Gluten free Casein free diet for Autism

A Gluten-free Casein-free diet is also commonly known as the GFCF diet. When one is following this diet all foods containing gluten and casein are eliminated from the daily dietary intake.

How does a gluten-free casein-free diet help in Autism treatment?

By following a GFCF diet it is observed by parents of autistic children that there is improvement in their speech and behavior.

In theory it is believed that children with autism can be allergic or sensitive to gluten or casein. Autistic children process peptides and proteins in food differently than others the chemicals which might be the end result of this processing are recognized by the brain as opiates. The reaction to these chemicals can precipitate autistic symptoms. Even though the above theory is not scientifically supported, parents of autistic children have seen considerable improvement in their children following the GFCF diet.

Foods that contain gluten

Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like barley, bran, wheat (kamut and spelt variety of wheat) and rye, malts (Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried in a process known as "malting".), and triticale (Triticale is a hybrid of wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale)). For a gluten free diet oats are also eliminated from diet though oats is not one of the gluten foods. As there is lots of chances of cross contamination by wheat / rye during milling, also oats may be contaminated when grown in rotation with wheat.

Foods that contain Casein

Casein is a protein found in dairy products and other foods containing dairy or lactose.

Risks of deficiencies for following gluten free casein free diet

GFCF diet leads to deficiency of nutrients like folate, iron, fiber and certain B vitamins. GFCF diet followers are at a risk for anemia (especially Iron Deficiency Anemia) and low blood calcium levels or poor bone health.

Tips for Following a GFCF Diet without leading to deficiencies:
  • Opt for whole foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts.
  • Carefully read the nutrition labels for Gluten and casein.
  • One can opt for gluten free oats for breakfast.
  • Opt for high fiber brown rice bread or brown rice for lunch.
  • One can opt for Quinoa as a side dish for dinner.
  • Include green leafy vegetables for your meals.

Adding these few things in your GFCF diet will help significantly improve the values of certain B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and zinc.

Do not self diet; always consult a Qualified Nutritionist who can guide you better.