10 Diet Tips for Autism

  1. Remove or reduce foods using an Elimination Diet to see which food controls symptoms and which aggravates them.
  2. A gluten-free and casein-free diet (gluten is the protein in wheat, and casein is the protein in milk).
  3. Eliminate allergenic foods like eggs, fish, seafood, tree nuts, peanuts, and soy.
  4. A low-carb ketogenic diet has been found to be effective for autistic children.
  5. A yeast and sugar-free diet is helpful in some cases.
  6. Some autistic children are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals therefore ensure that the child is getting an adequate amounts to aid their growth and treat symptoms.
  7. Include a diet rich in essential fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and cod liver oil.
  8. A diet rich in fiber helps to alleviate and prevent constipation. Also include plenty of fluids and regular physical activity.
  9. Probiotics help with gastro-intestinal problems because they contain healthy bacteria and can improve the micro flora in the digestive tract in many autistic children.
  10. Digestive enzymes also help to aid digestion.

GFCF Chocolate Pudding Recipe!

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch (or potato)
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups liquid DariFree
1 Tbs margarine or shortening
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder or carob powder

Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the Darifree until smooth. I imagine you could use any dairy sub here.
Microwave uncovered on high for 3 minutes.
Microwave 4 – 6 minutes more, stirring every minute until thick.
Stir in margarine/shortening and vanilla.
Cover with plastic wrap to avoid “skin”.

This recipe was adapted from www.gcfree.com

GFCF Mac ‘n Cheese Recipe!

1 cup cooked rice elbow macaroni
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon tapioca or corn starch
Dash black pepper
1 ¼ cup Rice Milk
1 roll of Teese (cheddar style – cheese substitute)

Cook rice macaroni according to directions.
In a saucepan, cook onion in margarine until tender. Stir in flour and pepper.
Add rice milk.
Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.
Add cheese. Stir until melted.
Stir macaroni into cheese.
Transfer to a 1 quart casserole.
Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes – until bubbly.

This recipe was adapted from: http://gfcfrecipes.blogspot.ca/

Dietary Intervention – An Important Consideration for Autism

Autism is a complex biomedical disorder that is currently being diagnosed at an epidemic level in children. As research continues to fall short of unveiling a cause or cure for autism, parents and professionals strive to find treatments to minimize the symptoms of the condition. One well-known treatment is the use of specialized diets for autism. A preliminary dietary intervention which is still the most popular within the field of autism is the Gluten Free-Casein Free (GFCF) diet. The GFCF diet strives to remove the proteins of gluten (found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats) and casein (found in dairy products) for optimal digestion. As researchers have further recognized the gastrointestinal component of autism, additional diets to address the symptoms of autism have developed and are becoming more widely utilized.

These diets include:
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
Body Ecology Diet (BED)
GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome)
Weston A. Price
Low Oxalate

Research has recognized that those with autism have marked gastrointestinal symptoms and by eliminating offenders for the immune and gastrointestinal systems, improvements are often seen in neurological symptoms as well as digestive symptoms. For many children, dietary intervention has resulted in significant improvements in language, social interaction, behavior, and eye contact, along with a reduction in self-stimulatory behaviors and aggression. A healthy diet that addresses the gastrointestinal concerns for those who suffer from the condition is a viable treatment option in reducing symptoms and improving outcomes for children with autism.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and Autism

Many autistic individuals have tiny holes in their intestinal tract, and this is often referred to as ‘leaky gut’. Intestinal permeability, commonly called “leaky gut”, means that there are larger than normal spaces present between the cells of the gut wall. When these large spaces exist in the small intestine, it allows undigested food and other toxins to enter the blood stream. This theory suggests that autistic children have tears and holes in their intestinal walls, possibly due to damage from toxins, antibiotic sensitivity or infections (such as an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans). These children may lose healthy digestive bacteria and have damage to the cells that produce enzymes needed to absorb certain proteins (such as gluten) properly.

Gluten is a protein and is contained in grass foods such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. Casein is also a protein and is found in dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. In the intestinal tract, gluten and casein breakdown into peptides; and these peptides then breakdown into amino acids.

When incompletely broken down foods enter the body, the immune system mounts an attack against the “foreigner” resulting in food allergies and sensitivities. The release of antibodies triggers inflammatory reactions when the foods are eaten again. The chronic inflammation lowers IgA levels. Sufficient levels of IgA are needed to protect the intestinal tract from clostridia and yeast.

Partially digested protein molecules from gluten and casein, also known as peptides, can reach the brain via the bloodstream. Peptides have a molecular structure similar to that of your brain’s natural opioids (endorphins), so they’re drawn to the brain’s opioid receptors. This can lead to problems with behavior, speech and social skills. Just as opioid drugs such as heroin are addictive, so can foods high in gluten and casein be for children with leaky gut.

Many, but not all children with autism have food allergies, and this supports the hypothesis that leaky gut syndrome may underly symptoms of autism.  The important point is that many parents have seen results from the simple step of putting their autistic child on an autistic diet focusing on leaky gut syndrome. If you have an autistic child, it is well worth your time and their health to explore natural treatment options for them.

The Latest Study On Gluten and Casein Free Diets And Their Benefit to Autism

Children with ASD often have problems with their gastrointestinal systems. New research out of Penn State College of Medicine [1] is confirming what most parents over ASD children have figured out… a diet free of gluten and casein often helps children with ASD.

“Notably, a greater proportion of our study population reported GI and allergy symptoms than what is seen in the general pediatric population,” said Christine Pennesi, medical student at Penn State College of Medicine, “Some experts have suggested that gluten- and casein-derived peptides cause an immune response in children with ASD, and others have proposed that the peptides could trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems.”

The study asked 387 parents and caregivers of children with ASD to complete a online survey about their children’s GI symptoms, food allergies, and food sensitivities. It was found that children with ASD had improved behavior when put on a diet limiting gluten and casein. Specifically, parents of ASD children found that not only did the dietary change decrease GI symptoms but it also increased the child’s social behaviors including language production, eye contact, engagement, attention span, requesting behavior, and social responsiveness.

The research strongly indicated that for some children, ASD is more than just a neurological disorder but may involve the gastrointestinal tract and immune system.

“There are strong connections between the immune system and the brain, which are mediated through multiple physiological symptoms,” Klein said. “A majority of the pain receptors in the body are located in the gut, so by adhering to a gluten-free, casein-free diet, you’re reducing inflammation and discomfort that may alter brain processing, making the body more receptive to ASD therapies.”

The survey concluded that while improvement was seen when eliminating either gluten or casein from a child’s diet, the most benefit was seen in children that adhered to gluten-free and casein-free diets.

“If parents are going to try a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children, they really need to stick to it in order to receive the possible benefits,” she said. “It might give parents an opportunity to talk with their physicians about starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children with ASD.”

Have any of our readers seen benefits to gluten-free and casein-free diets for their ASD child?

[1] Pennesi Christine M.; Klein Laura Cousino. Effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Based on parental report. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2012 DOI: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000003

How To: Detox Environmental Toxicities

Body detoxification is the new big thing in healthy living. It’s very common in weight loss and healthy living scenarios to detoxify the body of harmful toxins that affect the immune and other important systems from functioning properly.

In order to keep the body free and clear from toxins, there are some dietary things that we can do, as well as avoiding smog, nicotine and other harmful substances. However, the environment itself carries it’s own amount of toxins and these are hard to avoid unless you live in a bubble. Yet, these toxins are bad for the body and the longer they are allowed to exist, they are given the chance to do damage.

Before we can correct the damage that may have already been done, we have to rid the body of the current toxins as not to produce more issues.

So, how do you detoxify the body from environmentally originated toxins?

1) Avoidance of Exposure

It’s important that you be sure that your child (and yourself!) are consistently exposed to clean air, food and water. Avoid smoking areas and being in a city with a lot of vehicle smog for long periods of time. Be sure you’re allowing your child to consume clean food that isn’t at risk for toxins or pesticides. Additionally, a diet free of gluten and casein has become popular and effective in avoiding allergic reactions. Avoid tap water when possible – or have a water filter in place. You’ll taste the difference most immediately when switching from tap to filtered water.

2) Supplementation

It is common in Autistic Children to find that their body is lacking the adequate vitamins and minerals to have an effective immune system. When the immune system isn’t working, it can’t fight off infection (which explains why you may notice your child might be very sick very often).

Once you find out what your child’s body is lacking, you can supplement it by modifying his/her diet and administering supplements in the form of multivitamins.

Dr. Walter Crinnion, a Naturopathic Doctor, has done increased studies on vitamins and minerals and wrote an article in response to a claim that vitamins were more dangerous than drugs. As Dr. Crinnion explains, it’s true that too much of some minerals is bad, as copper in excess can cause toxic damage, there is no backup that says multi-vitamins are useless.

3) Cleansing

Dr. Crinnion has also done a great deal of work in detoxification by ridding the body of toxic load. He studies the foods that could be making you sick. He interestingly points out that the foods that your child craves the most could be the ones that are causing the most damage. We’ve talked here before about the body being “addicted” to gluten as it attaches to the brain similar to morphine.

Cleansing the body of these things is essential to get on the right path to wellness.

There are a few methods that can be utilized to cleanse the body of toxins: Of the most popular and effective are:

Chelation –  Chelation is the process utilized to remove damaging heavy metals from the body. Mercury, iron, and other metals are often found in the Autistic body and can have negative effects on the brain making Autism symptoms even worse. Another source of damaging metals is Thiomersal, which is found in many childhood vaccines. Chelation Therapy includes the administering of chelating agents to remove heavy metals.

Juicing – By utilizing fruits and vegetables that are highly concentrated, the body flushes out unnecessary toxins. The body digests juices very quickly (in about 25 minutes), so it’s nutrients get in and get to work very quickly. Organic fruits and vegetables are best for juice detoxification and can easily be done at home. Enzymes, vitamins and minerals will be given to your body while toxins will be evicted!

The first step is realizing what is affecting the body negatively. The 2nd, avoiding the things that are making the body sick. And the 3rd, ridding the body of existing toxins. Getting the body in good working order is the key to treating Autism instead of fueling it.

Ready to find out what the state of your child’s body is? We can help! How about a Blood Chemistry Analysis. Dr. Wong will analyze over 70 biomarkers in order to give you a recommendation of what dietary changes your child might need to take part in, what vitamins and minerals are lacking, and what underlying diseases or disorders he/she may have.

Click here to order this test.

It includes the test, courier, shipping and handling, a full analysis, follow up correspondence, full report of findings, and a recommended diet plan if applicable…all of that is included in the purchase price!


*Photo Credit: Via

How Accurate Is Your Gluten Sensitivity Test?

We’ve all been there. We suspect something is wrong, we go for a test, and it comes back negative. While it’s a relief that the problem that we thought existed doesn’t, it still leaves the problem itself. But what is it?

Many children with Autism end up testing positive for Gluten sensitivity. Even more children have the symptoms of Gluten sensitivity. Sometimes, when they are given a standard Gluten Sensitivity test the test comes back negative. What could cause this?

This is not saying that your test is wrong so much as it is saying that it is not testing all potential molecules. In order to understand this more, let’s take a look at Gluten and how it is broken down in the body.

Traditionally when the body breaks down and digests food, the undigested particles are passed out of the body through fecal matter. However, if the digestive system is weakened, and the body doesn’t pass the undigested food, this food can make it into the blood stream. Foreign matter in the blood stream will cause an immune response. It’s how our bodies are wired in order to protect us.

Also, the lining in the intestine, which serves as a protection to our bodies too, gets attacked when there is a Gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Gluten can literally ‘tear’ the intestinal lining. When this lining breaks down, this is when Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs.

Gluten itself is a difficult protein for the body to digest because more often we lacked the enzymes to process it.

Here’s how Gluten is broken down:

Wheat is broken into Proteins and Lectins.
Lectins are broken down into Agglutinin.
Proteins of wheat are broken down into Gluten.
Gluten is broken down further into Gliadin (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Omega), Glutenin, and Gluteomorphin.
Giladin and Glutenin are broken into Transglutaminase.
Transglutaminase is broken down into deamidated Gliadin 15, 17, and 33 particles.

The majority of Gluten Sensitivity tests only for the Alpha Gliadin. Alpha is only one of over 60 potentially problematic indicators.  If the test isn’t testing for other proteins, then it isn’t an accurate reading of the body’s potential sensitivity. So, if your test comes back negative for Gluten Sensitivity, there still are other markers that should be tested for in order to get an accurate reading.

The most common test ordered by doctors is the Celiac Panel. In a recent article, Dr. Tom O’Brien, a Gluten Intolerance expert, says that this test reports a false negative 7 out of 10 times due to a combination of how the Doctor reads the test and the patient’s condition at the time of testing. For example, a physician may declare the test “negative” for intestinal tissue damage, even if the blood test indicates a positive immune reaction. The only time that the intestinal test will come back positive is if there is severe damage to the intestinal wall – as in the type of damage caused by Celiac Disease. If there is only partial to moderate damage, the accuracy of the test goes down about 28%.

Additionally, the Celiac Panel does not account for those with IgA deficiency. People with an IgA deficiency will lack IgA antibodies, so the test will come back negative.

Since Gluten intolerance can range from acute to severe, with a lot of in-between levels, not everyone’s sensitivity is being detected in the tests that are given. So even though your child’s Celiac Panel comes back negative, and you believe that they do not have  Gluten Sensitivity, this could be incorrect.

There are other ways to test for Gluten Sensitivity, and we’ll take a look at the benefits of those next week.

The Link Between Autism and Food Allergies

gluten-freeThough it’s not completely proven, there have been studies that show a strong connection between food allergies and autism symptoms. One of the most frequently heard connections is that between Gluten (wheat) and Casein (milk) products. These food proteins are broken down into smaller proteins, also known as peptides. The two peptides, glutenin and gliadin, and leak into the gut and attach to the opitate receptors of the autistic child’s brain. This is very similar to the body being on a morphine drip. The peptides act as a Narcotic to the autistic body.

One of the primary steps in the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) Protocol is that the autistic child be placed on a Gluten Free, Casein Free diet for at least three months. Many parents have been reporting a link between Autism and diet for years, but it’s now being found that children who consume gluten and casein regularly have more severe autism symptoms. Some of the research reports that claim to “disprove” this theory, also depend a lot on the idea that this is an allergic reaction that is being claimed to exist. Quite the contrary. In fact, it’s not due to an allergic reaction that the symptoms worsen. It’s because the autistic body cannot break down the proteins properly from gluten and casein.  It’s not necessarily an allergy so much as an intolerance.

When parents make the move to take their children off of Gluten and Casein completely, they’re often worried. One of the main concerns is that their children love gluten and casein products. Many parents have a difficult time getting their children to not eat gluten and casein, as if they’re addicted to it. This is more than just an analogy. It could be completely true. Remember, when gluten and casein break down, they leak into the gut and attach themselves to the opiate receptors of the brain. The same receptors that morphine, codeine and heroin attach themselves to. Your child could literally be addicted to gluten and casein.

Researchers are firm in their statements that “autism is not caused by an allergy.” When some parents read about the effects of gluten and casein, they assume their child is allergic to the foods and that’s the cause of Autism. They take their children off of the foods and expect a cure. Again, as far as we know, autism is not caused by an allergy. However, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are very sensitive – especially in their immune system in how it reacts to the environment.

One of the primary focuses of the Autism Alternative Medicine field is exploring ways in which we can treat our children’s autism symptoms and getting to the source of the problem. While there have been some reports that go against the connection between food allergies and Autism, there are still researchers who very much believe that there is a valid connection and they’re exploring this intensely.

The Gluten-Casein Free Diet for Autistic Children

Bread and MilkA few weeks back, I discussed how gluten can cause behavioral disorders in children who are incapable of digesting it. Many parents have also found that removing Gluten from their Autistic child’s diet has been very beneficial. The same goes for Casein (dairy).

How does one go about removing this from a child’s diet? It’s unfortunately not as simple as cutting out just bread and milk. Carol Ann Brannon, who focuses on specialized diets for Autistic children notes that gluten can not only be consumed via food, but also through the skin:

    “Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, and any derivatives of these grains, including, but not limited to malt grain-starches, malt wash, hydrolyzed vegetable/plant proteins, grain vinegar, soy sauce, and natural flavorings. Casein is found in milk and milk products from mammals….Gluten is in even in Play-Doh, adhesive on stamps and stickers, and many hygiene products. Soy, another common food allergen, is in many foods and hand lotions, make-up, etc.”

Starting the diet is always the toughest part. Should you go cold-turkey; cutting out all bread and dairy products all at once? Or should you slowly omit these foods from your child’s diet? Some parents choose to completely cut out all Gluten and Casein all at once. It is also common that parents and other non-autistic children in the family will feel the benefits of the diet as well. Other parents choose to cut the gluten out of their diets first, and then move on the milk products.

If your child is on the GFCF (Gluten-Free Casein-Free) diet, what CAN they eat? It seems that living without bread and milk takes the majority of food choices away.

“Children can eat a wide variety of meat, chicken, eggs, fruits, and vegetables -– anything that does not contain wheat gluten or casein. It is generally recommended that organic, whole GFCF foods be consumed whenever possible.”

It is very important to share your child’s diet with family, friends, doctors, etc. so that they are all aware of such changes. Even a small amount of bread or dairy could have an effect on your child. Also, make a habit of reading food labels and taking note to all of the ingredients.