We hope you'll find this to be a space where we share updated information about gluten-free living and eating AND where we all can share information, so please feel free to comment on posts or email us information you think should be included. Be sure to check out our sister site: BmoreGfree.com So that's that. Enjoy!

The Gluten-Free Diet and The Autism Spectrum

So, here's something that I've been wanting to write about for quite some time now.  Unfortunately the post-it note that the memory had been stored on must be lost under my stack of "post-it memories".  Fortunately, I was watching the show, Parenthood, on NBC last night and I was reminded about my plan to discuss:  The Gluten-Free Diet and The Autism Spectrum.

As many on the gluten-free diet are noticing, our food is in the spotlight -- We are on the diet because of Celiac Diesease.  The gluten-free diet has also been shown to be an effective intervention for those on the Autism Spectrum and many other diseases and disorders.  For the purposes of this post, I'm going to stick to providing resources that discuss the relationship between the gluten free diet and Autism/PDD.
According to one theory, some people with autism and PDD cannot properly digest gluten and casein, which form peptides, or substances that act like opiates in their bodies. The peptides then alter the person's behavior, perceptions, and responses to his environment. Some scientists now believe that peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in certain people. Research in the U.S. and Europe has found peptides in the urine of a significant number of children with autism. A doctor can order a urinary peptide test to see if proteins are being digested properly. (AutismWeb)

...[M]any families report that dietary elimination of gluten and casein has helped regulate bowel habits, sleep, activity, habitual behaviors and enhance overall progress in their individual child. No specific laboratory tests can predict which children might be observed by their families to have a positive response to dietary intervention. For that reason, many families elect a trial of dietary restriction with careful observation by the family and intervention team.  (Autism Speaks)

As someone with Celiac Disease and Crohn's Disease, I am well aware of the difference between a treatment and a cure.  The gluten-free diet is a treatment.  It doesn't work like antibiotics in ridding the body of bacteria.  Cheating on this diet doesn't mean a potential for a few extra pounds; it means the return of all the symptoms and possible harm to the body's digestive tract.

The gluten-free diet won't cure Autism, but it has great potential to be a leading treatment.

*Postings on this site are purely for informational purposes and do not claim to be diagnostic in any way, shape, or form. 


  1. This may be a dangerous recommendation for children.

    "A 2008 study found that boys with autism had significantly thinner bones than neurotypical boys, starting around age 5–6 years, and that boys using casein-free diets had nearly twice the bone thickness deficiency as boys with minimally restricted or unrestricted diets. It is not known which other factors contribute to thin bones in boys with autism, but it appears that a casein-free diet may contribute to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies that lead to decreased bone development and increased risk of broken bones."

  2. You are completely correct, and that is why many whose doctors recommend the g-free/c-free diet also use nutritional supplements of vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D & Calcium deficiencies are common throughout those following the typical "Western" diet because of the reliance on processed foods.

    Whenever changing a diet, for whatever reason, it's crucial to make sure your body continues to get the nutrition IT needs to remain healthy. Calcium and Vitamin D are not just found in foods containing casein, but it does make it a bit more difficult to replace those foods if unaware of this harmful side effect.

    Let's keep the discussion going!

  3. You may find this evaluation by the Cochrane Review to be informative:

    In the first version of this review we argued that exclusion diets are not without cost in terms of inconvenience and extra financial cost and limitations on foods of choice for the affected family member and that we could not recommend their use as a standard treatment on the basis of the limited data available. The only trial identified since the first review shows no significant difference between the intervention and control group and, again, we cannot recommend these exclusion diets as standard treatment.



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