Autism and Diet

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Edited 12/11/18

Best Diets for Autism? 

Throughout the years, special diets have been created for weight loss and health purposes, and others do resort to alternative medicine as compared to the prescription medicines doctors recommend us to take for many ailments, diseases and disorders. In some cases, these changes in lifestyle nutrition may work, but the results may also vary and sometimes might not work, as everyone has a different genetic make-up, and may not respond to treatment the same as the next. The question is, is there an Autism Diet?  

The number of children diagnosed as Autistic grows every year. At the time of this writing, there is still controversy over whether children are born with Autism, or if it’s developed after birth. More studies show that it does start in the womb. Because of the number of questions, and the lack of answers revolving around Autism, it isn’t really a surprise that throughout the years, there have been several proposed special autism diets that do claim that it helped improve symptoms of autism.  


Finding an Autism Diet for Your Child

First, it must be noted that these autism diets claim to only have improved symptoms of Autism, and not “cured” them of it. But, the improvements can be significant enough to reduce the ADOS score in a child. The ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) shows where a child ranks on the spectrum. As of the moment, according to the National Autistic Society, there is no cure for autism. Autism is experienced differently as it is a wide spectrum, and different types of intervention depending on what is most effective for the individual is one of the best ways to go for now. One of the most effective ways to see how a particular autism diet can affect someone diagnosed with Autism disorder is through trial and error. An elimination diet is the most recommended way to getting started by doctors. By eliminating most processed foods for a period of time, recording any changes in symptoms and behavior and then slowly introduce possibly offending foods back in to the autism diet one by one, you will start to see what foods help or hurt the disorder.
Always seek medical advice before changing your diet.  


Types of Autism Diet

Among the many special autism diets that are out there, there are three that stand out in most scientific articles on the subject. Although none of these autism diets have been found to be 100% effective for all children with autism, they have been found to help some children. It always best to consult a doctor before trying a new autism diet.


  1. Autism Diet – Ketogenics

    The most popular autism diet that has hit the neurotypical and atypical world is the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low protein and low carbohydrate autism diet that was developed in the 1920s to help those with epilepsy and seizures. It is thought that by becoming fat adapted, rather than allowing your body to depend on sugar and carbs for energy and brain function, you would see a vast reduction in symptoms. This diet can be very helpful to persons with Autism who do have seizures. According to the 2017 controversial documentary “The Magic Pill”, the autism diet did help a non-verbal young autistic girl with seizures and allowed her speak for the first time, just after a week on her new high fat autism diet. She became more calm, responded to simple questions, and was able to start learning new skills only after 10 weeks on the ketogenic diet. She was also able to reduce the narcotic medications she was taking in that short time.  Another child featured in the film was shown to reduce his ADOS score by 50% in 6 months on the Ketogenic autism diet. According to Autism Canada, however, this sort of diet should be done only with close medical supervision. Also, there isn’t a lot of research and study that supports that it truly works, and is still speculative.  

  2. Autism Diet – Gluten Free / Casein Free

    The gluten free- casein free autism diet is another popular autism diet that has sparked a lot of interest in the autism community. The gluten free-casein free autism diet excludes gluten, which is found in wheat and most grains; and casein, which is found in milk and dairy products. According to Psychology Today, one of the driving forces of the autism diet is to help prevent leaky gut, and according to the Interactive Autism Network, to help improve brain function. There have been more studies about this particular autism diet as compared to most, but despite that, results have been mostly inconclusive, although there are cases in which they did benefit from it. Individuals, though,  who do have celiac disease will definitely benefit immensely from a gluten free diet.

  3. Autism Diet – Carbohydrate Specific

    Another autism diet that has showed a little improvement is a Carbohydrate Specific autism diet. This kind of autism diet is where carbs are limited to being only all natural and not processed. Carbs that come from a box or a can or any other packaging, are not permitted . The idea is that sugars and starches from processed carbohydrates cause chaos in the body, particularly with glucose and insulin, possibly making symptoms worse.    


Always Seek Professional Advice for Your Child’s Autism Diet

Through the right autism diet, it’s possible to positively impact the brain, the pancreas, arteries, and muscles to reduce the symptoms of Autism.  

So far, research results of special autism diets are speculative at best, but there are cases where it does work for particular individuals. One can try out these autism diets with themselves or their children, but please remember to take everything with a grain of salt, and more importantly, consult a licensed medical practitioner or nutritionist first to make sure that these autism diets will do more good than harm. The silver lining is, there is hope of an alternative to potentially harmful medications.  




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