Research Shows Gluten-Free Diet May Benefit Children With Autism

Published September 7, 2013

A new study done Penn State College Of Medicine has shown that a casein and gluten-free diet can benefit children who have autism. Gluten is a type of protein that is found in rye, wheat and barley. Casein is a protein found in milk.

The researchers questioned 387 parents of children who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The parents were asked questions about their children’s food allergies, diet and gastrointestinal symptoms. The researchers discovered that when children followed a strict casein and gluten-free diet, their gastrointestinal symptoms improved. The children’s social responsiveness, attention span and eye contact also improved.

Those results were compared to autistic children whose parents did not restrict their casein and gluten intake. Christine Pennessi was one of the researchers in the study. She stated that children with autism spectrum disorder often experience gastrointestinal symptoms. She also stated that allergy symptoms and gastrointestinal symptoms are more common in autistic children than in the general population.

Many researchers believe that peptides in gluten and casein can trigger an immune response in children who have autism spectrum disorder. These peptides can also trigger behavioral problems.

Despite the fact that the results of this study seem promising, the researchers agree that there needs to be more studies done to examine the effects that a gluten and casein-free diet will have on autism symptoms. Pennessi also stated that there are a number of other foods, such as soy, that may be problematic for children who have autism.

Caroline Hattersely is the head of information at the National Autistic Society. She agrees that there needs to be more research done to examine the link between autism and diet. Furthermore, Hattersely believes that despite the fact there are a number of gluten free recipes, following a restricted diet for an extended period of time can be quite difficult.

Gluten Free Meals
In honor of these findings, we thought we’d share some of our volunteer’s favorite gluten free recipes below. Enjoy!

RogerGluten Free Pancakes (not just for breakfast!)
TaraGluten Free Quinoa and Black Beans (better than it sounds)
JennaGluten Free Chili (Chicken is the best)
ThomasGluten Free Blueberry Muffins (Yummi!)
JamesGluten Free Zucchini Bread (best served with organic grass-fed butter)

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