Gluten Free Diet and Autism
The Gluten free diet and autism is a relatively new idea because the medical community was slow to make the connections of gastro-intestinal issues, leaky gut and food. The gluten free diet and the easing of autism symptoms link were ignored by some in the medical community relatively recently. Twelve years ago when I discovered that many mothers were seeing improvement in their children by taking this route, we were alone in exploring this protocol. As usual, the medical community would not listen to mothers who were achieving results. If their colleagues did not present hard evidence with peer reviews that showed proof, the mothers were not to be believed. As parents we did not have time to wait for peer reviews. We took action and tried something based on instincts because we were watching our children suffer with abdominal paid, irritability and lack of focus to mention a few symptoms. Commonsense is what we applied. In the end the medical community conceded and confirmed in various articles that the lessening of symptoms in Autism can be linked to the gluten free diet. And that the autism protocol had viability and value.
Children on the Autism Spectrum like my son might not be able to break down the protein in wheat because of enzyme deficiencies. However this is only part of the problem. The main reason for an allergic reaction or auto-immune response is the leaky gut. When protein is eaten it has to be broken down into peptides and amino acids. Amino acid production is the final step before absorption into the bloodstream for the nourishment of your body. The digestion and breakdown of proteins go through a two step process. Protein to peptides and peptides to amino acids which is then absorbed into the blood stream. Peptides are broken down into amino acids at the lining of the small intestines. If you have holes in your small intestines the peptides slips through without being properly broken down by the enzyme peptidase and slips into the blood stream where it wreaks havoc.
When gluten is not digested effectively negative side effects can occur. So what causes gluten sensitivity? It has been documented by various research scientists in the biological and medical field that children with autism suffer with severe gastro-intestinal issues. Many of them have yeast and bacterial infections that affect the gut flora. This over population of bad bacteria and yeast in the gut can cause something called leaky gut. Leaky gut syndrome is simply caused by yeast and bacteria eating away at the lining of the intestinal wall. Because the yeast is attaching itself to the cell wall, the cell wall is destroyed and appear to have holes from where food can escape. This is where the term originates. The most important reason for going on a gluten-free diet is that most children on the autism spectrum have some kind of challenge with the digestion and breakdown of the wheat gluten because of leaky gut.
Understanding – Gluten Free Diet and Autism
This inability to breakdown proteins into amino acids is an abnormal condition and can lead to allergies. How you might ask? Well, the undigested food is viewed as an invader by the immune system and as a consequence the immune system goes into action like an army would and produce certain antibodies to protect you. These antibodies are now developed to fight against the foods that you eat regularly like wheat gluten and milk protein (casein) but with a leaky gut, your immune system views these foods as bad and will produce antibodies to fight it. So if you go on to eat wheat protein you will have an allergic reaction.
Again, once these incompletely digested foods have passed through the intestinal wall – an allergic reaction will develop. Wheat protein (gluten) and milk protein (casein) are the major culprits for this allergic reaction. This is how a child will become allergic to the wheat protein – gluten. This is why you will need to place your child on a gluten free diet and allow the gut to heal. It should be pointed out that some behavioral reactions in children on the autism spectrum occur because of this allergic reaction to gluten.
Implementing – gluten free diet and Autism
When the gluten free diet is implemented to ease symptoms of autism, many positive results have been noted. Our children are more focused, less irritable and sleep better. Many of us in this community were motivated to switch to the gluten free diet and protocol because as mothers we will try anything that will ease the pain and suffering of our children.
Together, my son and I have been doing the gluten free diet protocol since 2003. The medical community have just caught up to us and many parents who have switched to a gluten free diet. The medical community has finally concluded that the idea of gluten free diet protocol is valuable.
Tackling the gluten-free diet is not as difficult as it appears. It might be challenging at first, but as time moves on you will become an expert as you learn to cook gluten free recipes. I remember when my son’s pediatrician said to me that I should eliminate all wheat and gluten products from my son’s diet, I panicked. Because I lived in this limited dietary environment, I was not aware of the cornucopia of non-gluten foods – vegetables and protein substitutes that would prove to be healthier not just for my son but our whole family. I hope you will seek out and try foods that you have never heard of before. Quinoa, Kamut, Amaranth and many more. I hope you go weekly to your local farmers market and learn about what is in season and try to prepared it for your family. I will be an active part of this gluten free diet and autism community so if you have any questions about this new eating lifestyle, know that I will be your go-to for support and encouragement.
In the beginning, potatoes and rice were my best friends. I was afraid to to start with the Gluten free diet protocol. I was like a scared child stuck in the corner afraid to come out. For many months I was trapped in the world of rice and potatoes. I finally came into the light when I was introduced to many of the alternatives by a good friend. I found out that corn was gluten-free. I discovered many of the ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth. I came across millet which is filled with iron and vitamins. The substitute gluten free flours like tapioca and potato flour can be combined with other gluten free flours like rice flour to make your favorite baked goods. Green plantains and green bananas are gluten free. They are a staples in Caribbean cooking. Green plantains can be made into tostones. It is a good bread substitute for breakfast.
I saved my son from a life in the throes of Autism. I employed the gluten free diet and autism over ten years ago when few people were doing it or even believed that it could work. I was also skeptical until it worked for my son.
There is a world of gluten free diet foods on the market. You just have to present an open mind and approach the change with a positive attitude. It will be all worth it when you witness the benefits of the gluten free diet for autism spectrum disorders and the positive effects it will have on your child. I can show you how to do the gluten free diet protocol.