Dietary Interventions


Ethan celebrates his 9th birthday with his usual GFCF cake shared with classmates and teachers

What causes Leaky gut?

Many professionals and parents believe that many children in the spectrum have damaged intestines. This damaged could have been caused by any of these factors: overuse of antibiotics at such a young age, yeast overgrowth, immunization, genetic predisposition and other environmental insults.

Please note that even if your child is not allergic to gluten and casein, it is still necessary to be on the GFCF diet. Ethan was clearly addicted to casein. Before his diagnosis, he consumed 8 sippy cups of formula (each cup was 8 oz) before going to bed. His face was literally covered with rashes, including the folds of his arms and the back of his knees. When I stopped giving him his casein fix, in a matter of 3 days, all his rashes disappeared. However, when I had his celiac antibodies tested, the results were normal. He can tolerate gluten but we still removed all sources of gluten from his diet because the issue is he cannot properly break down the proteins in food containing gluten. Thus, these proteins still escaped through the intestinal holes producing autistic-like symptoms/behavior. After successfully eliminating gluten and casein What from his diet, he appeared calmer and for the first time in several months, he slept like a baby. 

Environmental variables such as mercury exposure and the use of oral antibiotics, contribute to the compromised integrity of the gut thereby leading to a cascade of problems, including the gastrointestinal overgrowth of yeast and pathogenic bacteria, excess mucus production, immune responses, food allergies, etc. Diarrhea and constipation are common symptoms in autism, and are highly indicative of altered flora, food sensitivities, and an inability to digest and utilize food properly. Severe bowel pathology is common in autism, such as ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, increased intestinal permeability, inflammation, and enzyme deficiencies, all indicating suboptimal functioning. These problems are very painful and debilitating and have a significant impact on comfort, function, and social and developmental domains. Removing offending food that cannot be broken down into their most minute molecular elements is essential in restoring gastrointestinal health and functioning. Removing sources of stress or insult to the gut, repairing the subsequent damage, and reinoculating it with normal flora and supportive nutrient therapies are critical.

Gastrointestinal problems directly impact on mood, behavior, comfort, social interaction, academic attainment, language, and every aspect of development. the health of the GI system affects the functioning of the immune, detoxification, and neurological systems. The GI system is at the core of health for children with autism and creates the foundation for which more advanced DAN-based therapies can be better utilized.

There are several dietary approaches currently utilized in treating children with autism.  Among the most popular ones are Gluten Free / Casein Free (GFCF), Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) & Low Oxalate Diet. All work by removing dietary components that are thought to cause or contribute to ongoing gastrointestinal problems by forcing the gut to contend with proteins and/or carbohydrates it cannot properly digest and absorb. (source: Julie Przybyszewski)

© Ethan  2011