and yogurt. There is some evidence suggesting that A2 casein is less problematic than regular dairy that contains both A1 and A2 casein for some individuals. Both gluten and casein proteins when ingested need to be properly broken down into single amino acids but it seems some individuals are only able to digest them to peptides .

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Who Shouldnt Follow The Gfcf Diet

Although the diet is safe in general, if your child has a very restrictive diet and primarily eats foods containing gluten and dairy, it would be best to work on expanding your childs diet before trying the GFCF diet. Extremely picky eaters may benefit from working with a dietitian or feeding specialist to expand their diet so theyre able to eat the foods included in the GFCF diet.

Gluten-containing foods, like wheat, have fiber that is great for gut health, so it’s important to ensure your childs diet still contains other high-fiber whole grains and vegetables. Since dairy is a good source of calcium, also making an effort to ensure your diet has plant-based sources of calcium, like broccoli and leafy greens is important. If your child doesnt frequently eat veggies that provide calcium, a supplement may be needed.

Gluten And Casein Bind To Opioid Receptors In The Brain

An opioid reaction to long chain peptides creates a high pain threshold and a foggy, disconnected feeling, similar to the feeling of being drunk. Many parents report that the fog lifted after starting a gluten and casein free diet and this may be the reason.

  • Gluten and casein are very long chain peptides and are very similar in structure to natural opioid-binding peptides.
  • They are difficult to break down, especially if the child has insufficient digestive enzymes.
  • If the childs digestive system is not properly breaking down gluten and casein, undigested peptides from these foods can access the bloodstream via a permeable gut lining .
  • Once in the bloodstream, they travel to the brain where they attach to the brains opiate receptors.
  • This opiate reaction causes an addiction to the food, much like an opiate drug would.
  • This opioid-like reaction is also the reason many kids go through withdrawal symptoms when gluten and casein are removed from the diet.
Research:

For more information, please read Peptides Role in Autism with Emphasis on Exorphins.

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Gluten Contains Zonulin Which Contributes To Leaky Gut

Another important reason for implementing a GFCF diet for autism: gluten is high in zonulin, which can cause intestinal permeability .

Increased gut permeability contributes to heightened reactions to food components in the intestinal tract of children with autism. As a result, the child becomes sensitive to any food that they eat often.

The reactions can vary from child to child but often include difficulty concentrating, constipation and/or diarrhea, and widespread inflammation. A 2017 review suggests that leaky gut may also contribute to anxiety and depression.

Limited Diets Can Work Well For Children With Autism

GFCF Diet for Autism

The gluten free / dairy free diet has really agreed with Marc. His weight is much better now and he gains at a good rate. When his blood work is done, he is not deficient in any nutrients. His diarrhea problem is a thing of the past. Marc sleeps ten hours a night whereas before the diet he was waking up crying five times a night and not wanting to be held because he was in pain. I also have a daughter with autism and put her on this diet when she was a year old as she was beginning to exhibit some of the same symptoms Marc had when he was her age. Our family has followed this diet successfully for 19 years now.

Has eliminating gluten and dairy from my childrens diet improved our family life? The answer is yes. In the last 15 years, specialized diets have become much more mainstream, and restaurants often have gluten free or dairy free options. Altering your childs diet may not be the answer to the problems your child is experiencing, but it is a non-invasive way to try and improve the life of your child. They are also other dietary options other than gluten free or dairy free check out the links in the Medical Links section of our website.

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Malabsorption Of Fructose And Fructans

The potential importance of malabsorbed fructose and fructans as a trigger for symptoms in patients with IBS has generally been underappreciated. The evidence that a fructose or fructans load can provoke acute gastrointestinal symptoms is substantial . There is also support for the view that in patients with fructose malabsorption, chronic symptoms of IBS can be effectively reduced by reducing dietary intake. I have observed favourable results on a number of occasions when a childs intake of fruit juice, dried fruit and other fruits is reduced.

The Science And Research On How Gluten And Casein Negatively Affect Autism

As we move into the science behind the gluten-free and casein-free diet for autism, please pay particular attention to the issue of inflammation. This applies to both the gut and the brain. Localized inflammation in the gut can impact digestion and nutrient absorption, and gastrointestinal inflammation can become systemic causing inflammation in the brain. Neurological inflammation has been linked to many chronic conditions and diseases such as autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and more.

Reducing inflammation is critical for our clients to heal. Therapeutic diet intervention targeted to their personalized nutrition needs is a key to reducing inflammation, and the GFCF diet is a great place to start.

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A Healthier Transition For All

Some forward-thinking people have also discovered that the preservative-laden sugar-filled foods so prevalent in our culture today are also hindering our childrens ability to progress. People with other disorders such as Celiac-Sprue disease also benefit greatly from such a diet. Author Jerri Mead agrees.

The book is called Graysons Way because this is the way that my son, Grayson, will need to eat for probably the remainder of his life. Its designed to transition the entire family to gluten-free, casein-free, no refined sugar eating. I believe that in order to be successful, the entire family must follow the diet, at least while in the house. Children with disabilities are already reminded too often that they are different. I did not feel comfortable doing that inside our home as well. Anyway, cooking one meal nowadays is difficult enough. My husband can attest that he is getting better meals now than he did before we went on the diet, with very few accommodations.

Zonulin And Its Role In Leaky Gut In Autism

Autism Recovery – GFCF Diet With GFMeals Part 1

Another advantage of implementing this diet is that gluten is known to trigger zonulin. Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of the GI tract, and causes it to unzip or open, also known as,leaky gut. Studies show zonulin has been linked to gut permeability in autism, as well as many chronic inflammatory disorders .

An increase in gut permeability can cause heightened reactions to other food components in the intestinal tract for children with autism. This can result in constipation, diarrhea, inflammation, food allergies/intolerances, or trouble concentrating. Since the gut and brain are connected, when the gut is unhealthy, the brain cant function optimally.

We know individuals with autism have a higher prevalence of gastrointestinal issues. In fact, here is a blog I wrote about this almost a decade ago. And in a study by Dr. James Adams, the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms has been linked to the severity of autism symptoms.

The above study on zonulin from 2021 showed that serum zonulin was significantly higher in children with severe autism than controls. This suggests the missing link from Dr. Adams on the correlation between GI severity and autism severity may possibly be related to increased intestinal permeability.

Kids following a gluten-free diet have a much lower intestinal permeability than those who consume gluten.

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