Here is what I have to say about diets from my other blog. I will update and write more, but for now I’ll just put this up. I hope to give you a better overview later.
How Diet causes autism, and why the Gluten Casein Free Diet is not the answer
I’m not a Doctor, or medical expert, just a mom who does a lot of research. However, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is not only a mother of a successfully recovered autistic child, she is also a trained medical doctor (Neurologist, and brain surgeon), as well as having specialized in nutrition after finding out her son was autistic. So if you don’t believe me for my lack of training and titles, then read her book. No need for me to re-invent the wheel. It’s pretty easy to understand, and it will give you all the details and explanations of what I am about to summarize below, with research and scientific studies quoted to back her up.
I found myself chanting mentally on every page “Why didn’t anybody tell me about this? Why didn’t I know?” (and if I’m honest with myself, I did have a friend who told me about this, and at the time I thought it was too extreme, and that I didn’t have the guts to do it, because I myself was addicted to carbs). In my previous post about what to do when you suspect your child is autistic, I said that if I could go back and know then what I know now, I would have started a GAPS or a SCD diet immediately. I constantly think of all the things I could have done differently but after reading this book, I would prioritize this as the MOST IMPORTANT INTERVENTION ALONGSIDE ONE ON ONE EDUCATION.
So here is why I tell you: don’t shy away from the work. You will soooo regret not doing this. I’m convinced that this diet is 50% of the solution (with the other 50% being training the brain through one on one intensive education and something like Brain Balance or Neurofeedback).
OK here is the explanation of why I recommend you do this diet summed up as simply as I can:
The idea of the diet is to replenish the good bacteria with pro-biotic foods like fermented vegetables (and perhaps some supplements), and at the same time starving the bad bacteria of it’s main source of nutrition: starches. The foods allowed on the diet are very nourishing and simple to digest, thus giving the stomach a chance to repair itself and supplying the body with nutrition. Essentially this diet is a complete sugar free, grain free diet (although fruits, and honey are allowed, just fyi). You do that for about 2 years or until your child has been symptom free for at least 6 months. Now before you throw your hands up in the air and say: no way, that’s too hard, let me tell you what it looks like after you’ve waited a few years and tried other stuff first (like the GFCF diet, Feingold, etc).
- Autism doesn’t go away or get better by doing nothing and waiting it out. In fact it gets worse and the gap to catch up to peers widens (which -you’ve guessed it- means more work for you, mama, or daddy)
- Trying easier things first only works for a little bit, because the root of the problem is still there. Only GAPS, or the SCD diet address and cure the actual problem in the gut.
- No matter how finicky of an eater your toddler is now, when he’s older he’ll be stronger, more verbal, and more finicky, and the tantrums and control battles are more aggressive and louder.
- Two years of work are nothing compared to the work you’ll have to put in if you don’t do it. You’re child will develop more food allergies, more intolerances, and refuse anything besides starch. Every meal is a battle.
Now what about the Gluten and Casein Free diet? I did that for 3 years now. At first we saw a huge improvement, and so will you, but it won’t last long. Here is what Dr. Campbell-McBride says about that:
“If you transfer this child to the GFCF diet, processed carbohydrates containing gluten are replaced with gluten free processed carbohydrates, made with rice, sugar potato starch, tapioca flour, soy, buckwheat flour etc. This sort of food will feed the abnormal flora in the child’s gut just as much as the previous diet did, perpetuating the vicious cycle of a damaged leaky gut and toxicity escaping from this leaky gut into the blood and brain. Of course the fact that out of dozens of various toxins, flowing from the gut into the body, two toxins have been removed -gluteomorphin and casomorphins – does some good.”
It does help a tiny bit, and I can testify to that, but it hasn’t solved his picky eating and carb addiction, and his gut flora is still a mess. In addition to those problems the gluten free products are very high on the glycemic index, even higher than the gluten containing ones (because gluten is a protein which slows down digestions, i.e. requires less insulin). High glycemic foods cause inflammation in the body. Children with autism already have chronic inflammation in their bodies and brains, so when you give them GFCF diets it doesn’t abate the inflammation, it makes it worse, and the bad bacteria are still fed.
Here are some resources to help you get started with a GAPS or SCD diet (by the way SCD stands for Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It has been around since the 1920′s with 90 years of scientific evidence to back up it’s effectiveness. However it wasn’t specifically created for autism. The GAPS diet is based on the SCD diet, but was specifically altered for patients suffering from autism, ADD, ADHD, etc.)
DISCLAIMER: I have not yet started this diet with Ezra. WHY? Because I have abnormal gut flora, and I have struggled with a carb addiction my whole life (thanks to not being breastfed, and having multiple courses of antibiotic treatments because of ear infections). It’s difficult to break this vicious cycle for me, but I know I will do it. I’m now in the process of purging my kitchen, taking the cooking class, and gearing up for a full blown assault on our collective digestive issues as a family.