Friday, March 27, 2009

Can a special diet really improve Autistic symptoms?

Scientists have witnessed a steadily growing correlation between certain gastrointestinal dysfunctions and Autism. One particular theory states that perhaps one cause of Autism includes the fact that some children’s digestive systems can’t digest certain elements (whether due to genes or not), and thus a child develops Autism. In addition to improperly working digestive tracks, recent studies have shown that gluten and casein from a child’s diet can help improve their behavior, speech, and therefore mental abilities. “Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye, barley, bulgar, durum, kamut and spelt, and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, flavorings, artificial colors and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins. Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk, such as cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whey and even some brands of margarine. It also may be added to non-milk products such as soy cheese and hot dogs in the form of caseinate.” Gluten and casein form peptides in the body, which in turn can alter a person's behavior, perceptions, and responses to his/her environment. It is also thought that peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in certain people. Research in the U.S. and Europe has found peptides in the urine of a significant number of children with autism, signifying that proteins are not being digested properly. Although not every Autistic child has gastrointestinal problems, many of them do. The gluten-free casein-free diet has shown to be helpful in many cases whether the Autistic individual has digestive problems or not.

Peptides- substances that act like opiates in the body.

Paul Shattock and Dr. Paul Whiteley say: “The hypothesis may appear 'off the wall' in many respects, there are a number of pieces of evidence, which seem to support them. The ideas are compatible with virtually all the accepted biological data on autism and are therefore worthy of consideration. The dietary method must still be considered as experimental and no positive results can be promised or are claimed for every person." This shows very productive research in the search to getting closer the cause and treatment of Autism. My cousin Kyler has Autism, he has been on the GFCF diet for over a year now, and significant results have become of it. When gluten and casein are removed from his diet, Kyler has less tantrums, can interact with people more often than usual, and he sleeps better. At times, it is more difficult to get Kyler to like foods that are GFCF diet approved, and the diet can be a pricey one, but it is well worth the efforts. Although this diet may not prove hopeful for other cases of Autism, is still has proven more than beneficial for others.

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