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Is There a Diet that Can Help Treat Autism?

Learn if there are any diets that help children with autism from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.


Is there a diet that helps a child with autism?

There's a lot of information and data that is available more on the internet but also some research regarding different diets, and I think food is very crucial to everybody, but some children with this spectrum have increased food intolerances, as well as food allergies. The gluten-free, casein-free diet is the one that has been quite popular. Gluten is present in the grain of wheat, and it's how wheat gets processed. A lot of children have known to have some sensitivity to the presence of gluten in their diet. They don't necessarily have a Celiac disease but they have some intolerance. That is what is being found in some small studies and parents are reporting that removing gluten from the diet can make a big difference, not just with the G.I complains but also with behavior, and speech and language communication and basically connecting as well.

So, the gluten-free diet is one of the things that is talked about the casein-free diet. Casein is present in dairy and some kids have just milk intolerance so milk sensitivity, particularly sensitivity to the casein molecule. The theory being that antibodies to gluten and casein actually can affect the opioid preceptors and children seemed to appear to be a little bit more zoned out or as they say antibodies may also be affecting the brain. This is the hypothesis, but there is no back testing for it apart from the Celiac Disease, but you have to do an elimination diet. Parents have to be particularly supported by this because kids are very choosy any picky with their appetite, working with a nutritionist so that you do not lose out the adequate calories you need, you don't develop other deficiencies. Also, there is a lot of hidden labeling.

So, do get informed about what are the food that actually are gluten free, and whether there is some cross-reactivity with the way other grains are processed, where its Bali, or rye or even oats. These little details become important because the body has to be from gluten for at least six months for one to see a real difference and to do it significantly. Those are the parents who did it and said it made a difference. Some come back and say it made a remarkable difference than a short period. Others feel it didn't make much of a difference, and yet when re-introducing it back into the diet, so the symptoms come back.

They won't show it was related to the particular foods. Gluten and casein, as well as soy are common offenders that are talked about and the research is kind of mixed, but some small studies are coming out. What is interesting is that children with an autism spectrum disorder do have more common G.I problems. G.I being gastrointestinal. They have digestion issues, constipation, diarrhea, and there is also a change seen. For example, is they have lactose or milk intolerance, you can have symptoms of alternating diarrhea, constipation. Those are the kinds of kids I would be more ready to do a gluten-free casein-free diet. But, it's important to get the parents support and the information as they go on to trying any of these elimination diets. There are many other diets with removing salicylate and sulfites which is present in certain fruits like apples and strawberries. There are many diets out there. There's a laundry list from a G.A.P.S. diet to low carbohydrate diet.

I think you need to work with a nutritionist and work with a pediatrician, get yourself more informed. Start with the simple things and do it on a gradient. Make sure your child is getting enough calories and enough of the other nutrients that are important.

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