I get asked questions about the GFCF diet by family members. I am going to try and answer some questions related to it (based on my limited understanding).
Gluten and Caesin free diet basically means removing foods that contain gluten and caesin.
There are 7 food grains: Rice, Barley, Corn, Millet, Oats ,Rye and Wheat. Wheat, rye and barley contain gluten.
That means all breads, cereals etc are out of the picture. ALSO many processed foods contain wheat. Just because it says Corn Flakes on the box does not mean it has no gluten.
The starch in these grains is coated in fibre and protein and most of this is removed when you grind to make flours.
Gluten is the gluey bit of flour that makes it bubbly and stretchy. That's what makes wheat sticky.
Caesin is one of the main proteins in milk.
What does that have to do with Autism?
It has been argued that a lot of people with autism have Gluten and Caesin intolerance. For some people food allergy or intolerance comes out as hives and other reactions, while for some people (for eg celiac disease) it comes out as changes in the lining of the intestines due to malabsorptin of Gluten.
But what does my gut have to do with my brain?
It is still a mystery how gluten really affects brain function, but one piece of this puzzle starts with digestion of protein.
Lots of amino acids (smallest bit of a protein) are linked together to make a peptide. In the gut, two things proteases and peptidases unravel these complex chains to aid digestion and absorption. Gluten intolerance has something to do with one such peptidase (enzyme) failing to do its job.
The undigested peptide causes problems. The immune system causes a complex defensive response to it and starts damaging tissues and antibodies - autoimmune damage.
Secondly, the undigested peptide enters the blood. If you have a leaky gut lining (as it has been claimed that a lot of autistics do) then lots of this peptide ends up in the blood. Gluten derived peptides look like opium and mimic opium (drug that alleviates pain) - (maybe explains high pain threshold?)
So we are talking gluten sensitivity and enzyme deficiency, leading to suboptimal metabolism, leading to suboptimal nutritional status of all organs of body. This coupled with toxic exposure to mercury, arsenic (both found in vaccines and even chickens!), solvents etc etc affect metabolism and cause inadequate energy for neurons and networks to operate leading to chronic deficiencies and biochemical train wreck in body.
Is this going to cure K's Autism?
I really don't believe that. I can only go by what I have observed as a result of his GFCF diet. K had severely painful stools. He would strain and cry and it was awful for him. This had gone since he was 6 months old on and off. His bowel movements have now dramatically changed to normal. He is now on his way to being pottee trained.
There are a number of other things we have done besides removing Gluten and Caesin. Such as, cleaning up his diet of all colourings, sugar, artificial flavorings etc.
See Post Reducing K's toxic burden.
Why are you restricting his diet? He is just a child, let him eat what he wants. You are a control freak.
When K was not in this diet, he only wanted to eat cheese, bread sticks and milk. He was slightly interested in muffins or plain cake, flat bread and junk food. He was addicted to juice boxes. He refused everything else.
Now on this diet, K still does not want to eat much. However with bribery (through DVDs and stuff), I manage to get some useful stuff in him. He only drinks home squeezed juices of fruits and some veges. He eats a variety of different flours (lentil flours, nut flours, rice flours). His diet consists of fish, meat, chicken, eggs, vegetables and fruits.
How is this restrictive and how is cheese pizza not restrictive?
My life would be very easy if K was not on a GFCF diet. Wheat and all purpose flour is not the only thing in this world. There are a host of other things and thanks to our cultural background we are aware of them and have in fact grown up on that stuff. (Besan pancakes anyone?)