Although it has not yet been proven, some people believe that many children with autism have "leaky gut syndrome." The syndrome is thought to allow proteins (gliadin and casein) from wheat and dairy products to pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream rather than being digested properly in the intestines. The theory is that the proteins then turn into opioid peptides, which attach to opiate receptors. In turn, this can cause behaviours (extreme sensory reactions, for example) similar to someone who's taken an opioid drug.
Braux believes that by eliminating gluten and dairy from a child's diet, parents eliminate the proteins, which removes the problem of a leaky gut. However, Braux also believes that soy should not be part of the diet. "More recently, it has been found that early introduction of soy in the child's diet through formula can have similar effects [as gluten and protein]," he told SheKnows. "Diet research on GFCF [gluten-free and casein-free] alone showed 65 per cent of ASD children improved, but research on GFCFSF [including soy] showed 91 per cent improved."
Food allergies should always be ruled out if there are suspected autistic behaviours, says Braux. If any allergies show up, those foods should be eliminated from the child's diet as soon as possible.
Following Braux's diet involves more than eliminating gluten and dairy. He says the first step is to avoid all industrial, packaged and processed foods. "They typically contain all sorts of chemicals, additives, preservatives and artificial colourings that will affect your child's brain in a bad way [excitotoxins]. The only exception to that rule would be certified-organic, flash-frozen food and vegetables."
Other foods to avoid include the following:
With so many foods in the "don't eat" category, it might seem as if there aren't many foods left to choose from, but this isn't true. "It's quite simple, really," says Braux. "Stay with grass-fed beef, bison and pigs [not feedlot-raised animals loaded with growth hormones and antibiotics]; pasture-raised chicken and eggs [not cage-bound poultry]; line-caught, [not farm-raised] fresh fish; organic fruits and vegetables. It's not the cheapest way to eat, but I believe strongly that it is better to spend a little more money right now to grow healthy children than buy cheap industrial food that will make them sick for the rest of their life."
Braux has written a cookbook for people who want to live gluten- and dairy-free: Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food. He is also the author of Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day and How to Lower your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food. A practical guide.
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