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.

What is Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)?

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) is a project that was founded in the 1960s by Dr. Bernard Rimland. Doctors trained in the “DAN! Protocol,” are taught an approach to autism which begins with the idea that autism is a biomedical disorder. This approach was developed by the Autism Research Institute (ARI) which has more than 1,000 documented cases of autistic children who have recovered.

The belief among DAN! doctors is that autism is a disorder caused by a lowered immune response, issues caused by some foods, and external toxins from vaccines and other sources.

What Type of Treatments do DAN! Doctors Prescribe?

  • Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and essential fatty acids.
  • Gluten- and dairy-free diets.
  • Food allergy testing.
  • Treating dysbiosis in the gut using non-pharmacological medications (i.e. intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth).
  • Heavy metal detoxification.

What can I expect at my DAN! Doctor Appointment?

You can expect that your child will go through some testing mostly revolving around the state of their internal body. A test for hidden food allergies will be conducted to be sure that any dietary changes that are made as part of your child’s treatment plan are beneficial and not more damaging to them.

You should leave with your questions answered and a customized treatment plan for your child’s needs. If you have questions, ask, ask, ask. Remember, these doctors chose to be DAN! doctors. They believe in this treatment method, and want to see your child healthy!

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.

Celiac Disease and Autism – A Startling Link

One of our biggest suggestions in all treatment plans for Autism is the elimination of Gluten from the diet. Gluten can bind to the brain in the same way that opiates do, causing the body to become addicted to it. Gluten is also the culprit in another disorder called Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing the essential parts of food that we need to stay healthy. In easier terms, even if you’re eating the best food possible to promote good health, your body isn’t getting the proper nutrients. Celiac disease is triggered by the consumption of Gluten, and like Autism, the exact cause is unknown.

There is also another condition called Gluten Sensitivity. The difference here between GS and Celiac Disease is that with Sensitivity, there is no intestinal damage, just a slight reaction from consuming Gluten. Arguably, because gluten binds to the opiate receptors in the brain as we’ve discussed before, it’s a bit pre-proven, but maybe we all have a  bit of sensitivity. As in, our body reacts in a way that is not traditional to the consumption.

It is not until there is intestinal damage that it is deemed to be Celiac Disease. Kind of like a sore throat is simply a sore throat, until it becomes infected, and at that time you are diagnosed with Strep throat. Same general idea.

A striking similarity between Autism and Celiac Disease is the similar rise in the number of people affected by them. As the number of cases of Celiac Disease rise, so are the cases of Autism.

Is there a correlation? Could your child be being misdiagnosed as having Celiac Disease since that is a more commonly “diagnosed” disorder, and could the real problem be a case of Autism?

Both have been proven to be connected to gluten sensitivity. Both come along with digestive issues. Keep in mind that Primary Care Physicians are not Autism Doctors, so they may not see the behavioral issues as being red flags. Does your child have a case of diagnosed Celiac Disease, along with behavioral, or other digestive issues? It may be worth taking a second look at. It could be Autism that your child is battling, and while it is treatable, the playing field of treatment approaches changes completely.

One of our fears is that many more children have Autism than we know about due to misdiagnosis as bipolar or Celiac Disease. The key to treating Autism is to diagnose Autism.

The Link Between Cow’s Milk And Autism


A dairy free diet is a health choice that many parents of Autism make. The studies surrounding wheat and dairy as causing adverse reactions in Autistic children are numerous and even those without Autism are hopping on the gluten and dairy free diet. A new study is claiming that cow’s milk is a cause of Autism and several other diseases and disorders.

Milk from a particular cow – A1 Cows – which is consumed by millions of people world wide is claimed to be a contributing cause to Autism, according to Dr. Keith Woodford, a professor of Agribusiness. Dr. Woodford says that there is a protein in A1-Cow’s milk that is causing Autism, Schizophrenia, Diabetes, inflammation and heart disease. This protein is not found in A2 Cow’s milk, however. Making the switch from A1 to A2 type milk have a dramatic, positive effect on your health.

Why is A1 milk bad for us?

There is a protein, BCM7 that is found in an abundant amount in the urine and blood of A1 cows. This protein is known as an opitate and has negative effects on the immune system, especially in the Autistic and Schizophrenia bodies. According to Dr. Woodford, injecting animals with BCM7 triggered a development of diabetes.

What’s the difference between A1 and A2 cows?

Along with there being BCM7 traces in A1 and not in A2 cows, A1 cows tend to be the more modern breeds of cow. A2 cows are the older breed of cows including Asian, African, and Jersey cows.

How do I know which kind of milk my child and I are drinking?

It’s difficult to know which cow you milk came from. The safest route would be to switch to goat’s milk or sheep’s milk, both of which do not show traces of BCM7. Oat, rice, and soy milk are also fine substitutions if you wish to avoid BCM7 intake.

Are there any other problems with milk that I should know about?

Nothing that’s been completely documented yet. However, Dr. Joseph Mercola says that autistic children should avoid pasteurized milk. He says:

Over the last six months I have come to realize that the major reason why autistic children need to avoid milk is because it is pasteurized. The pasteurization process turns casein into a very dangerous molecule that can further precipitate the brain injury. If the children are fed real raw milk this will not occur.

Whether you’re a parent of Autism, a young adult with autism, or just a health conscious individual who is very attentive to what goes into your body, monitoring and changing your milk intake could have dramatic health benefits.

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.

Autism, Autoimmune Disease and Gluten

BreadLast week, I looked at how genetic abnormalities may be linked to autism and today I’m going to take that a bit further and look at the link between the genetic codes, autoimmune diseases, autism and gluten – an interesting recipe!

Some researchers are suggesting that there is a link between parents who suffer with auto-immune diseases like lupus, type 1 diabetes, Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Disease, celiac disease and autoimmune adrenal insufficiency, and children who have autism spectrum disorders. These scientists believe that a parent’s autoimmune deficiency can make their child more susceptible to autism spectrum disorders in the following ways:-

  • Toxins or pathogens may be able to damage the developing brain of the developing child.
  • A pathogen may trigger an autoimmune response that could interfere with normal brain functioning.
  • In utero, the mother’s immune deficiency may allow a pathogen to damage the brain of the fetus directly or by triggering an immune response in the mother that then “creates pathogenesis in the fetal brain” – see Utah State University’s Study “Possible Immunogenetic Basis for Autism” http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/79073/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0.

Two studies – “Familial Clustering of Autoimmune Disorders and Evaluation of Medical Risk Factors in Autism” by J Child Neurol (1999) and “Increased Prevalence of Familial Autoimmunity in Probands with Pervasive Developmental Disorders” T L Sweeten et al. (2003)suggested that there is a link between a family history of autoimmune disorders and autistic children because autistic children are more likely to have a family history of autoimmune disorders than healthy children in a control group. It was found that over 40% of families with an autistic child had two or more close family members with an autoimmune disorder and that those with first-degree relatives, particularly their mothers, were most often affected.

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The GFCF Diet

The GFCF or Gluten Free Casein Free (wheat free, milk free) Diet is just one of the biomedical treatments recommended by the DAN! Protocol. The diet has found to be very effective in helping children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) recover from autism and the diet has had a significant amount of publicity due to Jenny McCarthy’s success story.

Jenny’s Success with the GFCF Diet

Jenny McCarthy is an autism “crusader” who has appeared on many TV shows, including Larry King and Oprah, has spoken at many events and has written various books on the subject of autism, its causes and the biomedical approach to treating it. Jenny believes that it was starting the GFCF Diet with her autistic son, Evan, that started him on the road to recovery. This diet combined with other biomedical treatments, such as chelation, vitamin supplements and anti-fungal treatment, has led to Evan recovering from autism and no longer being on the autism spectrum. Jenny does not use the word “cured” but Evan no longer displays any signs or symptoms of autism.

Many other children have also benefited from the GFCF Diet. Watch the video below to hear about another family’s experience:-

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