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  • Writer's pictureKaren

Can Autism Be Helped By Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impaired social communication and repetitive behavior patterns. While the exact pathology of ASD is unknown, there may be a connection between diet and ASD behavioral symptoms.

Many dietary supplements have been investigated as potential treatments, including omega-3 fatty acids,[1] melatonin,[2] vitamin D,[3] and a combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium;[4] but the gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) diet has become one of the more popular interventions among parents with ASD children.

Survey have shown that anywhere from 20% to 70% of respondents[5] have tried a GFCF diet. Parents often report symptom improvement when placing their children on this diet,[6] but what do results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) tell us?

What is the theory behind the GFCF diet?

The opioid-excess theory of ASD has long been a popular hypothesis for explaining how a GFCF diet may alleviate ASD behavioral symptoms.[7] It has three main components:

  1. The incomplete breakdown of the proteins making up gluten and