Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Diets Vs. Autism


In the past decade, recommendations have been made to exclude gluten and casein from the everyday meals of autistic children due to hypotheses of a link between the gut and the brain and further, that gluten and casein can exacerbate or cause features of autism.

Studies have shown that children with autism have a very high number of antibodies, which are a result of gastrointestinal issues. However, it has not yet been proven whether the brain affects the gut or the reverse. It is possible that these antibodies are a result of an allergic reaction, that the intestines are too permeable and allow gluten and casein to diffuse into the body. (these are harmful peptides and would result in antibodies)  Also, an inflammatory response may occur upon ingestion and result in a central nervous system reaction, or the intestinal permeability could be an effect of disturbed brain function (not causing any additional brain dysfunction).

By removing foods that cause negative reactions and adding foods that are easy to digest, one could greatly improve the gastrointestinal digestion and microbiota, or the bacteria that aids in digestion. Scientists think that microbiome are affected in children with autism (possibly by antibiotics, allergies, or repetitive dietary behaviors). Experiments on mice have been conducted to learn the influence of the microbiota, or digestive bacteria, on brain development and function in autism. Although the link between microbiota and autism-like behavior has been established, the underlying mechanism is still unknown and a solid connection is still not confirmed. As a result, we are still unsure of how closely linked autism is with matters of digestion.

It is entirely possible that the breakthrough in autism treatments may start in the gastrointestinal tract but we do not know yet for sure. Bearing this in mind, parents should remember that a special diet and its concurrent restrictions could be stressful on your child and family. In addition, a gluten-free diet is usually low in fiber and nutritional components, which can negatively impact your child if not balanced properly with other nutrients.

As it is still unclear whether autism treatment is dependent on the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, the studies in this field will continue as researchers strive to establish the links between neurodevelopmental conditions and biochemical development. In the meantime, the best idea would be to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders if there are any. This, as well as recommendations from a qualified nutritionist, can significantly increase positive results in autism treatment.

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