So I am sure you all know that there are different types of special diets. There is the ketogenic, SCD, Low-oxalate, GFCF, Feingold…to name a few. I provided a brief description and some insights from a book I have in the text below. But, before thinking about implementing a special diet I would have some blood, stool, and urine work done to assess the allergy sensitivities, and nutritional deficiencies. I found this will help get the best results without guessing what to do. Good luck and I hope you find the information valuable.
The Ketogenic is basically a restriction on carbohydrates where the child would get more calories from fats, and gives more than the usual amount of protein. This forces the brain to use molecules called ketones, not glucose for energy. This diet is not always recommended and needs close medical supervision. However, it is said to reduce seizure activity about half to two-thirds. Many physicians would not recommend this diet to a child that already has seizures that are not related to autism. Again it needs much medical attention. But, some research finding in children with autism have shown overgrowth of disruptive bacteria. Because of this they don’t make enough enzymes to break down food, and the structure meant to help further digest and absorb. This relates to seizures because marginally digested meals can get too far down the GI tract with out being properly digest or absorbed, and end up feeding detrimental bowel bacteria, yeast or parasites. Which can cause an increase in toxins which circulates to the brain impairing behavior, mood, or sensory modulation. An example of this type of diet would be …
The SCD: Restores gut health and normalizes absorption. A great resource for this diet is detailed in the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall (This book is often hard to find in book stores but is an amazing resource). The diet aims to control the overgrowth of yeast and disruptive bacteria in the gut. The only potential issue with this diet is if children may have significant inflammation from all dairy protein, even goat dairy, and/or inflammation from other foods allowed on the diet. But, if your child does not have these issues it can be very effective. I have met a few people that have tried it and have seen a significant difference! If you are interested in trying this diet…visit the website www.scdiet.org. This will give you all the information you need to start the diet.
Low-Oxalate Diet: I won’t spend much time on this one because it is mostly for adults with autism. The diet aims to reduce formation of irritating oxalate compounds in the body. Oxalates are crystalline molecules that can form kidney stones or gallstones. So. Low-oxalate foods are permitted while high-oxalate types are avoided. Foods omitted on this plan happen to be what are used extensively in the SCD…for example almonds, pecans, carrots and berries. Other high oxalate foods are spinach, beets, chocolate, etc. Urine tests are used to check for levels of oxalate.
GFCF Diet: Most important thing to note on this diet is that it is overly starchy and sometimes inadequate for protein for many children because they are picky eaters and tend to have issues with eating meats and eggs. Thus, you are left relying on rice or soy milk for protein. Essentially, you will need to add biomedical treatments when implementing this diet to ensure the children are getting proper nutritional supplementation. This is the most popular of all the diets and many people have seen great success. I was recently told by a GFCF expert that to see optimal results you should implement the diet for a year. But, I believe that time frame is still up for debate. For recommendations on GFCF diets I would recommend visiting TACA’s website…www.talkaboutcuringautism.org or the GFCF Diet Support Group www.gfcfdiet.com
I forgot to add one important diet that you may want to try. I actually saw this listed on one of the boards I subscribe too and thought it was worth sharing. The Feingold diet is essentially the elimination of certain additives and chemicals. If you are interested in trying this diet, I would recommend the book Why Your Child is Hyperactive. By Dr. Feingold.
• Synthetic coloring (are made from petroleum – crude oil)
• Artificial flavoring (combinations of many natural and synthetic chemicals – eg imitation vanilla flavoring or “vanillin” might originate from the waste product of paper mills). There has been little research carried on these chemicals.
• Artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, and TBHQ, made from petroleum; also termed “anti-oxidants” because they prevent or delay the “oxidization” of fats in foods, which make them rancid)
• Salicylates (a group of chemicals related to aspirin, which are a naturally occurring pesticide in particular food plants – see ‘Food sources of salicylates’ below; also manufactured and used in many products including medicines, perfumes and solvents). Only some are eliminated on the Feingold diet.
• Artificial sweeteners (only aspartame is eliminated)
• Other food additives considered undesirable (such as MSG, sodium benzoate, nitrites, sulfites) – these are not eliminated – but are noted in the food list.
The diet is actually implemented in two stages. Again, I would recommend either the book or this website before giving it a try.
Please keep in mind that there are many things to considered when trying one of these diets (for example—timing, food elimination, nutritional supplements, to name a few) I only touched the surface on these diets. I would highly recommend looking into the references for more detailed information. Other references are:
Eating for Autism written by Elizabeth Strickland (book covers a 10 step Nutrition Plan and recipes)
The NDD Book (Nutrition Deficit Disorder) Written by William Sears, MD (book covers recipes, how fake food cause NDD, recipes, tips, and supplement recommendations)
But, my all time favorite book that really covers all the diets (some of my descriptions above are taken from parts of the book), pros and cons, full guides to supplements, recommended lab test and how to interpret, and Nutritional therapy advice…and so much more!
The name of the book is Special-Needs Kids Eat Right by Judy Converse
One last thing, your child doesn’t need to have autism to benefit from any of these resources. I know many parents with “typical developing” children that have purchased a few of these references to serve as a guide to eating better.
I wanted to pass along this info. I had the opportunity to meet with this Gluten-Free Chef and taste his food. I have to say, I am not an expert on Gluten-Free tasting foods however I was surrounded by a few that said he has some of the best tasting foods…especially his bread. At the event he did have a tasting and for Gluten-Free, it was very tasty. In addition to being Gluten-Free, his foods are also dairy-free. I do know that he sells his foods at markets/stores like Dr. B Wells in Plainview. And, if you get on his mailing list he can provide you with stores where you can purchase his food. I provided the link below. Also, later today I will populate the special diets section of the blog and include a few resources that I found helpful.