Jenny, Generation Rescue and I heavily promote a Gluten Free, Casein Free and Dairy Free diet not only for the autistic child but for the whole family. The Autism Research Institute published a poll that showed that 65% of families that tried a gluten- and casein-free diet (removing wheat and milk) observed their child’s symptoms improving. Below are a few of the reasons I feel everyone will benefit and improve following this type of diet to help achieve their optimal health.
Why Gluten Free
Gluten is the protein part of wheat, oats, rye, barley and other related grains. Studies have shown that most people cannot tolerate gluten. When it comes into contact with the small intestine it can damage the lining and cause malabsorption of nutrients which can lead to serious disease. Wheat, rye and barley contain the simple gluten protein gliadin, which is the main culprit that can cause intestinal disturbances and diseases. Oats contain the simple gluten protein avenin, which is the counterpart to gliadin and produces similar symptoms including intestinal inflammation. The most common condition is known as celiac disease (sometimes called gluten sensitive enteropathy or non-tropical sprue), which is on an alarming international rise. This intestinal injury can result in weight loss, gas, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fatigue, digestive problems, constipation, canker sores, acne, mood swings, irritability or vitamin and mineral deficiencies. When gluten is totally eliminated from the diet, the lining of the intestines will have a chance to heal. There is evidence that gluten is associated with a skin disorder called dermatitis herpetiformis and may trigger autistic-like behavior and food allergens that otherwise would not be present.
There are several different variables that could affect children with autism and possibly ADD, ADHD and Asperger’s Disease. The most popular and studied theory in some children with these ailments reveals that eating gluten leads to high levels of protein bi-products, called gluteomorphines, which may affect their behavior, similar to a drug. Gluteomorphines, especially with these children, can attach to opioid-receptors in the brain, causing problems including sleepiness, giddiness, in-attention/zoning out, aggressive and self-injurious behavior, reduced desire for social interaction, blocked pain messages and increased confusion. The theory is that if gluten is eliminated from the diet, it reduces the levels of gluteomorphine and as a result, behavior improves.
Not All Milk is the Same
Milk is the perfect food provided by nature for the young of each mammalian animal species. The nutrient content is specific to provide for the nutritional needs of the particular animal. Consider the fact that no other mammal besides humans drinks milk from other breeds of mammals. That’s right, none! Dr. Frank Oski, Director of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of the Johns Hopkins Children Center, explains in the book Don’t Drink Your Milk!, “The milk of mammals is species-specific and cow’s milk is a species-specific food for calves.” Of all the food intolerances and hypersensitivities, cow’s milk allergy is the most common in young children. Therefore, the milk of the cow is suited to the specific needs of the growing calf, and human milk is suited to the human infant.
However, there comes a time when the animal weans itself from its mother’s milk. We would be wise to adopt such a plan, as the enzyme rennin, secreted to digest milk proteins, is present in sufficient quantities only in the gastric juice of infants. When the child has a full set of teeth, the secretion of rennin begins to diminish. This phenomenon indicates the time for weaning and feeding of solid food. Once we are weaned, we are all lactose intolerant.
Why Casein Free
The milk protein casein is very complex and difficult to digest and according to Dr. John R. Christopher, N.D., M.H., there is up to 20 times more casein in cow’s milk than human milk, which makes the nutrients in cow’s milk difficult, if not impossible, for humans to assimilate. Undigested food that leaks through the gut cannot only throw off the immune system, but according to a University of Pittsburgh, Department of Medicine study, it can directly affect the functioning of the brain.
Casein may also cause a disruption in normal brain activity as well as an inflammatory response which has shown to bring on more self-stimulatory behavior, aggravating, creating, and resulting in symptoms seen in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Why Dairy Free
Since human milk only has 20% casein and other animal contain so much more, when we consume dairy products we get a lot of mucus, congestion, and calcium deposits. Due to milk’s protein and fat content, all dairy products combine poorly with all other foods. Upon entering the stomach, it forms into curd which adheres around the rest of the food in the stomach. This insulating effect prevents the digestion of other foods. The immune system engages and forms antibodies and these antibodies work to break down food every time you eat and leaks an undigested food particle called a food peptide.
Simply said, milk can often leak through the gut and then actually becomes a toxin in the blood stream. Unknowingly, many people are engaging the immune system every time they consume milk. Therefore, it is advisable for all age groups to eliminate all dairy/casein products.
What You Should Eat
Instead of gluten products it is recommended to eat the non-gluten grains/grasses: quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and whole grain rice. Quinoa amaranth and millet are much more nutritious than wheat, oats, rye or barley. So you are not losing anything instead you are gaining a lot more nutrient value eating the non-gluten products.
You cook these products the same way you do rice. So it is easy to slowly start substituting these great grains into your family meals. Each one has a different texture and nutrient value, so mix it up for a nice wide variety.
We also recommend you substitute your dairy products with nut, grain and coconut milk, cheese, kefir, ice cream and yogurt. Just make sure they are casein free and non-GMO. Some companies are sneaking casein back into these products. So read your labels. Remember to food combine correctly by eating your nut milks and products, which are proteins, with protein meals and rice milk and products, with starch/grain meals. Coconut and hemp milk and products are an exception and combine well with both protein and starch/grain meals.
If you just give this way of eating an honest try, your whole family will notice a huge improved difference. Usually people feel so good once they try it; they don’t want to go back. You crave what you consume and enjoy the taste your use to, so give your body a little time to adjust to the new flavors and you will eventually crave, desire and prefer the new and better foods. They will become your favorites, plus you will feel so much better.
To Your Good Health,
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. This information should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.