FOOD ADDICTION AND AUTISM
This section offers a brief summary of the impact that diet may have on the health, learning, and behaviour of children on the autism spectrum. For a more complete explanation as well as strategies to identify the offending food, refer to my book, "Could It Really Be Something They Ate - The Life Changing Impact of Addressing Food Sensitivities in Children."
Several studies have shown that certain protein fragments found in both milk and gluten products contain substances called peptides that behave very much like the opiate drug, morphine when they are incompletely digested within the body. This incomplete digestion may be the result of unaddressed food sensitivities, inflammation due to a poor diet, some medications, an imbalance of the bacteria in the bowel or even excessive stress.
These proteins are inactive when contained in food but are activated during the process of digestion.
When a person suffers from bowel inflammation, whatever the cause, the walls of the bowel become "leaky" and these undigested proteins are allowed to leak into the circulation. They make their way to the brain where they have an impact on learning and behaviour and often create a significant craving for both dairy and gluten containing foods in the child.
High amounts of these opiate peptides have been found in the urine of patients suffering from depression and from autism. Most peptides pass out of the body in the urine but these incompletely digested peptides enter the blood stream through the “leaky” intestinal wall. It is believed that these substances are responsible for many of the effects on the brain that are seen in both autistic and depressed individuals.
While it is common for families of children with autism to remove gluten and dairy containing foods, the food causing the inflammation must also be addressed. Many families remove only dairy or gluten and find very little improvement in their child's symptoms. By following the process in my book, "Could It Really Be Something They Ate?" parents can identify the underlying trigger food and their chance of successfully addressing their child's symptoms are much greater.
Removal of gluten and dairy foods from the diet may result in a withdrawal reaction. Depending on the symptoms of the patient, physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms my temporarily worsen for a few days until the foods have been eliminated from the body. For complete information on how to remove an offending food from a child's diet, please refer to my book, "Could It Really Be Something They Ate?"