To Your Health
October, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 10)
Various studies on the effects of following a gluten- and casein-free diet have been published over the past 12 years. In all but one study, a gluten- and casein-free diet was found to be beneficial in reducing autistic behavior and increasing social and communication skills. When gluten and casein were reintroduced to the diet, autistic traits became worse.
Allergies Also Play a Role
In addition to the peptide effect, there is often an accompanying inflammatory or allergic reaction to gluten and casein that can exacerbate the situation. This reaction compromises the integrity or permeability of the intestinal tract.
When the intestines become more permeable, there's a resulting increase in the amount of opiate-like peptides that are able to enter the bloodstream and brain. The more peptides present in the brain, the more severe the effects.
For this reason, it is important to identify and correct any factors that may affect intestinal permeability, such as gastrointestinal problems, food allergies, or poor digestion and absorption. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of autistic children experience these problems.
To maximize the benefits of a gluten- and casein-free diet, it is necessary to correct intestinal permeability. Food allergies, parasites, infections and poor sulphation, which is important in detoxification and maintaining gut lining, shouldn't be ignored. If these additional factors are not addressed, improvements in autistic symptoms may be slow and the gluten- and casein-free diet may be prematurely abandoned.
Enzyme and Probiotic Support
Support for intestinal integrity and permeability can involve treatment for food allergies, toxicity and intestinal parasites. A nutritional program to support the entire digestive tract is important and may include digestive enzymes, probiotics, healing herbs and amino acids.
Individuals suffering from food allergies often are unable to completely digest their foods. Digestive enzymes, which help break down and digest the proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber in the diet, can help with this problem.