In recent years, buzz has been building around gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) diet for kids with autism. Clinical trials on GFCF are showing promising results making it something worth trying, not to mention the many success stories you can read online.
So what is gluten-free/casein-free diet and why is everyone eager to switch their kids’ diet?
Gluten-free/casein-free diet is also known as GFCF diet. Gluten-free, simply put, is removing gluten or grain protein in one’s diet. Foods and drinks containing wheat, barley, rye, oats or anything made from these grains are avoided. Gluten-free diet is often, if not always, combined with casein-free diet. Casein is the chief protein in milk and the essential ingredient in making cheese. Casein-free means removing dairy products in one’s diet, that means no milk, cheese or yogurt.
Though there’s still a long way to go in terms of research and clinical testing, GFCF proponents suggest that children with autism have high sensitivity to foods containing gluten or casein. Children with autism, according to the theory, process peptides and proteins in foods containing gluten and casein differently than other people do. Hypothetically, this difference in processing may exacerbate autistic symptoms. Some believe that the brain treats these proteins like false opiate-like chemicals. The reaction to these chemicals, they say, leads a child to act in a certain way. The idea behind the use of the diet is to reduce symptoms and improve social and cognitive behaviors and speech.
Convinced? Ready to try? Here are some tips to consider before and after making the switch.