Nutrition may be an important part of treatment and management of autism.
Behavioral improvements have been seen in some children following a gluten and casein free (GFCF) diet. Early research shows these ingredients may affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye; casein is found in dairy. About 25% of those with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty processing these proteins. Increased intestinal permeability has also been found in about a 1/4 of people with ASD.
A GFCF diet may improve their digestive symptoms, but not all people on the spectrum benefit from a GFCF diet and for some it may be overly restrictive. Food aversions are common and may increase risk for nutritional deficiencies. The diet should be done under the supervision of a medical profession like a registered dietitian. The GFCF diet isn’t the only one tried by parents of children with ASD.
Others include, removal of:
- Artificial colors
- Flavors & preservatives
The organization ‘Autism Speaks’ says more research is needed to determine whether any of this eating plans are effective.