How to Control Your Child’s Autism with Gluten-Free Diet?
BY DR. MITRAVINDA SAVANUR
There are various kinds of developmental disorders with which children are affected and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) need special mention in this regard. In this disorder, the child has problems in communicating and interacting socially. There are other indications of autism spectrum in children as well, including lack of eye contact, delayed speech, shyness, delayed gross and fine motor skills, obsessive type behaviours, mood fluctuations, sensory integration problems etc.
In recent trials and studies, it has been established that a gluten-free diet for children suffering from autism spectrum disorders has shown significantly positive results. It is true that there is no specific diet for children suffering from autism spectrum disorder, but refraining from casein and gluten is recommended. Gluten is nothing but a kind of protein, which is found in different kinds of grains like rye, barley and wheat. Casein is also a protein variety, which is found in different kinds of dairy products. Research has shown that 80% of children will get benefit from this kind of dietary change if it is followed in a strict manner. This is the reason that casein and gluten-free diet has gained immense popularity with parents of children who are affected with autism spectrum disorder.
How does a diet free from gluten and casein seem suitable for children suffering from autism spectrum disorder?
There is a theory which is based on the fact that children suffering from autism spectrum disorder might have high sensitivity or allergy to various kinds of foods which contain casein or gluten. This is because children suffering from this kind of disorder tend to process proteins and peptides in foods containing casein and gluten in a different manner than other people.
Hypothetically, it has been seen that the difference in the processing of the proteins might lead to exacerbation of autistic symptoms. In some researches and studies, it has been seen that the brain treats the proteins in a different manner – much like false opiate-like chemicals. There is a specific kind of reaction to these chemicals and this is evident in the manner that the child reacts in certain ways. This diet is recommended for reducing the symptoms of the disorder and improving cognitive and social behaviours and speech.
There are scientific merits attributed to behind a casein-free and gluten-free diet. In various kinds of research, it has been found that many children who suffer from autism spectrum disorders have abnormal levels of peptides in their body fluids. In such cases, one can definitely try opting for casein-free, gluten-free diet for dealing with symptoms of autism successfully. It is also true that elimination of all casein and gluten sources from foods is quite difficult; hence there are questions regarding the effectiveness of the same too.
Are there any eating tips on casein-free, gluten-free diet both
at home and outside?
Due to increased demands of casein-free and gluten-free diets, many retailers are specializing in food products for people who want to follow the GFCF diet. Many parents have been seen to prepare such meals in considerable proportions and freeze the same for later meals.
However, before you think of making any kind of change in your child’s diet, it is recommended to seek consultation from your pediatrician. There are licensed dieticians specialized in child food and they can provide proper education on GFCF diet. In fact, with the consultation of the pediatrician and the dietician, you will be able to tailor the diet for your child. This will not only help in meeting the health needs of the child but also keep his tastes and preferences in notice.
Many restaurants and eateries now have the option of offering casein-free and gluten-free foods to customers as per their needs and preferences. In fact, many of these restaurants display the list of ingredients, which are used in the making of a particular dish so that customers can check the same and ensure that the dish is casein-free and gluten-free.
It might happen that in the process of providing gluten-free and casein-free diet to your child suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the child misses out on some important nutrients, which are vital for the body. Thus consulting a pediatrician and a child nutritionist is very important.
Mitravinda is a Nutritionist at DietChart with a doctoral degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a teacher, researcher and an author. Her passion for the subject prompted her to start writing blogs on various nutrition-related topics such as List of foods rich in protein, Diet chart for weight loss, health benefits of green tea, etc. Through her blogs, she wishes to help people gain a deeper understanding about the relationship between food, nutrition, lifestyle and health.
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