A nourishing diet and good digestion is essential for good health.
I have treated a number of children with ASD & ADHD lately who have seen substantial improvement in symptoms after adopting a gluten-free diet so I thought I would share with you some of the benefits of removing gluten from the diet.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains that can devastate our gut and immune system. There are a number of reasons why gluten has recently become problematic. This includes the modern day farming practice of spraying the herbicide Round-up on wheat just prior to harvesting, which can cause leaky gut and systemic inflammation in the body.
Recent scientific studies show that for many people with neurological conditions, digesting the protein in wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein) can be challenging. If gluten & casein are not properly digested, they can create opiate compounds. These opiate compounds fit into the opiate receptors in the brain and mimic other opiates like morphine. This leads to excessive levels of opiates causing symptoms commonly seen with ASD and ADHD such as irritability, sleep problems lack of focus, craving for wheat or dairy products and meltdowns.
As parents who are looking for strategies and solutions to deal with ASD or ADHD it’s important to understand the connections between what goes into the body and how it functions.
Isn’t Autism A Brain Condition?
ASD has long been considered a genetic condition and said to begin and end in the brain.
The Autism Research Institute has approached autism as a “whole body disorder,” since 1967, believing that the body’s biochemistry affects the brain. Harvard professor Martha Herbert M.D., Ph.D., states that there is a direct connection between the brain and behaviour.
This understanding helps to explain why children on the spectrum frequently exhibit physical symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and stomach pain, frequent infections, food allergies, asthma, eczema and sleep problems.
The mental and behavioural symptoms of ASD and ADHD include anxiety, depression, foggy thinking, antisocial behaviour, and inattentiveness.
What happens in the body’s organs and biochemistry, influences the brain of a child with autism. Harmful environmental toxins and stressors, negatively impact a child’s ability to learn and to control their emotions.
For many with ASD & ADHD, a combination of nutritional deficiencies, imbalanced biochemistry, digestive problems and inflammation underscores the physical, mental and emotional symptoms.
A gluten-free diet is potentially one of the key elements to help your child’s recovery from symptoms of autism. This has been well documented by parents and natural health practitioners specialising in this field. Children show improvement in their ability to focus, learn, and behave. These children can sometimes return to regular classrooms, and make substantial strides.
How Can My Expertise and a Gluten-Free Diet Help?
Although autism and ASD are complex conditions with many possible causes, gluten can be a major stressor on our children’s body and once removed, the body has a chance to repair and recover from the symptoms brought on by eating gluten.
When I became a nutritionist over 20 years ago, I was initially curious about the connections between food ingredients, artificial additives, and behaviours associated with ADD/ADHD.
My research revealed that many common symptoms of ASD & ADHD can be traced to what the child eats, their ability to digest and absorb the nutrients from the food, nutritional deficiencies, their toxic load and food allergies or intolerance.
For the majority of ASD & ADHD clients I treat, I initially advise them to go on a gluten-free (& casein-free) diet for 3 months. I usually see a positive improvement in learning, behaviour and ongoing health in about 80% of my clients so it’s a good place to start.
My individualised treatment protocol also includes nutritional supplements and homeopathic medicine to support the healing process and repair the gut.
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