What’s all the fuss about the Gluten Free Dairy Free Diet?
I’d like to share the latest science behind how changes in diet can help children on the Autism spectrum. It is the protein fragments called peptides in foods that contain gluten and dairy that cause the most trouble. Casein is the major peptide found in all dairy products. Gluten is the primary peptide found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and kamut. Under ordinary circumstances, these peptides would be digested down to their amino acid building blocks. These would then be absorbed into the bloodstream and utilised in various parts of the body for the construction of new proteins such as muscle. However for ASD individuals, peptides from gluten and casein can damage the overly permeable gut membrane (causing leaky gut) and bind to opioid receptors in the brain making casomorphins and glutomorphins. If only partially digested, they may trigger an immune response. In spite of their diverse nature, gluten and casein both contain multiple repeats of certain amino acid chains, some of which are nearly identical to morphine. These compounds are often referred to as gliadomorphins and casomorphins and have been proven to cause a morphine-like response. Just as a person taking morphine or other opioid drugs would be likely to have impairments in concentration, judgment, motor skills, and cognitive reasoning, individuals unable to digest and metabolise gluten and casein may suffer these drug-like effects from seemingly healthy foods in their diet. Many, in fact, appear to be addicted to these foods and prefer to exclude most other nourishment like vegetables from their diets. This observation has become known as the opioid excess theory, and a rapidly growing body of evidence supports this theory for people on the spectrum.
An additional concern is the finding that antibodies directed against milk, gluten, corn, and eggs have the ability to cross react with brain tissue. In other words, if a person is unfortunate enough to be allergic to these foods, yet chooses to consume them, each exposure may stimulate his or her immune system to produce anti-brain antibodies. In the case of autism, several anti-brain antibodies have been identified both in children with autism and in their mothers. It is believed that this is one mechanism that is halted or diminished with the removal of these foods from the diet, leading to significant improvement.
While other foods may also be problematic, elimination of all gluten and dairy products will often lead to significant improvements in the majority of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorders, and many other conditions. It takes at least 6 months to achieve the full benefit of this intervention, as inflammatory changes in the bowel and nervous system will take many months to reverse and then we need to allow the process of healing to begin. The elimination of soy, artificial colours and flavours, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also highly recommended, as these are often problematic in terms of behaviour as well – not to mention they are just plain bad for your body.
There are over 150 papers now showing how diet affects autism, especially gluten and dairy. There are many reasons for ASD individuals to go GF CF:
* Gluten and dairy cause epigenetic reductions in glutathione, methylation and increase oxidative stress. ASD already have substantial deficits in these.
*Genetic snps in carbohydrate digestion and absorption contribute to the GI problems in ASD patients (we are writing this up at the moment).
*Gluten interferes with blood flow to the brain
*ASD people often have high levels of anti-deamidated gliadin peptide antibodies
*Research shows significant changes to areas of communication, attention, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression and physiology.
When faced with the request to remove all gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and junk food from their child’s diet, most parents will state that their child eats nothing else and will undoubtedly starve. Many of these children eat very little in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables and quite a few have elected to eat only bread/cereal/biscuits and milk or they may be also “meatarians”. In these cases, there is almost certainly inflammation in the bowel. By eating these bland foods they may feel better for a short time. Unfortunately, this perpetuates a cycle of inflammation, as the food is only partially digested, peptide fragments enter the bloodstream, the immune system becomes further stimulated to mount a response, and the anti-intestinal wall, and other antibodies are produced in even higher levels. We are well aware of the perceived difficulties that parents have. We also have a tried and tested method to help your child learn a new way to eat. Whilst it takes some effort on your part for a few months, it is worth it to have the whole family eating the same healthy meal and no longer being a short order cook.
Hopefully this helps to show that diet does indeed matter to these children. In order to begin the healing process we really must remove gluten and dairy from the diet of people on the spectrum. We can help you with this tricky process through our “Fussy Eaters Protocol”. The nutrigenomic supplementation protocol can then be adhered to in order to realign gene expression and bring these children to their potential.
Here are just some of the supporting scientific papers from the last few years:
Proc Nutr Soc. 2014 Oct 14:1-6 Nutritional management of autism: a case for gluten- and casein-free diets. Whiteley P1.
J Nutr Biochem. 2014 Oct;25(10):1011-8. Food-derived opioid peptides inhibit cysteine uptake with redox and epigenetic consequences. Trivedi MS1, Shah JS1, Al-Mughairy S1, Hodgson NW1, Simms B1, Trooskens GA2, Van Criekinge W2, Deth RC3.
An Pediatr (Barc). 2014 Nov 20 Gluten-free, casein-free diet in autism spectrum disorders; different perspectives. Alonso Canal L1, Isasi Zaragoza C2.
J Child Neurol. 2014 Dec;29(12):1718-27. Evidence of the gluten-free and casein-free diet in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review. Marí-Bauset S1, Zazpe I2, Mari-Sanchis A3, Llopis-González A4, Morales-Suárez-Varela M5.
Nutr Neurosci. 2014 Sep;17(5):207-13 Data mining the ScanBrit study of a gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders: behavioural and psychometric measures of dietary response. Pedersen L, Parlar S, Kvist K, Whiteley P, Shattock P.
Gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for autism spectrum conditions. Whiteley P1, Shattock P, Knivsberg AM, Seim A, Reichelt KL, Todd L, Carr K, Hooper M.
Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Nov;40(10):1187-201. Review article: intestinal barrier dysfunction and central nervous system disorders–a controversial association. Julio-Pieper M1, Bravo JA, Aliaga E, Gotteland M.
Nutr Res Rev. 2014 Dec;27(2):199-214. Autism and nutrition: the role of the gut-brain axis. van De Sande MM1, van Buul VJ1, Brouns FJ.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine , Volume 20 (6) – Dec 1, 2012 A pilot study to evaluate nutritional influences on gastrointestinal symptoms and behavior patterns in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Harris, Cristen; Card, Bethany
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders , Volume 46 (2) – Feb 1, 2016 Nutritional Impact of a Gluten–Free Casein-Free Diet in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Marí-Bauset, Salvador; Llopis-González, Agustín; Zazpe, Itziar; Marí-Sanchis, Amelia; Suárez-Varela, María
Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics , Volume 29 (3) – Jun 1, 2016 Living gluten‐free: adherence, knowledge, lifestyle adaptations and feelings towards a gluten‐free diet. Silvester, J. A.; Weiten, D.; Graff, L. A.; Walker, J. R.; Duerksen, D. R.
Ultrasonics Sonochemistry , Volume 29 – Mar 1, 2016. Statistical optimization of cell disruption techniques for releasing intracellular X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase from Lactococcus lactis spp. lactis. Üstün-Aytekin, Özlem; Arısoy, Sevda; Aytekin, Ali Özhan; Yıldız, Ece