Casein Free and Gluten Free Diet: Affect on Children with Autism and ADHD
1. What is a casein free diet?
A casein free diet is where dairy (protein) is removed or any other food product containing casein.
Fortified cereals, ice cream, processed meats, salad dressings are just a few of the foods that could contain casein. In order to know for sure if a particular food contains casein be sure to read the label. It sometimes is not obvious that the particular food item contains dairy product or casein.
2. What is a gluten free diet?
A gluten free diet eliminates the wheat, barley, rye, oats, and any products made from these grains.
3. How do these products affect kids with autism?
The most studied theory is that eating or drinking milk protein leads to high levels of protein by-products, called casomorphines, in some children with autism. These by-products may then affect behavior like a drug would. Specifically, in these children, casomorphines could reduce their desire for social interaction, block pain messages, and increase confusion. If milk protein is taken out of the diet, the idea is that this will reduce the level of casomorphines, and behavior will improve as a result.
Some children with autism and ADHD experience gastrointestinal difficulties, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, blood toxification and allergic reactions to foods.
4. What may be in dairy that may cause these problems?
About a dozen pesticide residues are commonly found in non-organic cow's milk. (The source of these pesticides, of course, is the food that the cows were given to eat.) Also commonly found are hormonal residues from hormones that were given to the cows prior to milking, as well as antibiotics. Finally, from cow's milk products like cheese, cream, or butter packaged in plastic containers, residues of the plastic itself are found in the dairy products. These residues are called packaging migrants, and they include the substances DEHP and DEHA (diethylhexyl phthalate and diethylhexyl adipate).
5. Research for Casein or Gluten Free Diets?
- Kalle Reichelt, M.D. of the Pediatric Research Institute in Oslo, Norway has been researching the impact of gluten and casein intolerance on certain individuals with developmental delays for many year. See his Collected Net Articles. They are very enlightening, somewhat technical and include many references to published studies. The articles include: food intolerances, diet, mental disease, autism, schizophrenia, celiac disease, intestinal permeability, milk protein, ADHD, downs syndrome, soy intolerances, and more. An 80K page.
- Paul Shattock at the U. of Sunderland in the UK has a page on The Use of Gluten and Casein Free Diets with People with Autism. Also a paper on Back to The Future: An assessment of some of the unorthodox forms of biomedical intervention currently being applied to autism.
- Dr. Robert J. Cade of the University of Florida has been studying "exorphins" in the genesis and treatment of autism and schizophrenia. See letter and attachment that he at one time sent out to parents that contacted him. This dates from before his study was finished. In the attachment is some background and the early results of their study.
- autism-diet.com is Dr. J. Robert Cade MD's site. Covers research, diet, people and resources. [now in archive.org]
- Univeristy of Maryland Researchers Discover "Key" to Blood-Brain Barrier is a press release on the identification of a receptor in the human brain that regulates the interface between the bloodstream and the brain.
- From the top proponent of increased intestinal permeability: Leaky Gut Syndromes: Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Leo Galland, M.D.
- John Coleman's Opioids In Common Food Products-Addictive Peptides In Meat, Dairy and Grains is an easier read than the Reichelt page, from which much of it is based. You will see that there is no evidence for John to also include meat, except that as a vegan he also avoids it.
- The origins of agriculture – a biological perspective and a new hypothesis by Greg Wadley and Angus Martin argues that the shift to cultivation and animal domestication was due to the "comfort" derived from the opioid peptides from gluten.
The most important thing to remember about any intervention is for the child to be examined by a qualified practitioner to ascertain the degree if any of intolerance to casein or gluten. Nutrition must be examined to aid in children's ability to cognitively process and self-regulate but again it depends on the child and their own particular needs.