Сan A Child's Diet Really Have A Positive Effect On Autism? Experts Answer

Date May 15, 2018

Nowadays, autism becomes genetic problem number one all around the world. Prevalence of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is terrifying, to say the least: 1 to 59 children, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. That is much more children than those who are diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, and HIV combined. However, there is still no cure for the disease.

In extreme situations, people will try everything that might help because it is devastating to lose hope. This is especially true for an incurable disease like autism. Media has been promoting so many diets and supplements for the last years, but do they really work? Let’s find out what experts have to say!

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Experts' opinion the GFCF diet

Brian Udell, MD, director of the Child Development Center of America, says that there’s no official ASD diet. However, he suggests that the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet might help relieve digestive symptoms. This diet excludes gluten and two proteins: in wheat and in milk. Udell says, however, that only about 25% of his patients find improvement.

The doctor also recommends introducing the diet gradually simply by removing one type of the product and document the symptoms in a diary. It is better to start with the elimination of dairy and replacing it with almond milk, for instance.

Udell also suggests a high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for kids who have a seizure disorder. However, it should be supervised by a professional dietitian or physician, as the diet might lead to weight gain and increased level of cholesterol. A yeast- and sugar-free diet can be beneficial for some other children.

Kent Williams, MD, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is positive that there is a connection between the kids’ improvement and the GFCG diet. He believes that they are worth investigating and trying. However, there are some certain precautions. When introducing the diet, you exclude foods containing gluten and casein, which also contains essential vitamins and minerals. Hence, parents should compensate the possible deficiency via supplements.

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Facts about the GFCG diet

1. No 'cheat days'.

For the diet to work, the proteins and gluten should be excluded for good. Many studies show that breaking the diet even once a month can lead to significantly lower improvements.

2. Promising research.

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Different studies show different results, but all of them give hope at the very least. A survey by researchers from Penn State University found that the GFCF diet can improve symptoms even such as hyperactivity, temper tantrums, seizures, speech skills, and problems with eye contact.

3. Doesn’t work for everyone.

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It is yet to be explained why the diet helps some children, while has absolutely no effect on the others. It seems that children who have food allergies or chronic digestive issues benefit the most.

4. Getting expert help is key.

Only verified specialists, such as registered dietitian or well-informed in the GFCF diet physician can help to assess the child’s diet and determine whether they need additional supplements. He also can help to plan meals and snacks.

5. Having patience is important.

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Nobody can forecast when or even if the improvement will come. Some parents notice it within a matter of days or weeks, while the others bite their nails for months wondering and hoping for the diet to help. It is recommended to follow the diet at least for six months before making any judgments.

To sum up all of the above, we can say that although many studies show some positive results, no diet gives guarantee for any improvements. If you want to try introducing the GFCF diet – consult and cooperate with a verified dietitian. And most importantly, have patience.

                                                                                                               Source: WebMD, Parents, Autism Speaks

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.