Tip of the Day
Autism and Gluten
Every April, National Autism Awareness Month provides a great opportunity to educate ourselves about autism and issues within the autism community. One area of discussion amongst the autism community is the role of gluten.
Some people feel a gluten-free, casein-free diet improves the symptoms of autism. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Casein is a protein found in milk. Proponents of the diet believe people with autism have a "leaky gut," or intestine, which allows parts of gluten and casein to seep into the bloodstream and affect the brain and central nervous system. The belief is, this may lead to autism or magnify its symptoms.
To date, controlled scientific studies have not proven this to be true. However, some people report relief in symptoms after following a GFCF diet. If you are considering a GFCF diet, talk with your health-care team, including a registered dietitian nutritionist. There can be side effects and potential nutrient shortfalls when a GFCF diet is self-prescribed.
Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area and visit our Autism and Diet page to identify any nutritional risks based on how your child eats; answer your questions about diet therapies and supplements advertised as helpful for autism; and help guide your child on how to eat well and live healthfully.
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Reviewed February 2013