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Food Allergies, Sensitivities and Autism

Congratulations Sharmista! You are the winner of the Nourishing Hope Autism Diet Handbook, Cookbook and DVD! Please email your full name and mailing address to lexieskitchen[at]gmail.com and I will get these shipped out to you. Enjoy and thank you for sharing that "diet has been a huge factor" in your daughter's recovery. Thank you moms, teachers, grandparents, aunts, and school counselors for sharing your personal stories. You are heroes!

Could this breakfast be having an opiate-like effect on your child?

This post is the third in a series of guest posts from my friend Julie Matthews of Nourishing Hope. Julie is a  Certified Nutrition Consultant and Autism Diet Specialist based out of San Francisco, California. She offers consulting in-office and around the globe via video-conference.

Julie Matthews | Guest Post 3
Autism Diet Effectiveness: Food Allergens and Sensitivities

Food allergies and sensitivities (and their accompanying symptoms) are common in children with autism.

A FOOD ALLERGY—IgE reaction—is an immediate immune response (sometimes life threatening) that includes symptoms such as a rash, hives, sneezing, or anaphylaxis.

A FOOD SENSITIVITY—IgG reaction—is a delayed immune response that includes chronic symptoms in the areas of inflammation/ pain, digestion, and energy/mood such as: headaches, GI inflammation, gut pain, diarrhea, constipation, hyperactivity, or anxiety to name a few in these areas. Food sensitivities can also trigger asthma attacks, migraine headaches, and eczema.

Because food allergies and sensitivities affect so many bodily systems, reducing them can make a significant difference in how a child feels and behaves. Parents routinely report that when they remove certain problematic foods from their child’s diet, common symptoms improve, like diarrhea and hyperactivity, and that children feel better and have greater capacity to pay attention. Clear of these immune system reactions, they often make big gains in language and other areas of learning and behavior.

The Most Problematic Foods/Substances—Gluten, Casein, Soy, and Corn

Autism parents are becoming familiar with the omission of gluten and casein, two of the most problematic substances in foods for children with autism. Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, and commercial oats, and casein is the protein in dairy. Wheat and dairy sensitivities are commonplace today, and not just with autism. Nine million people have gluten intolerance in the US.

Removal of gluten and casein—the gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) diet—is one of the most beneficial dietary interventions for autism. In addition to gluten and casein being food sensitivities and inflammatory, these foods can also turn into opiate-like compounds that directly affect the brain. These opiates produce foggy thinking, inattentiveness, irritability, addiction to the food, and constipation—all symptoms of morphine use/addiction. Therefore, you can imagine the enormous benefit most children experience when they remove gluten and/or casein from their diets.

When following a GFCF diet however, people commonly over substitute corn and soy in place of gluten and casein. Note though, that soy and corn are also common food sensitivities, and removal of these foods as well can make a profound difference on health, behavior, and attention for many people.

Soy is broken down in the digestive systems by the same enzyme that digests gluten and casein. It is common for parents to substitute soy for dairy. Soy is inflammatory to the gut, it’s known to inhibit thyroid function, contains strong estrogen compounds, and decreases absorption of calcium, magnesium, zinc and other minerals. For these reasons and more, I recommend avoiding soy whenever possible.

Corn is also a common allergen and food sensitivity. Corn is often substituted in place of gluten in many gluten-free foods and snacks such as: cold cereals, tortilla chips, popcorn, cornstarch, pasta (corn-quinoa), and other snack foods that often use corn or corn flour. In addition you can find corn in: dextrose, xanthan gum, xylitol, ascorbic acid (certain forms of vitamin C), caramel color, citric acid, and natural flavor. If you cannot fully avoid corn, ensure that the corn you do consume is organic, non-gmo corn.

Identifying and removing food sensitivities helps the body heal naturally and can improve digestion, behavior, sleep, rashes, and headaches (to name a few) in children with autism. If you have not started any dietary intervention for a child with autism, I suggest you begin with gluten-free and casein-free. If you have been on GFCF for a while, consider doing an additional trial of soy-free and corn-free and see if you find further healing and benefit.

Dietary intervention for autism requires development over time and identifying and removing food sensitivities are essential to overall effectiveness. While reactions/regressions can come and go, removing these common food sensitivities can help create a new level of consistency that allows you to see how you’ve progressed with diet, what is left to investigate. You may be pleasantly surprised how well everyone feels when you refine the consumption of these foods in your family’s diet.

Julie's Previous Posts Here at Lexie's Kitchen

Julie Matthews | Guest Post 1: Nourshing Hope for Autism
Julie Matthews | Guest Post 2: Food Matters for Autism

Reader Comments (8)

We follow the gfcf diet because my son has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is in the autism spectrum. We just started cutting out soy and corn, but it's very hard to do. I would love to go sugar free but have been unable to that so far.

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCassidyS

Yay! I'm so excited!!! Thank you!! :)

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSharmista

Thanks Lexie and Julie for continuing to raise awareness about food sensitivities! There are so many kids who would benefit from food sensitivity testing. i hope someday it will become routine.

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Thanks again to the both of you! You are doing so much to raise awarness!

Wow! What a perfectly written article. I love this. It is full of wonderful information. Thanks so much, Lexie, for continuing to share Julie with us here. This is what I have spent the last couple of years studying and could not agree with this more!

Short, sweet, and jam-packed with information. We are gfcf due to IgG. We do eat a little bit of organic soy (tofu or tempeh and tamari) but I think we need to watch our corn intake. It is always organic but still! Thanks for reminding me to be aware of this. One of the things I struggle with is always telling my son NO when it comes to food. There's so much that he sees he can't have. And when he does have something, like organic corn puff cereal, and he wants more, I say no. Know what I mean? I worry that one day he'll go out of control when he has more control over his own diet.

March 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

Great informative post. I do worry about corn as a substitute for wheat, and also rice since these are the two most common substitutes for gluten free diets. Are you familiar with the IgG4 test? I have been told this is a more accurate test, but not sure.

March 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette

I found this quite interesting. Out of curiosity I looked into the peanut allergy epidemic in the UK. Why would they have a peanut allergy epidemic in the UK? I ate PB by the 5# bucket and fed it to my kids. How can there suddenly be such a huge problem with deadly food allergies. When I was a kid, food allergy was rare and mild. You never heard of anyone who could die just from smelling cookies baking!

So I used the Internet and started reading. I was shocked at what I found out.

Pharmaceutical companies can "self affirm" generally recognized as safe ingredients. What this means is they pay a private company to do one study on the safety of peanut oil. They have a peer review by people they select. Then they are free to use the ingredient in ALL pharmaceuticals. Nothing ever appears on the package insert. It is a protected trade secret - which is protected by international trade agreements. Nothing is ever submitted to any government.

So your doctor is injecting peanut oil, soy oil, evening primrose oil, wheat germ oil... etc into your child without knowing it. You can find a listing of what ingredients they can be using if you read patents on line. Every food oil known to man is listed. Fish oil. Shellfish oil.

And it doesn't stop there. Casein is one of the ingredients that is actually listed as an ingredient. Soy is listed.

And wheat is used to make the gel that is used for the culture medium. The culture medium is also interesting. It is only the FINAL culture medium that appears on the package insert. Up until then FOOD waste is used. And if you want to read patents on line, you will find that every food known to man is listed.

It only takes a tiny tiny amount of food protein to be in the vaccine given to your child to cause a food allergy. The vaccine adjuvant makes the body extremely sensitive to any protein in the vaccine.

So the only question is why don't all children develop food allergies from the vaccines? I believe it is because the food protein in any batch of vaccine is such a small amount that every shot doesn't have the protein in it.

Currently 1 in 10 Australian children under 3 are expected to have a severe food allergy. And if you are to believe the so-called allergy experts who have "no idea" how this food allergy epidemic could be occuring, it is because we are "too clean". They came up with that idea because food allergies do not exist in unvaccinated third world countries.

Because autistic children have food allergies along with autism, and the food allergies are most probably caused by vaccinations, I believe this is another reason to believe that it is the vaccinations that are a major factor in autism.


July 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbarb

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