Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets for Autism Put to the Test

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets for Autism Put to the Test
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The results of the first randomized, controlled study of a dietary intervention for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The so-called “opioid-excess theory of autism” is that when certain wheat and dairy proteins are ingested, morphine-like protein fragments are created that then leak into the bloodstream, cross into the brain, and cause neurological damage that can manifest as autism. The whole theory started with the apparent discovery of these opioid peptides in the urine of children with autism, but missing from the urine of children who develop normally. But, a decade later, a more specific test failed to find urinary opioid peptides in children with autism. The spectral analysis of urine from autistic children—the pink line here—is practically identical with that of those without autism. And so, the whole theory was called into question…until, a more sensitive test was developed.

“Elevated concentrations of circulating casomorphins…, the exogenous opioid peptides from [bovine] milk casein, may contribute to the [development] of autism in children.” But, “[b]ecause several…studies failed to detect casomorphins in autistic children,” this was called into question. “Here, however, [they] demonstrated…that autistic children [do indeed] have [evidence of] significantly higher levels of urine bovine [casomorphins than normal children]. Furthermore, “[t]he severity of autistic symptoms correlated with [casomorphin] concentrations…” The more casomorphins they had flowing through their body, the worse their autism symptoms tended to be. “Because [casomorphins] interact with opioid and serotonin receptors, the known modulators of synaptogenesis [—the creation of nerve-to-nerve connections within the brain—] maybe “chronic exposure to elevated levels of bovine [casomorphins] may impair early child development, setting the stage for autistic disorders.” But you don’t know, until you put it to the test.

If increasing exposure to casomorphin opioids from cow’s milk is correlated with increasing severity of autism symptoms, why not just try giving kids opioid-blocking drugs? That’s such the medical mentality.

Instead, why not try to treat the cause with a dietary intervention? Not only to see if, indeed, it even is a cause, but if it is, to see if we can actually help these children. It started with case reports like this, where a seven-year-old girl with autistic behavior was described as benefiting from a gluten-free, casein-free diet—a quite remarkable case in which, “[o]ver [a] period of two years, the girl changed from being severely withdrawn to a normally communicating child who enjoy[ed] the company of others.” And, her dramatic improvements seemed to correlate with decreasing urine peptide levels after one year, then two years. Okay. But, maybe this one case was just a fluke.

Some docs figured it was worth a try, and published spectacular results like this—claiming 80% of their autistic children improved after three months of a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Even just specifically cutting out the cow’s milk protein, the casein, appeared to lead to “marked improvement in…behavioural symptoms.” But, none of these studies had a control group. It wasn’t until 2002 when the first “Randomised, Controlled study of [a] Dietary Intervention in Autistic Syndromes” was published. Twenty children with autism, half randomized to a gluten- and casein-free diet for a year, tested before and after. And…those on the diet did better. Did better how?

Here’s where the “resistance to communication and interaction” scores of all 20 kids started out in the diet group and the control group. This is the before. If there was no change after a year for any of the kids, the bars would end up looking like this—the same before and after. The gray is the before; the black is the after. But, the control group actually ended up like this; so, two got better. (Remember this is resistance to communication and interaction; so, the lower the better.) Two got worse, and the rest were just as bad off as they were when they started. But, in the diet group, they all got better.

Social isolation scores. Again, the lower the better. In the control group, half got better; half got worse, or stayed the same. In the diet intervention group, they all got better.

Overall, in terms of total impairment, half got better, and half got worse in the control group, but in the diet group, they all got better.

What does that mean in terms of real-life terms, instead of just numbers? All the kids started out sharing “the most common [autistic] trait”—lack of relationships with their peers, ignoring other children, or “not know[ing] how to interact. Some…had abnormal temper tantrums…or strange emotional [reactions]…, like laughing when other people cried.”

“Extreme anxiety” was noted in some of the children in response to common situations. “These unusual emotions were drastically reduced in the diet group, but not in the control group. Inability to take other people’s perspective and lack of empathy [are] also [other] common [autistic] traits. Some of the children could suddenly hit or bite others, or…[would] make negative comments. Progress was made regarding development of empathy in the diet [group], but not in the control group. Some children also disliked and rejected physical contact, even from their parents. This was no longer a problem [after a year on the diet].”

“While none of the changes were significant in the control group, significant [positive] changes were registered in the diet group, regarding peer relationship[s], anxiety, empathy, and physical contact.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Lance Neilson. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The so-called “opioid-excess theory of autism” is that when certain wheat and dairy proteins are ingested, morphine-like protein fragments are created that then leak into the bloodstream, cross into the brain, and cause neurological damage that can manifest as autism. The whole theory started with the apparent discovery of these opioid peptides in the urine of children with autism, but missing from the urine of children who develop normally. But, a decade later, a more specific test failed to find urinary opioid peptides in children with autism. The spectral analysis of urine from autistic children—the pink line here—is practically identical with that of those without autism. And so, the whole theory was called into question…until, a more sensitive test was developed.

“Elevated concentrations of circulating casomorphins…, the exogenous opioid peptides from [bovine] milk casein, may contribute to the [development] of autism in children.” But, “[b]ecause several…studies failed to detect casomorphins in autistic children,” this was called into question. “Here, however, [they] demonstrated…that autistic children [do indeed] have [evidence of] significantly higher levels of urine bovine [casomorphins than normal children]. Furthermore, “[t]he severity of autistic symptoms correlated with [casomorphin] concentrations…” The more casomorphins they had flowing through their body, the worse their autism symptoms tended to be. “Because [casomorphins] interact with opioid and serotonin receptors, the known modulators of synaptogenesis [—the creation of nerve-to-nerve connections within the brain—] maybe “chronic exposure to elevated levels of bovine [casomorphins] may impair early child development, setting the stage for autistic disorders.” But you don’t know, until you put it to the test.

If increasing exposure to casomorphin opioids from cow’s milk is correlated with increasing severity of autism symptoms, why not just try giving kids opioid-blocking drugs? That’s such the medical mentality.

Instead, why not try to treat the cause with a dietary intervention? Not only to see if, indeed, it even is a cause, but if it is, to see if we can actually help these children. It started with case reports like this, where a seven-year-old girl with autistic behavior was described as benefiting from a gluten-free, casein-free diet—a quite remarkable case in which, “[o]ver [a] period of two years, the girl changed from being severely withdrawn to a normally communicating child who enjoy[ed] the company of others.” And, her dramatic improvements seemed to correlate with decreasing urine peptide levels after one year, then two years. Okay. But, maybe this one case was just a fluke.

Some docs figured it was worth a try, and published spectacular results like this—claiming 80% of their autistic children improved after three months of a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Even just specifically cutting out the cow’s milk protein, the casein, appeared to lead to “marked improvement in…behavioural symptoms.” But, none of these studies had a control group. It wasn’t until 2002 when the first “Randomised, Controlled study of [a] Dietary Intervention in Autistic Syndromes” was published. Twenty children with autism, half randomized to a gluten- and casein-free diet for a year, tested before and after. And…those on the diet did better. Did better how?

Here’s where the “resistance to communication and interaction” scores of all 20 kids started out in the diet group and the control group. This is the before. If there was no change after a year for any of the kids, the bars would end up looking like this—the same before and after. The gray is the before; the black is the after. But, the control group actually ended up like this; so, two got better. (Remember this is resistance to communication and interaction; so, the lower the better.) Two got worse, and the rest were just as bad off as they were when they started. But, in the diet group, they all got better.

Social isolation scores. Again, the lower the better. In the control group, half got better; half got worse, or stayed the same. In the diet intervention group, they all got better.

Overall, in terms of total impairment, half got better, and half got worse in the control group, but in the diet group, they all got better.

What does that mean in terms of real-life terms, instead of just numbers? All the kids started out sharing “the most common [autistic] trait”—lack of relationships with their peers, ignoring other children, or “not know[ing] how to interact. Some…had abnormal temper tantrums…or strange emotional [reactions]…, like laughing when other people cried.”

“Extreme anxiety” was noted in some of the children in response to common situations. “These unusual emotions were drastically reduced in the diet group, but not in the control group. Inability to take other people’s perspective and lack of empathy [are] also [other] common [autistic] traits. Some of the children could suddenly hit or bite others, or…[would] make negative comments. Progress was made regarding development of empathy in the diet [group], but not in the control group. Some children also disliked and rejected physical contact, even from their parents. This was no longer a problem [after a year on the diet].”

“While none of the changes were significant in the control group, significant [positive] changes were registered in the diet group, regarding peer relationship[s], anxiety, empathy, and physical contact.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Lance Neilson. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

This is the third in a six-video series on the role of gluten- and dairy-free diets in the treatment of autism. Here are the first two:

Stay tuned for:

Casomorphins may also play a role in crib death (SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome):

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

101 responses to “Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets for Autism Put to the Test

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  1. Hello,

    Once again, I’m learning a lot from watching this video. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, you make us stronger. Our children also thank you, they will benefit through us, your valuable scientific data. A knowledge that unfortunately is not taught in schools. The biggest “sin” of parents is to teach ignorance to their children … African proverb




    17
    1. Given that both autism and Alzheimer’s share at least one common etiological condition – increased leakage in the blood brain barrier – makes me wonder what effect eating a casein and gluten-free diet might have on Alzheimer’s patients in reversing their cognitive dysfunctions. I did a quick search on PubMed, but did not find anything specific, just beginning epidemiological work on potential associations with diet (like https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/800390 ), but this seems to me like a research project worth a trial run.




      6
  2. At 4:28 in the video you say that all the subjects in the diet group had improved results, but only 2 black bars appear for the 10 subjects. If this is just a video animation problem you should fix it.




    8
    1. I seem to be viewing the graph differently, in that all the diet group got better, i.e. the black “after” bar is either lower than the grey before bar or has diminished to zero.

      This is Dr. G’s discussion of the graph for the transcript:

      ‘Here’s where the “resistance to communication and interaction” scores of all 20 kids started out in the diet group and the control group. This is the before. If there was no change after a year for any of the kids, the bars would end up looking like this—the same before and after. The gray is the before; the black is the after. But, the control group actually ended up like this; so, two got better. (Remember this is resistance to communication and interaction; so, the lower the better.) Two got worse, and the rest were just as bad off as they were when they started. But, in the diet group, they all got better.”

      Hope this clarifies the matter.




      3
    1. So it took me some digging, but I was able to access the article “Effect of a dietary intervention on Autistic Behavior” that showed the GFCF group showed such better gains after the one year period.

      It was a small (10 pairs of children not controlled for by gender and only 9 pairs completed the study) yoked by severity of parent reported diagnosis as measured by 18 questions (only 17 questions of which were used) study. Compare this to the ADOS-2 which is direct testing and the ADI-Rbwhich is an exhausting 3+ hour questionare that combined are the gold standard for diagnosis and assessing severity of impact.

      The use of the Leiter was a very good choice of nonverbal IQ measure however.

      The study reported that they were not able to track the quality of the 1:1 services over the course of the year that individuals were receiving because participants lived too far apart.

      The study acknowledged that simple maturation could explain the results and that they were unable to complete the end of study urinalysis to compare the groups.

      They did not monitor compliance to the diet. It was all self report. As was the reported severity, which is an important clinical service delivery metric but concerning for a research article.

      SES was NOT mentioned as a controlled factor. Gender was explicitly not controlled.

      It was one way blinded, ie the researchers didn’t know which child was which group or pair. But the respondents to the 17 questions giving answers on a 5 point likert-like rating scale did know.

      I’d like to see a stronger and more recent study replicating these results that controlled for SES (social-economic status) as that is a known predictor both for healthier diets AND better treatment for ASD/outcomes; matching by gender as we know know that their are different patterns in presentation and severity for male vs females with an ASD diagnosis; with a larger sample size (always a research challenge; completed pre and post data sets instead of partials; and strong ASD severity metrics than the one used – ideally: ADOS and ADI-R confirmed diagnosis and severity measures or even the ADOS and the PDDBI which while not great, has the value of being much more detailed acrossed many more areas of potential impact, and is currently used for TriCare (USA military insurance) outcomes testing to evaluate efficacy So has a larger sample pool AND standardizes severity scores with age controls. Also, the PDDBI is standardized on individuals with ASD whereas to the best I can tell, the DIPAB used in this study is only on children displaying “psychotic behaviors”




      4
      1. Correction: the DIPAB was normed on 392 danish children.

        I would still prefer a strong research tool with greater sensitivity and specificity across more domains of functioning.




        2
      1. Hi Shireen,

        Thank you for your email. I know for a fact that coming off gluten and dairy will reverse ADD, migraines, anxiety / depression and learning disabilities in people who are gluten sensitive and dairy intolerant. I have seen it happen. It has to be absolutely all gluten and dairy for results.

        Best,

        Maryellen Stamos RN Nurse Consultant

        Whole Food Plant Based Educator & Chef

        mestamoswfpbn@comcast.net mailto:mestamoswfpbn@comcast.nethttp://www.realsimpleoptimalhealth.com/




        0
  3. It could mean you would also benefit from removing gluten if you have a more or less leaky gut, many peoples experimented these bénéfits and it seems this problem is not that rare nowadays!




    2
      1. I do gluten free because of a wheat allergy, but I never go down the “gluten-free isle” as it’s mostly just very processed junk food laden with animal products and/or palm oil.
        There’s actually a number of naturally gluten free whole grains, lucky for me.




        4
    1. I was actually talking to someone about the gluten thing lower down here in comments, and I had mentioned how despite my wheat allergy, when I was little I did great on spelt as a replacement (spelt contains gluten and is an ancient form of wheat). I knew wheat had been altered from long ago, and she mentioned how it was hybridized saying that the glutens are different in other grains compared to it. I’ve heard bits and pieces of this before. It definitely lines up with the fact that I never had a problem with spelt. I’m going to experiment with pure rye and such and see how I do. I would love more insight on the difference of gluten in modern day wheat vs. ancient grains.




      2
      1. The modern gluten is stronger(harder to digest for our digestive system) and is present in higher amount in modern grains, small spelt or einkorn contains much less gluten and a weaker one, not easy to make a classic bread from it~




        1
  4. I have a question on pre-Autism and defiantly not to put a burden on anyone’s shoulders, just trying to understand. Could this mean that perhaps like all genes we receive from our parents that one or the other of our parents had a predisposition to leakage or thinning of these critical areas and then the SAD diet found a weaker area to pass through creating a predisposition in a child? I read an article over 20 years ago, that a scientist thought that what we eat, drink and do today, will affect our progeny for all generations, unless we turn that tide. Reminded me of the (paraphrase) we should make decisions today with caution because they will affect 7 generations hence.

    Sorry, got a little off track. It’s an interesting subject, because it seems like not that long ago, most people thought that Autism was a form of mental illness hardwired wrong in the brain, not something that could be attributed to diet. The more I read, the more diet begins to encompass so much. I love learning!




    13
    1. Your thoughts on pre-Autism are interesting, TofuAnnie, but the research on Autism is still in developmental stages, so any concrete statements on development of vulnerability to autism will be much further down the road. Certainly worth considering that if we practice unhealthy nutrition it may indeed not only negatively affect us but our offspring, but finding research showing definitive patterns is not there yet. Glad you’re loving the learning that this site promotes and eating better because of it.




      3
    2. I think there is research indicating that epigenetic changes resulting from diet ARE passed down genetically to more recent generations.

      This might be seen as reverse eugenics…where the corporate controlled food system is genetically reforming the population. While certain religious and maybe corporate groups heavily promote population growth.

      So lots and lots of “deformed”…at least from a “natural state”…humans are the future?

      This might be the result of “groupie” behavior…where all those NOT near the autism spectrum…get together and reproduce….drink lots of milk and eat cookies? LOL.




      1
    1. @Jerry: the attempts to link autism to vaccines have been decidedly proving to fall into the same category as research trying to say tobacco, eggs, meat and dairy are essential to a physically healthy life.




      14
      1. Vaccine by itself is not the main problem but it is the mercury inside the vaccine as preservative plus giving a tons to a child at a young age.




        7
            1. This is more misleading nonsense from you Jerry.

              Mercury was taken out of childhood vaccines in the US over 15 years ago.
              https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal/index.html

              Don’t you ever bother doing any fact-checking? Or do you just love your alternative health conspiracy theories so much that you just don’t care?
              https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal/index.html

              But your behaviour is beyond a joke. Virtually every ‘fact” that you relate here on NF turns out to be false. The damage you could do to the health of people might naively believe you is incalculable. This is a prime example.




              3
                1. Jerry. You were banging on about mercury being a major problem. Now you know there was actually no mercury in those vaccines, you suddenly decide that another substance is a major problem. Yes, 2-PE is a major problem – as your link notes
                  “Generalized contact eczema due to 2-phenoxyethanol has been described in a single case report. In the United States, an 18-month-old boy with a strong family history of atopic dermatitis and immediate-type allergy developed generalized eczema twice, both times within 24 hours of routine administration of DTP vaccine.[30] ”

                  And who says I am sick? Only you Jerry, only you. Yet another Jerry-invented “fact’ like all the others. Sigh …. Why do you make stuff up all the time? It’s just not normal, Jerry.

                  I don’t know whether you cynically fabricate “facts” as part of your trolling campaign or whether your mind is such that you genuinely believe your own fantasies. If the former, you are morally sick. If the latter, you are in poor mental health. Either way, you are a menace and need help.




                  2
                  1. TG, you are pathetic and desperate. Yes vaccine is a major problem given the onslaught of vaccines they are given to infant and children, the last time I heard is about 50. My kids are all grown up and my entire family, down from my 96 year old dad to myself, my wife, etc. we take no vaccine whatsoever and so we are not familiar anymore with the latest poisons that big pharma put in those vaccines. So now I learn that they pull out mercury from some vaccines but not all, so that not to scare people, but substitute with 2-PE and aluminum which as equal or more toxic. And the biggest danger is the onslaught of vaccines given to infants at birth before they can develop their immune system. So without getting into the details and I don’t care, I avoid vaccines unless it is absolutely necessary, which is about a dozen of vaccines that you need to have. Since I don’t have a need to know, why do I have to “research” about drugs like you who even took drugs that fry your liver and pancrea and are still proud of it and you praise its merits like if it is kale? No wonder why you are so sick, from your brain down to your physique, all because of your stubbornness to accept new facts. It is not like you are not exposed to new info and misinformed. You are but simply stubborn and narrow minded and have preconception.




                    1
      2. A strong association found between vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders:

        http://www.oatext.com/Pilot-comparative-study-on-the-health-of-vaccinated-and-unvaccinated-6-to-12-year-old-U-S-children.php#Article

        See also: http://www.ageofautism.com/2017/05/pilot-comparative-study-on-the-health-of-vaccinated-and-unvaccinated-6-12-year-old-us-children.htm

        “Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year-old U.S. children”

        Abstract
        Vaccinations have prevented millions of infectious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths among U.S. children, yet the long-term health outcomes of the vaccination schedule remain uncertain. Studies have been recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine to address this question. This study aimed 1) to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children on a broad range of health outcomes, and 2) to determine whether an association found between vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD), if any, remained significant after adjustment for other measured factors. A cross-sectional study of mothers of children educated at home was carried out in collaboration with homeschool organizations in four U.S. states: Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oregon. Mothers were asked to complete an anonymous online questionnaire on their 6- to 12-year-old biological children with respect to pregnancy-related factors, birth history, vaccinations, physician-diagnosed illnesses, medications used, and health services. NDD, a derived diagnostic measure, was defined as having one or more of the following three closely-related diagnoses: a learning disability, Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. A convenience sample of 666 children was obtained, of which 261 (39%) were unvaccinated. The vaccinated were less likely than the unvaccinated to have been diagnosed with chickenpox and pertussis, but more likely to have been diagnosed with pneumonia, otitis media, allergies and NDD. After adjustment, vaccination, male gender, and preterm birth remained significantly associated with NDD. However, in a final adjusted model with interaction, vaccination but not preterm birth remained associated with NDD, while the interaction of preterm birth and vaccination was associated with a 6.6-fold increased odds of NDD (95% CI: 2.8, 15.5). In conclusion, vaccinated homeschool children were found to have a higher rate of allergies and NDD than unvaccinated homeschool children. While vaccination remained significantly associated with NDD after controlling for
        other factors, preterm birth coupled with vaccination was associated with an apparent synergistic increase in the odds of NDD. Further research involving larger, independent samples and stronger research designs is needed to verify and understand these unexpected findings in order to optimize the impact of vaccines on children’s health.

        Authors: Anthony R Mawson
        Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
        Brian D Ray
        President, National Home Education Research Institute, PO Box 13939, Salem, OR 97309, USA
        Azad R Bhuiyan
        Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
        Binu Jacob




        5
        1. Of you read the entire text of the first study you cited, and it doesn’t support your argument. The oattext.com article spends most of its time pointing out that homeschools are democratically different in a variety of variables from homeschoolers, and note it combined ASD and ADHD with other NDDs I order to build enough power to detect anything. That is a major confound.

          It also pointed out that preterm birth was more strongly associated with issues than full term birth. No surprises there.

          The other link I could not get to load on my phone, but the website you sourced it from is a cherry picking as the Philip Morris company and makes clear it has only the goal of linking and generating more fear about vaccines. It too does not do a good job of evaluating the studies for bias, methods, etc. and many of the studies listed do not, when read in their entirety, support a link either.




          4
      3. Matt-
        I think you need to look at a more balanced source on your vaccine research. You seem to have absolutely determined the answer in this case. What I have seen leans the other way.
        John S




        3
      4. Thanks Jerry Lewis for mention vaccins – the more vaccins in one shot the higher the chance of getting problems like autism. Every parents should watch VAXXED to be informed. This assassins from the pharma industry playing with our children only for money. If casein and gluten goes over the blood-brain-barrier, by one but not by all, we have also to look why. Most of the first symptomes of autism are watched after they got the 6times vaccins… but “psst”, don’t speak loudly… the vaccin-pharma-lobbyists have the gouverment just lulled… :-(




        5
    2. Before people fight about vaccines let’s just point out that the government and big pharma don’t usually have people’s best interests in mind…. So questioning what they say it’s not a reason to throw people under the bus.

      Jerry Lewis isn’t wrong about everything guys. This is about science…. Not your bias against Jerry Lewis.

      Personally I think vaccines need to be looked at and studied for safety. I know people who have been badly affected by vaccines. It happens.




      6
      1. The empirical evidence doesn’t support that line of thinking as countries that banned the preservative altogether (Japan) and those that preemptively removed it (USA) still saw rates rise. As Dr. G point isn’t in his videos correlation is not causation.

        Additionally, in my practice over the past decad, many of my patients were not vaccinated because of this nonsense. Still have autism however. Severity of diagnosis and quality of treatment outcomes are not mediated by vaccine either.

        I’d recommend The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin if anyone wants a neutral 3rd party’s deep lit review.

        Lots of people have strong passions about this topic. But lots have strong passions about the food we eat too. In both cases, the quality evidence remains quite clear: Whole Foods plant based diet is better for you than the SAD diet, vaccines et al don’t cause autism.

        Both diets have existed since ancient times as has autism. We have stories of autism dates back to the dark ages and even as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. Pretty sure we didn’t have vaccines back then :-P but the lure of a perception of control and or ability to blaim someone for misfortune is a powerful thing. Doesn’t make the skapegoating accurate, just emotionally compelling.




        7
  5. A very interesting research study – and the results of the gluten-Free, casein-free dietary intervention do indeed look impressive. But this does not address the main question, as to why has autism increased so dramatically over the past few decades? Children 50 years ago ate just as much – perhaps more dairy and wheat as they do today. So what has changed?

    In the previous video, Dr. Greger pointed out that “ there’s something called the blood-brain barrier that helps cordon off the brain. When you examine the brain tissues of those with autism, their blood-brain barrier seems leakier, too. ” which would make them much more susceptible to the toxic effects of casomorphins.

    I made the comments below on the previous thread, but I believe they bear repeating here, as this video might well have a different, and much wider audience.

    “I found the fact that leakage in the blood brain-barrier apparently plays a necessary role in the development of autism of interest, as it ties into a comment I made on the potential dangers of microwaves from cell phones on this thread:

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-cell-phone-radiation-cause-cancer/

    The excerpt: “As far as “the potential for more subtle, but potentially much more damaging health effects” goes I’d look to Salford’s replicated results, showing leakage in the blood-brain barrier of rats two weeks after only ONE 2 hour exposure to 915 MHz: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19345073 (Incidentally, I calculated that an SAR of 0.12 mW/kg, where Salford began to detect leakage in the blood-brain barrier in rats, corresponds to about 15,000 microwatts/meter squared, well below the range of levels of exposure one would get in close proximity to most cell phones.) Rather than cancer, I would argue that it seems far more likely that microwave exposures may relate to increased cognitive dysfunctions, such as autism or early onset Alzheimers. With respect to Alzheimer’s, an article published online in Radiology using special MRI software demonstrated the presence of leaky BBB and its association with early Alzheimer’s Disease. (Link to full text and images:http://pubs.rsna.org/doi/abs/10.1148/radiol.2016152244 )”

    It looks like cell phone exposures may play a part in the increased incidence of autism as well, through the same mechanism – increasing leakage in the blood brain barrier. And babies and children’s brains seem far more vulnerable to microwave exposure than adults.

    From: https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20140819/children-cell-phones

    “The authors reviewed the current literature showing that children face a higher health risk than adults. They looked at peer-reviewed cell phone exposure studies from 2009 to 2014, along with cell phone radiation data, government documents, manufacturers’ manuals, and similar publications.

    Children and unborn babies do face a greater risk for bodily damage that results from MWR given off by wireless devices, according to Morgan and colleagues.

    The rate of MWR absorption is higher in children than adults because their brain tissues are more absorbent, their skulls are thinner, and their relative size is smaller. Fetuses are particularly vulnerable, because MWR exposure can lead to degeneration of the protective sheath that surrounds brain neurons, they report.

    Multiple studies have shown that children absorb more MWR than adults. One found that that the brain tissue of children absorbed about two times more MWR than that of adults, and other studies have reported that the bone marrow of children absorbs 10 times more MWR than that of adults.”

    And I note as a point of interest that babies exposures to microwaves, like everyone else’s, has increased dramatically over the past few decades – but that children’s exposure to milk has not.”




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    1. Also, as far as the potential dangers of microwaves goes, considering the industry disinformation out there, a brief summary from a previous post:

      As far as the potential dangers of microwaves goes, I find myself in a similar position to someone warning about the dangers of tobacco smoke in the 1950’s. Many people smoked several packs a day, and even though research had begun to come out about the dangers – after decades of effective suppression by the tobacco industry, but just about no one wants to hear about it, let alone take it seriously. Routinely exposing children to what we now recognize as toxic levels of second-hand smoke just seemed an accepted part of life.

      Decades from now, will we realize that the negative health effects from our continually increasing exposure to microwave sources proved just as damaging to health, though in different ways, that as tobacco has? Hard to say, as research like the recent U.S government National Toxicology Program study has just begun to appear past the industry’s blockade. The industry argued that any microwave exposure that does not cause cooking – according to the theory they promoted – can literally NOT have any biological effects – and therefore any exposure below that level seems safe and does not need any testing for safety.

      Many research studies have invalidated this theory, demonstrating effects at microwaves well below the level needed for heating. (See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242331926_Electromagnetic_fields_act_via_activation_of_voltage-gated_calcium_channels_to_produce_beneficial_or_adverse_effects for an overview). However for obvious reasons the microwave industry has stuck to this position and their lobbyists have made sure that our government policy makers have as well. This despite the U.S governments own NTP study demonstrating that microwaves at cell phone frequencies at very low exposure levels DO cause cancer and DNA breaks. ( https://www.wsj.com/articles/cellphone-cancer-link-found-in-government-study-1464324146 ) While with respect to cancer, I do not believe that the effect of microwave exposures will seem at all comparable in magnitude to that of smoking or of eating the Standard American Diet, this DOES open the proverbial can of worms, with respect to all of the safety studies the microwave industry has NOT done for having an effect on other diseases, while exponentially increasing human exposure to microwaves at a wide variety of new and untested frequencies year after year. And given the blood-brain barrier connection, rigorously investigating potential links between microwave exposure and Autism and Alzheimer’s would seem the first on my list of obvious and much needed research projects in this area.




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    2. I think you’re on the right track, alef1. I’ve heard some health professionals suggest that the toxic world we live in (pollution, GMO’s, pesticides, EMFs, processed diet, etc) all contribute to leaky gut, and thus to autism, autoimmune diseases and other conditions. Maybe our ingestion of milk and wheat hasn’t increased much, but the environmental conditions that make us more susceptible to these proteins has.




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  6. Thanks for this info! I am a mother of fraternal twin boys, one with mild autism (diagnosed as Aspergers) and his brother a developmentally “typical” kid. As young children, they were presented with the same food selections. At that time, we had not discovered the proper whole plant food diet yet and were using dairy products. The boys were breastfed for 14 months (no formula at all) and both were completely typical in their developmental and social interactions. It wasn’t until the toddler years, when they were eating foods & dairy, that we first noticed the atypical behaviors. It is impossible for me to bring this full circle and say that cutting out dairy has improved his behavior, because at 13, he has made tremendous progress each year and is maturing like his peers. Whether diet plays a role in autism ???? ….regardless, healthy eating can only be helpful no matter what.




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    1. pasalk, It’s great to hear that your son is making tremendous progress each year. I wonder what additional improvements he could make by going gluten free?




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    2. As a moderator on this site, I congratulate you first on breastfeeding your twins, giving them a great start and for recognizing the role diary can play in health conditions, including autism. While we cannot make definitive statements based on personal examples, it certainly makes sense to use the research we know to try and improve health conditions and that’s just what you’ve done. Gluten is another issue you could explore, but going diary free is a tremendous step already and you should be proud of the good start you’re giving your boys.




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  7. I study autism and really enjoy the series here. I would be very pleased to see some series videos on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or the Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS). These two diets were pioneered for the healing of gut permeability – a major correlation for autistic individuals. GAPS is even more so targeted for keeping autistic symptoms under control. I’ve noticed definitely that gluten makes me worse, but that is in my genetics as well – my grandma passed celiac/microscopic colitis genes. An obviously dysfunctional intestinal lining here, highly aggravated by the autoimmune reaction of ingesting gluten/gliadin/avenin proteins. Anyways, I’m getting wordy here. But I would, as a biology major with concentration on neuro immunology, love to see more on these. Have a great one!! :)




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  8. I think that children diagnosed with ADD or ADD like symptoms benefit from eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet without gluten. I have seen this with my own children. We found out that they are both dairy intolerant and gluten sensitive in 2011. Their ages at that time were 14years old and 19 years old. I was told by their pediatrician, when they were both in grade school without doing any tests on my children, that dairy is important for calcium and that they should take latalose before having any dairy. This never worked for either of my girl. Their symptoms got worse. I really have two case studies here. Everything improved shortly after starting to eat a Whole Food Plant based gluten free way.Their academic improved and I have the records to prove it. Their mood and ability to handle the daily stresses improved. They are both not as sensitive or anxious. No more migraine headaches. Physical abilities improved. I think that there are many children whom could benefit from eating this way. I do think that the rise in bullying and other antisocial behaviors could be related to what we are eating. I wish that the doctors I took my children when they where young could have figured this out, but no. They just sent me to all kinds of doctors and therapists. I found out all of this information from a nurse friend, who interested me to watch Forks over Knives and take the T. Colin Campbell course on the China Study and what a Whole Food Plant Based way of eating is all about. For this I am thankful.




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    1. Maryellen Stamos – I don’t have any type of autism nor celiac issue. However, when I was in my early teens I gave up drinking all animal milks due to severe lactose intolerance. We didn’t have a name for it back then. All I knew was I was bent over in two with severe gut pains after which came the distension, bloating, gas. It was just awful. I was lectured all through my life – especially by my Doctor! – to be sure to drink plenty of milk for my bones. I was severely cautioned that not consuming dairy was dangerous and harming my health!! – by my doctor!!
      That was 50 years ago now. And guess what? At 65 years of age all my dairy consuming women friends have osteopenia or worse. My bone density scan shows no osteoporotic negatives. Perfectly healthy bones. I share this with you so that you know that although I am an experiment of one, my lack of dairy (all dairy: milk, ice cream, sour cream, cheese, etc) has not harmed me in the least. Also, . . I think of it this way, . . . the calves that consume cows milk also stop drinking it when weaning takes place. If cows don’t need it then I surely don’t.
      One more interesting piece of information . . . Benjamin Spock, M.D., known as America’s Pediatrician, wrote in his last book before his death (in his 90’s), that he recommends WFPB diets for adults and children as the healthiest diet. He, himself, switched to a WFPB diet in his later years and experienced much improved health.
      It was interesting to me to read your comments. Thank you.




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      1. As someone who probably grew up with “ADD like symptoms” I drank a lot of milk and even got to milk the cow for a few years. Ate a lot of wheat also.

        Looks like I’d be better off avoiding the wheat and milk. Don’t use much in the way of milk products…have been making some corn and whole wheat biscuits using some white flour though.

        Probably won’t make me into a “groupie” though. I try to avoid the thanksgiving…xmas seasons though…I’d rather watch the mess on TV. Groupies go CRAZY this time of year….I call it the “whiny season”….where they try to make up for the nasty dog eat dog realities of their lives by going all “squishy” for a couple of months. Corporate types encourage this to sell stuff.

        Won’t work. Trust me kids….you’ll be just as crazy next year. And maybe next year the game show host will start a REAL war…that gets them going a lot.




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  9. It was interesting to read PaselK’s response, as one of the thoughts I had after watching this video was if there was a correlation between the increased incidence of diagnosis of autism over the last few decades with increased exposure of neonates and infants to cow’s milk-based formula. Formula companies have been freely supplying their product directly to hospitals and expectant mothers for decades as well.




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    1. Just watched video Cow’s Milk Casomorphin & Autism, which does answer my previous comment. I hadn’t considered that breast-fed neonates and infants could also be exposed by virtue of the mother’s consumption of cow’s milk, but that makes total sense.




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  10. If these negative behaviors and emotions reduced in autistic children, I wonder how the general population would fare if they too stopped eating dairy?




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  11. I would like to share this information with a friend who’s 18 year old son has extreme autism. However I am reluctant to do so unless it has been shown that there is improvement in symptoms even at this age. Could you clarify at what ages a change in diet shows improvement. Thanks.




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    1. Peggy L, from what I’ve read ANY age can show improvements. It’s never too late! Maybe someone who has access to the last study can tell us the ages of the children who ALL got better.




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    2. I looked at sources but found studies that mentioned younger children or did not give ages. I understand your reluctance to share information with a friend whose child is older, but perhaps you could say just that–while you don’t have specific studies that link older children’s improvement with giving up diary, you do have some encouraging studies involving younger people and share those with your friend. You can also share information why giving up diary is healthy for all individuals at any age (Use search box to find approp studies you can share.) By approaching it this way, you are sharing nutritional knowledge without over-promising. Encouraging good nutrition and sharing your concern are never inappropriate. Watch for future NF videos on autism to learn if future studies mentioned detail older children as subjects.




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      1. Joan

        I’m a 51 year old male with Autism. I’ve been vegan for two and half years. I’m treating the Autism effects by lowering a chemical in urine called Pyrroles with vitamins and minerals.
        Any idea how much benefit I might get from going gluten-free?




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        1. Dear Fred: The research on autism and diet is still relatively new with studies focusing on children, so at this point finding specific information on how going gluten-free might help is not possible and as another moderator has previously pointed out going gluten-free can present some problems: “It would probably be a good idea to revisit some of the earlier videos on this topic before adopting this type of diet. The diet has downsides
          https://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=gluten&fwp_content_type=video
          You don’t mention trying to cut down on the casomorphins, which you might want to focus on- cutting down on diary, if you haven’t already. If you do decide to cut back on gluten, you could see if this change provides any benefits. Wish I could give you specifics on if/how this might help, but the research just isn’t there.




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        2. Joan,

          Go for it….. among those of us treating ASD for decades we have collectively seen so many people benefit, with no real downsides as you can always revert to the previous diet. It’s a great experiment that could pay big dividends.

          As a note you might want to use the ATEC form to keep tabs on your progress and changes. The Autism Research Institute is one of the premier groups along with TACA as great resources on everything from diet to……

          Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com




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    3. Peggy, I don’t think you should be reluctant. In honesty I think it’s our responsibility to share things like this. Your friend should definitely have access to this information so she can decide what to do with it. Imagine if she found out you knew this as more light gets sheds on the subject, she may feel badly to learn you didn’t share it with her, just a thought.
      Diet in general effects our moods and brains at any age. I’m an adult with OCD and changing my diet in adulthood has drastically helped, just to supply an example. There’s also other studies on diet effecting the moods and mental health of adults.
      Please do share this with her, it could make a profound impact on her and her son’s lives at best, and at worst you’re just being a good friend sharing with her what you think may possibly be as some help.




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      1. This seems to be good advice S . Could someone give me specific words that might be said to someone whose child is autistic to persuade them to try a new diet for their child, I believe there are many who would be offended by callous remarks. I know several parents who need this information.




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        1. Thanks Francisco :) Yeah, I can imagine it coming across as offensive if someone got in their face and said “oh, you need to do this! I know how to make it better!” type of a thing… I would personally approach it by saying “I know you’ve learned so much more about this subject than I have, but I did happen to come across this video/information that I found really profound and I feel compelled to share it with you in case you might find it helpful if you haven’t already heard much about it.” And if I told them in person, I’d offer to send them the link. If I texted/emailed, I’d just send the link with my message.




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          1. Thanks S. You have helped me to approached parents with Autistic children. The worst outcome I believe is that parents might feel guilty that they may have contributed to their children’s autism due to their choices in feeding them or even their own eating habits during pregnancy. I guess speaking the truth in love is the best way to approach this. Thanks for your insight and thanks to Dr. Greger for his amazing mission o help us all. Peace to all, and happy holidays

            .




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            1. So glad I could offer some help Francisco :) I imagine that would be the potential worst outcome as well, but the truth is that their diet and their children’s diet was no different than most everyone else and this could happen to anyone. It’s so great that this kind of information is getting out there now, though.

              If you haven’t already, I’d watch his previous video on A2 milk which explains in great detail the connection between dairy and autism.

              Happy Holidays to you too!




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  12. ALERT!!!!!!! Practice changer!!!!!!!!

    “They ALL got better!”

    It’s time for the Autism community to start changing the coarse of Autism by changing the food that goes into the child’s mouth.

    It’s the food!!!!!!!!

    Regarding the human body and disease, it’s almost always the food that is the problem. In this case it is the food!

    Thanks so much for this work! it is truly invaluable.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.




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  13. Did they ever look at what happens when you only omit the gluten? I’m curious to know which of the two has the greater impact. Sounds like omitting dairy might have the greater impact when compared, but I watched this video in a hurry.
    I’m wondering then if gluten may negatively impact the brains of adults? I know dairy is bad for a plethora of reasons so it makes sense to avoid it in general, but should adults with no allergies worry about gluten in this regard? And should pregnant and nursing mothers avoid gluten as well as dairy? And at what age would it be safe to start feeding a child gluten? Or does it not matter if they’ve shown no symptoms of autism?

    I find this interesting as whenever I ate a lot of gluten (especially from bread, especially white bread) that among other things, it made my head feel really foggy and put me in a bad mood. I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy when I was little so I figured it was due to that. I also worry about gluten and the thyroid after reading some things on that a while ago.
    Oh, but interestingly, I did great on spelt when I was little! And that’s an ancient form of wheat. So I wonder if it’s all gluten or the difference in strucure due to the more modern forms of wheat that humans modified through the years. Or perhaps it’s a difference in the amounts of gluten present in the grains.




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    1. S, by using a very controlled diet, I found that wheat is a problem for me. I get a nasty rash. My Dermatologist wanted to biopsy it, it was so bad. But I do not have any negative reaction to pure rye and barley. The glutens in each of these foods is different, and there is a lot less of it in rye, barley, and in ancient forms of wheat. Wheat has changed greatly because of being hybridized.
      I use a German bread made entirely of rye when I want a sandwich, it is high in fiber also. Most healthy food stores carry it,




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      1. Thanks for the response Marilyn, that is really interesting! I’ve actually been wondering how I would do on pure rye and other grains (but I particularly love the taste of rye), but I can only ever find pre-made breads with wheat somewhere in the ingredients. I did just look up “German rye” and I think I see the product you’re talking about, I actually do believe I’ve seen it in health food stores. Great info, it would be really cool to see this topic specifically addressed here. I personally think we need more insight into it and I wonder how much it’s been studied.




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  14. My son is autistic and has been milk and gluten- free for so many years since 3 years old when I found he has those allergies. Most parents know about milk/gluten free diet, yet their kids are still autistic despite changing diet to m/g free. Of course it is a must to be m/g free when you have the allergy (and may be even if you don’t) but it does not cure autism. The cause still not known or definitive. Maybe multiple causes. My son today is very healthy except whatever is causing his autistic impairment, because he only eats Whole Foods fresh vegetables and fruits and some organic grass-fed meat and he exercise almost everyday hiking swimming. He eats very minimal sugar especially the fructose component of sugar as fructose beyond certain doses is bad for the liver. That’s why I also limit the fruits due to the fructose, and instead I give him more veggies multiple colors.




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    1. Yes you are correct it may not cure autism (I do not know all the evidence for sure). But it is also a Spectrum Disorder, which means there are high and low functioning autistic people and if they all improve, they move toward the higher functioning side of the spectrum.

      From a Physician standpoint we (health care providers) should all recommend what the research is showing improves autism functioning. How can anyone argue otherwise?

      Restated: One thing for sure is this dietary change doesn’t make Autism worse and as a Physician that is what we should be prescribing first and foremost–a treatment that does no harm! (Primum non nocere)

      I commend you for moving to a healthier diet.

      Thank you for your post.




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    2. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20171110/Researchers-make-breakthrough-in-finding-possible-therapeutic-fix-for-autism-intellectual-disability.aspx

      November 10, 2017 Researchers make breakthrough in finding possible therapeutic fix for autism.

      The team created and analyzed a genetically modified mouse and found that a mutated Arid1b gene impairs GABA neurons, the ‘downer’ neurotransmitter, leading to an imbalance of communication in the brain.

      …reversed by pharmacological treatment with a GABA receptor modulating drug




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    3. James, I’d check out the video Dr. Greger has about the difference of fructose in whole fruit as opposed to sugar and corn syrup and such. Fructose from eating fruit does not react the same way at all and it appears that there is no upper safe limit. When they did studies on people eating 20 servings of fruit every single day, their health actually improved.
      I don’t think this video implied that a m/g free diet cured autism, but rather helped with symptoms. However, did you see the last video on dairy and autism? Sounds like dairy could cause autism in those with weaker blood-brain barriers.




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  15. is it the casein or the gluten. but could it also be that the kids had to eat more vegetables ,fruits and roots and that is what boosted the result. and just the lack of dairy or grain products.




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    1. Tom and CD, check out the last video on A2 milk, the dairy is definitely a significant aspect. What they discovered about dairy and autism is very profound, so do check out that video as it will help answer your questions.




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  16. I am Dad to a 15 year old low functioning nonverbal young man. He was diagnosed officially at around 2 years. At about age four it was suggested that we try gluten free casein free diet. We tried the diet for a full year and he had absolutely no change in behavior.




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  17. Your video has successfully got me to cut my dairy intake in half.

    Yes, only half right now, but half is better than nothing.

    I still have a latte with milk in the morning and use real cheese in holiday casseroles, but my daily Matcha Latte is made with soy milk and my garden veggie low carb wrap has vegan cheese and it only has a little bit of a non-cheese nutty taste as I load it up with greens and some reds and seeds. Also, I bought vegan butter and dairy free yogurt today and I bought some almond milk for my Ezekiel cereal.

    Not sure if it will fix my thyroid or help with social anxiety or get rid of cancer, which I had symptoms of, but juiced carrots all day long all Summer and those symptoms are gone and I took your advice about not going to the doctor, since I obviously hadn’t dealt with the causes of things yet, but I am officially working on it.

    Thanks for giving all these pointers.




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    1. Hi Deb: it looks like you are on the right track. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. This is Dr. Daniela Sozanski, PhD in Natural Medicine, Functional practitioner in Atlanta GA and Moderator for Nutritionfacts.




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  18. I am laughing, because I posted the last comment and know that I feel the need to clarify that you did not advise me to avoid doctors and you are not treating me for cancer.

    I know people really have gone to jail for things like that and that there is an audience here and I am taking personal responsibility that before I found this site, I spent a whole Spring reading every nutritional study at PubMed and I tried out quite a few Cancer and Diabetes protocols in the forms of raw fruit and vegetables and flax seed and broccoli sprouts and dandelion root and leaf tea and curcumin and beta glucan and inositol and NAD and NAC and NT Factor and selenium and D3 with sea kelp and the type of Magnesium, which crosses the blood brain barrier and liposomal C and green tea and more green tea and more green tea and every supplement under the sun.

    I came here and what changed is that YOU read the studies for me and THAT is so much more FUN!

    AND, I am starting to get more of the nutrition from actual FOOD.

    I was doing the exact same process that you are doing, but you made it much funnier than the PubMed resources.

    Thank you for that.




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  19. It’s not really bovine milk that yields the opioid peptides, but a1 mutant bovine milk. A2 bovine milk, goat milk, sheep milk, camel milk probably don’t cause autism. The easiest solution on a personal level, short of going vegan, might be going gluten-free and drinking goat milk and eating goat-milk cheese. I suspect goats might be treated better than cows are, also. There’s some evidence that ancestral wheat strains are less toxic than modern wheat strains, also.




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  20. I didn’t watch the video yet, but agree with the one comment that these studies need to be as controlled as possible, otherwise many people won’t believe them. But this sounds like a step in the right direction and we definitely need more studies like this. As for me, I don’t need to see any studies. I put myself (first) and kids on a strict gluten-free, cow dairy free, almost no cane sugar, basically all clean food diet (if I can’t kill it, grow it, or make it in my house (without being a scientist), we really try hard to avoid it). Every ingredient, down to the less than 2% stuff is scrutinized (even citric acid, unless it says from a fruit, has been eliminated). Other trigger foods were also eliminated, based on immune response blood tests and behavior observations (banana, lemon, potato, egg white, …). Here are some of the conditions that were either eliminated or greatly reduced:
    add, adhd, temper
    tantrums, fixation, tree pollin allergies, fruit allergies, anxiety, depression, eczema/skin rashes, mood swings, poor memory recall, digestive issues, hemeroids. There are so many variables, these studies need to track as many external factor as possible (frequency of eating, exact ingredients, exercise routine, sleep patterns, electronics use, …). The good part is that anyone can try an elimination diet for a few weeks and just see what happens…look for the patterns! The closer to an absolute 100% compliance, the better the results.




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    1. Re: As for me, I don’t need to see any studies.

      I agree with you 100%. Don’t wait for the so-called studies because they will take decades to happen, if ever. And then when they are done, they can be biased on certain directions to produce the results that they want.

      Rather, I read a lot and use the info I received as pointers so that I can search for more info and apply to myself and my family and see results in front of my eyes.

      Your mileage varies. With some people, some foods are OK or even beneficial. With others, they are harmful. There is no one size fit all diet.




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  21. I almost forgot, snoring/sinus congestion, joint pain/stiffness, and inflammation after getting injured is almost nonexistent. Haven’t needed to take any anti-inflammatory or pain meds in years. I’m 45 years old, but feel like I’m 25 again. Just with a better memory :)




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  22. I have a son with Autism. He’s done gluten free. He’s done dairy free. He’s done them both together. The only thing that made a significant difference was the dairy and I know it’s the dairy because occasionally someone will slip him something with dairy in it and it affects his behaviour and communication. The primary source of impact honestly was the hours of therapy he’s done through an amazing centre that is able to help him grow. They were gentle and kind and played with him (play therapy was the best!). Unless you’ve lived it you cannot know or even understand how to assist someone as they seek to explore the world in a way you might not be personally familiar with.

    I’ve seen some comments here that are a big discouraging and frustrating. Wanting to intervene and save families of children with Autism is a lovely thought but most of us have heard about the GF/CF diet and most of us have tried it in some way or another. Honestly it’s plant-based for us that made the difference. Get rid of the meat, load up on veggies and fruit and keep moving towards the healthiest eating you can manage. It’s harder than you might imagine with a child who has autism. You need to work through food sensitivities and sensory issues in general. Some kids eat more than others. I’ve often wondered if the GF/CF diet works well in part because it gets rid of so much garbage food. I am no scientist however just a mom who loves both of her children and wants to feed them the healthiest diet possible.

    Honestly if you’re interested in helping a family of a child with Autism don’t just feed them information. Actually lean into their life and help out. See how you can assist by either offering respite care or a listening ear or even taking them a home cooked meal. You can share information of course but don’t stop there. Sometimes in the Plant-Based world I feel like we think if we share information it’s just going to revolutionize lives. For some this might work. For others you need to walk with them to help them along the way.




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    1. I’m also leaning towards a more plant based diet. My middle daughter, the one with autism, has been gravitating away from many of the meats on her own. I’m learning to trust her instincts more. Dairy is also her number one trigger, followed by sugar (when it comes to behavior). The gluten definitely impacts her skin and her ability to focus (same impact for me and her older sister). Every day brings a new twist on how to achieve even more improvement. And I also agree with the need for therapy, I don’t want to downplay the need for it! Taking the food journey along side my daughter has made me realize that I had many of the same issues as her, just to a much lesser extent. It helps to feel the change for yourself. Not everyone may have the same issue with the same foods so this isn’t an exact science. For instance, my youngest can have dairy with no signs of reaction, my middle daughter has behavior issues with it, my oldest gets anxiety /depression symptoms, my sinuses get inflamed, and my mother-in-law has joint pain from it. Reading posts from others has helped tremendously over the past few years, would never have been able to figure most of this out without it. Hopefully all of our experiences can also help others…




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