According to a study published in the Nutritional Neuroscience journal, a gluten-free diet could help children with autism to suffer less from some of their symptoms, such as attention deficit disorder and difficulties interacting in society.
As reported by one school of thought, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) would be suffering from a greater number of gastrointestinal problems than the majority of other children. Which brings some to suppose that it is the gluten (protein found especially in wheat, barley and rye-based products) that is responsible for these problems and, furthermore, the cause for the behavioral disorders. The Autism Research Institute, located in California, recommends an gluten-free diet, judging from "very convincing empirical evidence" in the case of autistic children.
The study is based on the findings from a survey conducted among 387 parents confronted to the ASD of their children. By analyzing the answers to the 90 questions from an online survey, which dealt with stomach problems, food allergies and assiduousness to the gluten-free diet, the researchers concluded that this diet substantially diminished the ASD in children who suffered from gastric afflictions than the ones who didn't. By restraining the child's stomach problems, the gluten-free diet would facilitate the child's life, and his behaviour (language, eye contact, attention and interaction with the environment) would greatly improved.
These observations are pushing scientists to assert that autism is much more than a disorder simply neurological. It would also be related to the intestinal tract and the immune system. "It is a very close relationship that the brain and the immune system share and it passes through multiple physiological canals. The majority of pain receptors are located in the stomach. By adopting a diet without gluten and casein, it consequently reduces inflammation and discomfort that prevents the brain from functioning at ease. This makes the body more receptive to therapies against the TSA, " says Laura Cousino Klein, co-author of the study.
Surveyed parents who had opted for the removal of gluten and casein (a protein found in milk, butter and cheese) had noticed a considerable improvement over the long term in regards to the ASD. However, another study, published by a team from the University of Rochester, came to quite different conclusions. The researchers alleged that eliminating gluten and casein from young autistics' diet didn't lead to any changes in their behaviour or sleep and digestive patterns.
Finally, a study published last December had led researchers to argue that the gluten-free diet caused depression, eating disorders and "quality of life deterioration" in women who submitted to it.