The Digestive System
Autistic children tend to have leaky gut syndrome. This means the wall of the gut is more permeable than it should be. Because of this permeability, undigested food molecules can migrate out into the bloodstream where they have no business being. These foreign particles can induce an allergic response in the body.
Gluten and casein are molecules that, once in the bloodstream due to leaky gut, are able to cross the blood-brain barrier (a natural “filter” in the blood supply to the brain). These proteins’ effects on the brain are still being studied, but the fact that cutting out these two elements tends to decrease autistic behavior implies that there is a very real effect on the brain from these proteins.
How to Go GFCF
It may seem overwhelming to have to avoid all milk and wheat protein. You will have to learn to identify milk products by their alternative names, such as whey. Casein is sometimes present in non-dairy foods – look for “caseinate” in the ingredients.
You will also need to learn all the grains that are high in gluten (such as oats and barley), and watch for them in ingredient lists. Due to the prevalence of the GFCF diet, however, most products have warnings about whether or not the product contains wheat or milk products.
A good thing to do is focus on what you are supposed to eat. Get to know your local health food store – some such stores even have an entire aisle dedicated to gluten-free foods. And there are many non-dairy alternatives available in health food stores (or the health food section of some supermarkets), such as almond milk, buttery spreads made from healthy, non-hydrogenated oils, and soy-based cream cheese. There is even gluten-free pasta, made from rice flour.
Consider getting a cookbook on GFCF cooking. There are even such cookbooks specifically for cooking for children.
The GFCF diet is not necessarily forever. As children’s digestive systems heal, they can often start consuming some of the “offending” foods again without any problems.
As your child assumes a GFCF diet, you can expect to see some improvement in one or more of the following conditions.
* Allergic symptoms tend to decrease, since the child’s immune system is not generating an inflammatory response by “attacking” foreign food particles in the bloodstream.
* Behavior problems tend to decrease, since the proteins are no longer affecting the child’s brain.
* Digestion improves as the gut heals.
We hope that The Benefits of a Gluten and Casein-Free GFCF Diet for Your Autistic Child helps you with your autistic child!