What are the diet plans for my child with Autism?
You may find that there are several diet plans that are advised for Autism. However, it is advisable to consult with your child's nutritionist before starting with any particular diet plan. Currently, the few most commonly suggested diet plans for children with Autism, are:
Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Diet (GFCF)
The most specialized autism diet plan commonly prescribed for children on the spectrum is the Gluten free and Casein free diet (GFCF-diet).
There are several theories as to why the GFCF diet may be beneficial. One hypothesis is that individuals with Autism have difficulty digesting gluten & casein, causing the formation of peptides-gluteomorphin & casomorphin and their absorption into the bloodstream. These two peptides which appear to have chemical structure similar to opiates can cross the blood brain barrier and cause symptoms like delayed social and language skills & some behavioral issues.
Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye, barley, bulgur, durum, kamut and spelt, and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, flavorings, and artificial colors and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins.
Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk, such as cheese, cream, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whey and even some brands of margarine. It also may be added to non-milk products such as soy cheese and hot dogs in the form of caseinate. The GFCF diet for autism mainly eliminates all wheat (and wheat products) and milk (and milk products). Although it may sound difficult, several alternatives are easily available.
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
This diet excludes all complex sugars and starches (except honey & fruit sugar) in addition to gluten and casein. Eliminating sugars and starches starves out the yeast and bad bacteria (which feed on complex sugars), therefore helps reduce side effects created by yeast and bacteria overgrowth, which include gastrointestinal issues, headaches and hyperactivity.
In this diet for autism, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, certain beans, all non-starchy vegetables, and fruit are allowed. This is not a low carbohydrate diet but a specific carbohydrate diet. Diet focuses on non-starchy vegetables, fruit, honey, and certain beans for carbohydrates and avoids other sugars and starches.
Body Ecology Diet (BED)
The Body Ecology Diet is an anti-Candida autism diet plan focused on clearing up yeast and dysbiosis (imbalance of bad bacteria in the gut). Based on the concept of a natural balance of microorganisms that are involved in a range of functions in the body, and that this balance might be lacking in individuals with autism.
The three basic elements are adding cultured foods (such as yogurt and fermented vegetables), integrating "good" fats (flaxseed and extra virgin olive oil), and significantly reducing carbohydrate and sugar intake. Even if someone chooses a different diet, many of the Body Ecology principles can also be applied, such as the inclusion of fermented foods, soaking grains, and consuming more non-starchy vegetables full of minerals and alkalizing to the body. Fermented foods in particular are wonderful for supplying good bacteria that are known to reduce pathogenic bacteria such as clostridia, and for overall digestive and immune function.
Lutein-Free Diet (Sara's Diet)
This diet eliminates lutein, a pigment nutrient found in some fruits and vegetables such as spinach, corn, carrots, oranges and peaches. Lutein has been found to trigger severe allergic reactions, which often express themselves as gastrointestinal issues. This diet for autism also incorporates removal of soy and restriction of gluten and casein.
It is important to monitor and moderate the intake of certain additional food based substances while following any autism diet plan.