Some studies which are conducted about autism spectrum disorder have shown that the proper nutrition of children with autism as well as the use of appropriate products in the treatment of autism also affects the treatment. At this point, caregivers should not act without consulting the doctor.
Attention to the consumption of some foods in children with autism is extremely effective in the success of treatment. These problems can be solved by a number of changes in the diet of a child with autism who has a feeding problem, a child with autism who has intestinal problems, or a child with autism who has a sleep problem. And during the course of the treatment, the focus should only on training and it leads to fast progress.
Some foods cannot be fully digested by some children, causing digestive problems in children. It should be noted that each child is different from each other. Preparing a diet for children is the task of experts, such as doctor, dietician or pediatrician. As parents, they should feed their children with healthy food and use natural products as far away from the packaged foods as possible.
There are some foods that children with autism are sensitive. As a matter of fact, the sensitivities found by doctors are as follows; Dairy products, gluten foods, foods with additives such as salami and sausage, milk clot, cheese, the waterless portion of yogurt, wheat protein and soy protein.
Eggs are extremely beneficial for children. Particular attention should be paid to the fact that the egg is an organic egg. Green leafy vegetables and fruits should always be in the diet. Children should be kept as far away as possible from Fast food and French fries.
Low salty ones in terms of dried foods should be preferred and acidic beverages should be strictly avoided. Food that needs to be avoided is also margarine. Instead of margarine, olive oil, hazelnut oil, and butter should be used. It is important to keep the child with autism away from sugar, to drink plenty of water and to pay attention to the cleaning of the teeth.
GAPS Diet (Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet)
According to experts, children with an autism spectrum disorder, children with cerebral palsy or dyslexic children, adopt a diet that is far away from gluten and some proteins and direct them to fermented foods play an active role in the treatment of frequently encountered digestive system disorders.
Dieticians, who are conducting studies on the nutrition should be taken by children with autism, have claimed that autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases may be of intestinal origin. They named these diseases as Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). As a result, The GAPS diet has been started in order to be used for the treatment of stomach and digestive diseases due to distancing from natural nutrition.
The GAPS diet is recommended to some children with autism spectrum disorder for intestinal problems that have a chance to be seen. The GAPS diet is generally based on a carbohydrate diet and is carried out progressively.
It is a diet that prohibits the intake of gluten, casein, lactose, starch-containing foods, and processed foods. In the GAPS diet, meat and fish, lactose-free yogurt, kefir, dairy products such as natural cheeses, eggs, fresh vegetables without starch, fruits, dried foods, water, and freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juices can be consumed.
The GAPS diet is a method that can be supported in the treatment of a child with an autism spectrum disorder. However, in the treatment of a child, special education, play therapy, ergotherapy, and movement training should be continued. And the environment in which the child with autism can meet with peers and adults should be available to the child.
Probiotic, the cornerstone of the GAPS diet, is responsible for the fermentation process of foods. Individuals who practice this diet should be fed very specially. Fermented foods such as marrow bone juice, fermented sauerkraut, homemade yogurt, and kefir are gaining importance in this diet program.
As good bacteria grow in the intestinal flora, the sense of hunger disappears. And it consciously allows us to choose healthy foods. In summary, it is important to take the beneficial germs into the body. The GAPS diet is repairing all health.
The aim of the GAPS diet is to preserve the intestinal flora and ensure the regular functioning of the digestive system. Toxins, heavy metals, and non-digestible foods can pass from the intestinal wall to the blood. The first step of the GAPS diet is to repair the intestinal lining and strengthen the intestines and digestion. With this diet, the lining of the intestine is repaired, excess weight in the body is discarded, the body balance is maintained and the person feels good in the spirit.
In this diet program, fermented foods and probiotics are essential. Therefore, the consumption of foods should be increased and the diet program created by the dietician should be applied.
The solid diet of GAPS must last at least 1.5 – 2 years. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, some may heal faster, while others may take much longer to heal. The GAPS diet looks difficult at first glance. But the nutritional value as a high diet. It also cleanses and treats the individual with autism’s intestines.
Once the digestive system starts working, it can gradually begin to consume nutritious foods that are widely consumed around the world. Children with autism get better sooner with this diet compared to adults with autism.
Children with autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy experience digestive system disorder in a large portion. This disorder can also be cured by feeding away from gluten and carbohydrate, which form the basis of the GAPS diet.
These children have a number of digestive disorders caused by the gene functioning and the lack of an enzyme that is activated by that gene. Especially there are many scientific articles about it can be found in the intestines of autistic children. It is revealed in some tests that are done about this issıe that these are true.
The child is consuming protein. Since digestive fluids and bowel lining are a nuisance, complete digestion does not occur. Undigested food is especially applicable to some proteins and gluten, carbohydrates. These proteins accumulate in the body in polypeptide structures. These structures have a morphine effect on the child.
Thus, gluten and milk protein in case of the impaired digestive system and in autistic children, the casein, creates the effect of morphine. Experts, because of the fact that it creates the morphine effect for children with autism, do not recommend milk consumption. Morphine prevents children from having feelings of anxiety and fear in the face of danger. It slows down the reflexes. Experts say that the levels of minerals in the body decrease due to the morphine effect and they can be overcome with the GAPS diet.
Lunch in the GAPS diet is as important as breakfast. Must be eaten with homemade soup and meat or fish stew. In addition to meat, fish, and shellfish, avocado can be added with cooked vegetables. The sauce can be added as cold extra virgin olive oil and lemon on it.
Generally, experts warn families of children with autism in order to not give packaged food to their children. Milk and fish should not be consumed by children with an autism spectrum disorder. On the contrary, fermented foods are very good and beneficial for these children.
Fermented foods are mostly traditional foods. These could be homemade yogurts and homemade pickles. Mothers with children with autism can feed their children with this food without having second thoughts about. It also recommended that removing carbohydrates from children’s diet.
Casein is a milk protein, because of the fact that it creates a morphine effect, milk consumption in children with autism is not recommended. Since fermentation is a very important technique, it is very valuable for both children with autism spectrum disorder and us to consume homemade yogurt.
Experts stated that heavy metal-containing fish should not be involved in the diet of children with autism. And also they underlined that by emphasizing the red meat cooking techniques, consuming red meat is extremely healthy.
What Should the Diet List of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder Consist Of?
Meat: It should not be oil-free and not overcooked.
Red meat: Grazing animal meat should be preferred. The consumption of foods such as traditional sausage, roasting, and bacon is free. However, salami and sausages are forbidden due to additives.
Offal: It is very beneficial for health. But it is important to be careful not to be diseased.
White meat: Poultry should preferably be consumed.
Seafood (fish, mussels, lobster): It is not allowed to be consumed due to heavy metal poisoning. Since the seafood are grown in the pool, there are also toxins present in their bodies, their consumption is prohibited.
Seaweeds and sea algae (Colella or spirulina), that bind heavy metals due to the fact that they contain high chlorophyll, are free to consume.
Eggs: It is a top Quality protein source. Village eggs should be preferred. It can be consumed 1-4 per day. In order of preference; dew (if you are sure that there is no infection!), boiled, hard-boiled, roast (If it is possible, it should not be eaten. But if it is to be eaten, it must be made in olive oil or nut oil or butter, and the White of an egg must be cooked first, the yolk should also be added as raw.)
Vegetables and green leaves: All types are edible and can be consumed by individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. It should be consumed as raw. Dark green leaves are rich in vitamin K, calcium and magnesium, and also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Because they grow naturally, weeds (hibiscus, sorrel, stinging nettle, purslane, labada, etc.) are excellent. Purslane is the most important source of omega-3 in vegetables. The more green the vegetables are, the more chlorophyll they contain and the more heavy metals and toxins they help to remove out of the body.
French fries should never be eaten. A small number of potatoes can be added in the vegetable dishes (high sugar content).
Garlic: Because it contains antioxidants, it is one of the most important foods that protect the cells from rusting. Since it contains sulfurous compounds, it also helps in heavy metal discharge. Sulfuric amino acids are generally low in autism. Garlic should be crushed (not swallowed) and consumed within 1 hour at the latest. Onion is also as valuable as garlic with high sulfur content. Both garlic and onion should be consumed in high amount.
Olives: Salt should be removed as much as possible. Mostly, green olives should be preferred.
Fruits: Fruits which are containing phenol, such as apple, grapes, and strawberries, should not be consumed much by individuals with autism. Moreover, fruits with high sugar content such as apricots, grapes, bananas, should be consumed in a limited amount. Fruits with low sugar content should be preferred ones, especially freshness should be taken into consideration.
Legume family (chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas, cowpea, etc.): They should not be consumed more than 2-3 times a week. It should be kept in water for 48 hours by changing the water every 12 hours and should be cooked on heavy fire.
Soy: It is not a healthy food as it is claimed. Reduces protein digestion and absorption of calcium, iron, and zinc in the intestine. Disrupts the synthesis of thyroid hormone. It may lead to early puberty symptoms, infertility, and menstrual irregularities. It can also cause allergies and autistic findings.
Shelled nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflowers, gourd seeds, almonds, etc.): Rich amino acid (tyrosine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, etc.) and mineral (zinc, selenium, magnesium, etc.) contain. 1-2 palms per day (up to 25-50 grams) are quite useful and beneficial. It should be preferred to consume as raw and less salty.
Oils: Fat restriction is harmful to the body. Contrary to popular belief, when fat is low, it means sugar is more. Food with high sugar content makes more hungry people and more fat makes!
Margarine: It is absolutely prohibited! It is harmful even for normally developed people. So, for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder, it becomes more dangerous for their health.
Seed oils (sunflower seed oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, soybean oil, etc.): It should not be used but if it is necessary, very little amount can be consumed. It breaks the omega-6 / omega-3 balance in favor of omega-6. These oils from hot presses have corrosive properties.
Olive oil: It is excellent for both normally developed people and individual with autism spectrum disorder! Especially, extra virgin olive oil should be preferred.
Fish oil: It is kind of an elixir of life. It contains largely omega-3 fatty acids. It should be consumed by everyone like babies, pregnant women, teenagers, and elderlies. In children with an autism spectrum disorder, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA + DEHA) are quite low and they should use 1500-3000 mg of active fish oil (EPA + DEHA) daily. Fish oil does not fatten. It can be consumed both in summer and in winter.
Flaxseed: The second important source of omega-3 after fish oil. It should be lightly roast first and after milling in the coffee mill, it should be consumed by sprinkling 2-3 teaspoons per day in yogurt or in salads. Omega-3 strength is about one-tenth of fish oil.
Roasting: It is harmful to eat because it corrodes body cells. If it is necessary to eat, it should be made with butter, olive oil, or hazelnut oil. If the harmful effects of fries are wanted to be reduced, garlic yogurt and greenery should be eaten with them.
Teas: All kind of teas are beneficial and very helpful for bodies.
Pickles: It is very healthy to consume. It is rich in probiotics. Beetroot pickle is very beneficial especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorder as it is rich in betaine (DMG). Pickles must be consumed by reducing the salt. The vinegar (especially mere grape vinegar, balsamic vinegar) is quite healthy for the body.
Salt: The salt that is found naturally in food meets all the needs of our body. A small amount of salt can be added into pot dishes if the person still wants to add.
Spices: They are very healthy in terms of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they contain. It should be careful about it is not moldy while consuming.
Sugar: Refined sugar (tea sugar, fructose, etc.) and food made with them (pastry, biscuits, wafers, baklava, etc.) should be greatly reduced.
Chocolate: Consumption of chocolate should be reduced in individuals with high levels of copper among individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. Once a week, medium size, bitter and quality chocolate can be eaten. On the other hand, individuals with normal or low copper levels among individuals with autism may consume more chocolate. The fact that chocolate is rich in magnesium is one of the most important positive features.
Honey: One teaspoon per day can be consumed. All kinds of honey and all kinds of jam should not be eaten because they contain excessive sugar. At least 95% of the kinds of honey on the market are not natural. The molasses made with the fruit’s own sugar can be eaten.
Sweeteners and diet products made with them should not be eaten. In particular, aspartame (which is found in many dietary foods) can lead to many side effects, including depression.
Beverage: All kinds are forbidden to consume. Homemade fresh fruit juice can be preferred, if it is desired to drink.
Probiotics (useful microbes): Most of the children with autism spectrum disorder have impaired intestinal flora. In these individuals, pathogenic bacteria (especially clostridia), fungi (especially candida with cork) and parasites reproduce. These pathogenic microorganisms impair the digestion of foods and cause the formation of various toxins. A diet which contains low in flour and sugar, natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat, and eggs do not disrupt the preservation of the intestinal flora. Fermentation products (pickles, kefir, cheese, wine, vinegar) increase the probiotics which are found in the intestinal flora. Probiotics have been severely damaged in yogurts, which is sold in the market, and pasteurized milk.
Recommended Food (Antioxidants)
- Legumes such as lentils, dried beans, chickpeas, green beans and peas
- Dried fruits such as walnut, nut, peanut, almond, and pistachio
- Citrus fruits, apricots, black mulberry, cranberries, cherries, currants, red and black grapes, and other fruits
- Edible weed such as cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, chard, radish and beet leaves, turnip, mustard leaf, mint, parsley
- Garlic, onion, leek
- As selenium resources; dried fruits, meat, egg, liver
- Water: It should be drunk too much water as much as the urine should not be dark enough. The water which is drunk should not be too cold. The first option should be the natural spring waters, which are rich in various minerals. But sometimes in these waters, heavy metals can be found. If you are not sure of the water content, as is often the case, pass your water through a quality filter. You should not drink water with food. Because it reduces the effects of diluting water, digestive fluids. You can drink water half an hour before or after the meal. Drink one or two glasses of water before sleeping.
Casein-Free Gluten-Free (CFGF) Diet
Diets which are used in the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorder and found to be effective in some studies; special diets such as gluten-free, casein-free, ketogenic, special carbohydrate, Feingold, eliminated allergy, candida body ecology diet. In addition to these diets, various additive treatments (fatty acid, nutrients, multivitamin, mineral, zinc supplements, etc.) are used.
In casein free- gluten-free diet, all foods containing gluten and casein are removed from the diet. In the literature, some of the individuals with autism who have a gluten-free diet have shown a decreased in symptoms but many of them have not changed.
Some parents claim that their children with autism who are fed with casein-free and gluten-free diets have improved speech and behavior after a while. Therefore, it is thought that the consumption of gluten-free foods in their diets may be beneficial for the symptoms of autism, but this situation should not be expected to be in all persons diagnosed with autism because of being sensitive to gluten in some children with autism.
The digestive functions of at least 95% of individuals with autism spectrum disorder are impaired due to heavy metal and other toxins. For this reason, large molecules in casein (milk clot, cheese, a waterless portion of yogurt), in gluten (wheat protein) and in soy protein structure are digested and cannot be broken down into amino acids with the smallest units. And in this way, they break into the blood and impair the functioning of the immune system and the brain.
When the nondigestible protein fragments of these foods pass into the blood, they show morphine effect and increase the amount of free morphine produced in the body. These external morphine compounds (exocrine) have a large share in the occurrence of symptoms such as inability to have eye contact and decreased in learning ability, hyperactivity, stereotypic movements and self-mutation (self-harm) in almost all individuals with autism.
With the diet, the blood levels of these morphine decrease and the clinical findings are also alleviated. Up to 80% of individuals with autism benefit from the casein-free gluten-free diet. Sudden cutting of gluten and casein can lead to withdrawal syndrome (such as morphine dependence). In many of the individuals with autism, there is already an extreme indulgence of gluten (made from wheat flour) and/or casein (made from milk) food.
Therefore, it is not right to start two diets at the same time. First, the casein is removed from the diet. Diet usually shows a positive effect in two weeks. The complete clearance of the casein from the body takes 1-2 years.
Butter or cream are edible and they can be consumed. The yogurt water and kefir made by the classical method do not contain excess casein. The casein, which it contains, is largely fragmented by the enzymes produced by probiotics.
Cow and sheep’s milk contains A1-type casein in the milk and this casein is converted to kazomorphine. However, in human, horse, camel and goat milk, there is A2 casein case and there is no such transformation like cow and sheep’s milk. Cow and sheep milk and their products (yogurt, cheese, etc.) should not be consumed. Kefir or yogurt water which is made with these milk can be eaten. Goat milk, horse milk, camel milk and their products (yogurt, cheese, kefir) are free to eat.
The gluten-free diet starts slowly after 2 to 4 weeks of casein diet. The removal of gluten from the diet should be completed within 1 to 3 months. The effect of a gluten-free diet begins late. The effects are observed at 3 months, the earliest, and it takes 1 to 2 years to fully remove from the body. It is difficult to apply for a gluten-free diet. Because bakery products are found in a secret way in many convenience foods.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder should not consume, gluten-containing wheat, gluten-containing rye, gluten-containing oats, gluten-containing cereals and products made from them (bread, cakes, cookies, bulgur, pasta, noodles, flour soups).
Products made from corn, rice, and gluten-free flour are free to eat. Genetically modified maize should not be eaten. Rice, gluten-free flour and corn should not be over-consumed. As the amount of fast absorbed sugar is high, they increase insulin resistance and cause metabolic syndrome which is called secret plague modern-day.
Diet may be beneficial even if food allergy test results are negative. Therefore, testing is wasted. Removing from Some foods such as milk, wheat, oats, rye and soy from the diet is not harmful, for example, vitamin deficiency and mineral deficiency, on the contrary, there is plenty of benefits.
How Is Kefir Made?
Kefir is one of the most important food to eat for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. And, homemade kefir is more beneficial and more healthy for them. In order to make at home, there are some steps to follow.
The milk used to make kefir is boiled and warmed in a non-metal (preferably glass) container ( it is not necessary to boil the milk if it is clean). A layer of cream over the milk is taken and 1 tablespoon of kefir yeast is poured and the mild is mixed thoroughly.
The lid of the container is closed and the container is put in a place such that the milk remains at 20-25 ° C. The container, which contains the milk to be fermented, is brought near the stove or heater. If the temperature of the container is low, the container is wrapped around the cloth. The container’s heat should be at 20-30 ° C.
Milk in the container normally clots after 18-24 hours. If the amount of yeast is low and the environment is cold, clotting is delayed. Fermented milk is filtered through a non-metallic wire strainer or cheesecloth. The remaining grains on the filter are again used as yeast.
If the kefir yeast is not to be used immediately, it is stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Some people wash kefir grains before storing them. If the kefir grains are going to be washed, chlorine-free water should be used in order to prevent damage to the kefir grains. When it is desired to hide it, it is necessary to put the water in the cup until it covers the grains.
How Should Meals Be Prepared for Individuals with Autism?
- Meals should be cooked slowly in their own water. Besides conventional methods such as steaming, turbo ovens can also be used. Thus, the food is not damaged much.
- Fast cooking methods (such as a microwave) cause nutrient losses; they may also be carcinogenic.
- Frozen foods should not be preferred too much in order to consume.
- Canned food should not be consumed if it is possible (except house preserves).
- Hot food should not be wrap in aluminum foil.
- More soil (stew), glass or copper pots should be preferred.
- Enamel and steel cookware are the next choices.
- Teflon and aluminum should never be used.