Introduction to Nutrition
Dietary intervention and nutritional supplementation are the important first step of our treatment program. Diet is a key component to the success of the biomedical approach. Typically, food is digested into chemical compounds that are used for energy, and cellular function. For those with ASDs and gastrointestinal problems, the body often digests food improperly, causing biochemical imbalances and nutritional deficiencies.
All healthy diets need to remove common toxic or unhealthy ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Trans fat (any partially-hydrogenated oils), Monosodium Glutamate (MSG, a neurotoxin), artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives. Organic meats are raised without hormones and antibiotics, and are often grass-fed, yielding higher omega-3 content. Organic fruits and vegetables are also important, not only for their low pesticide content, but because they are more nutritious than conventionally-grown produce.
There are four major diets that are used to treat patients on the autism spectrum at this time. They are: GF/CF, SCD/GAPS, LOD, and BED. We will help you figure out which diet is best for your child. A good book that gives an overview of diet and nutrition is Nourishing Hope, by Julie Matthews. Read more here about these four major diets.
GF/CF Diet. Special diets are often necessary to rid the body of morphine-like compounds formed in most autistic children from gluten (wheat, oat, barley, and rye) and casein (dairy) foods. This is called the gluten-free, casein-free diet, or GF/CF diet. More information on this diet can be found at www.gfcfdiet.com. A good GF/CF cookbook is Special Diets for Special Kids, by Lisa Lewis.
SCD/Gut and Psychology (GAPS) Diet. Sometimes, the gut is so damaged in these kids that they need to advance into a more restrictive diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or SCD. This diet removes all disaccarides (starches), and focuses on meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and a little honey. More information on this diet can be found on www.breakingtheviciouscycle.com and www.pecanbread.com. The GAPS diet is essentially the SCS diet without any dairy products. To learn the basics about the SCD diet, it is essential to read Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall. An excellent follow-up book is Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBride.
Low Oxalate Diet. Others have problems with the oxalate content of some plant-based foods. Oxalates are sharp microscopic crystals in plants that can cause inflammation and pain in the GI tract and urinary tract especially. These patients may benefit from the Low Oxalate Diet. More information on this diet can be found at www.lowoxalatediet.com. People considering or doing the Low Oxalate Diet should join the Yahoo chat group Trying Low Oxalates.
Body Ecology Diet, or B.E.D. This diet emphasizes fermented foods, which are natural probiotics. Since many children on the spectrum cannot eat fermented milk products like yogurt or kefir, it is possible to ferment vegetables, and even coconut water to achieve the same result. More information on this diet can be found at www.bodyecologydiet.com. The Nutrition sections below have more specific information on successful dietary practices for the ASD patient. To learn more, read the book The Body Ecology Diet, by Donna Gates.