Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April is Autism Awareness Month

The latest news on the prevalence of Autism was just released by the CDC. The new statistics are that 1 in 88 children have Autism.

This statistic is really alarming considering that just a few years ago it was believed that it occurred in 1 and 150 children. This discovery is extremely important but I know my usual readers may wonder what this has to do with my passion, Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances. Well, Dr. Alessio Fasano, (whom I have had the pleasure of meeting) is the world's leading expert on Autism and Celiac Disease and through his research he has shown that 30% of Autistic children benefit from a gluten-free, casein-free diet.

Does this mean that autistic children have Celiac disease? Actually, no. While children with autism have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, bloating and constipation, they do not typically have Celiac Disease. Autism, like Celiac Disease, is not something that is solely in one area (i.e. the brain). Autism effects the entire body and, like Celiac Disease, what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut. Proper nutrition is essential in both disease processes. Research has shown us that when parents implement an autism diet (think gluten, dairy, and soy free) improvements can be seen in sleeping difficulties, focus, eye contact, language and learning. Why? The answer is inflammation. Gluten, casein (found in dairy), soy, corn, refined sugar and eggs all cause inflammation in the gut and brain. The gluten and casein-free diet has been shown to be the most popular and the most effective.

I will be wearing my autism awareness bracelet for the month to support all those who have autism and require a diet free of gluten and casein. If you know someone who has autism, maybe you could offer to make a dish for the family that fits their diet. Little gestures could mean the world to someone! 

For more information on autism and nutrition check out this article by nutrition consultant, Julie Matthews - click here.

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