The GFCF (Gluten-Free, Casein-Free) Diet for Autism Kids

Gluten and casein get a lot of attention in the autism community and from doctors in the Autism Research Institute’s biomedical movement. Some parents, doctors and researchers say that children have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior after these substances were removed from their diet. Some also report that their children have experienced fewer bouts of constipation and diarrhea since starting a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet.

Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye, barley, bulgar, durum, kamut and spelt, and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, flavorings, and artificial colors and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins.

Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk, such as cheese, cream, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whey and even some brands of margarine. It also may be added to non-milk products such as soy cheese and hot dogs in the form of caseinate.

Some advocates of dietary intervention suggest removing one food from the diet at a time, so you will know which foods was causing a problem. It also is helpful to ask people who do not know about the dietary change if they see improvements after a few weeks.

It’s often suggested to remove milk first because the body will clear itself of milk/casein the quickest. Gluten may be removed a month after the elimination of milk. It may take up to six months on a gluten-free for the body to rid itself of all gluten. That is why most advocates suggest giving the diet a trial of six months.

Many kids adapt to the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) almond, potato, coconut or rice milk substitutes available. Look for varieties that are enriched with calcium and Vitamin D. Many parents provide vitamin and calcium supplements to their children on the diet.

Foods that can be eaten on a gluten-free and casein-free diet include rice, quinoa, amaranth, potato, buckwheat flour, corn, fruits, oil, vegetables, beans, tapioca, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, teff, nuts, eggs and sorghum, among others.

Besides gluten and casein, some parents report that removing corn or soy led to equal or greater improvements in their children. Because soy protein is similar to gluten and casein, some diet proponents recommend removing it if the child seems very sensitive or does not improve on the GFCF diet.



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