A few weeks ago, high-functioning and burgeoning celebrity autistic, Temple Grandin, gave a great interview in the Wall Street Journal. It is mentioned that:
While she's adamant that there is no magic cure for this disorder, Ms. Grandin says she has seen some "very big improvements" with special diets, like wheat-free and dairy-free.
Very interesting. Have any of you experience with attempting to treat/ameliorate autism with Paleo diet?
Sidenote: I have a friend who is a self-diagnosed Asperger, and he swears that he is less Asperger-y, since eating Paleo.
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on July 17, 2010
at 12:37 PM
I think this topic broaches a bigger picture: the explosion of autism, allergies, whatnot in children born much after 1980 (whether actual or imagined by modern hyper-protective hovercraft parents) didn't just come out of the ether. My non-scientist theory: the Std American Diet has produced an entire generation that will suffer ill health for life due to the diets of their mothers while in utero, and it's still ongoing. Treating this with a primal diet certainly won't hurt but I would aver that the damage has been done by birth.
My parents (I was born in 1962) ate a diet contemporary with the times and fads I suppose. My mother smoked a pack of Salems a day and split a pitcher of martinis (the real kind, with the little onion, not the sugar-bomb "chocotini" variety) or a bottle of wine with my dad every evening while carrying me. I don't know what they specifically ate, but I popped out the baby cannon just fine at 6lbs and neither me nor my little peers suffered any of the rampant syndromes, allergies, diseases so common in children now. Interesting also that modern average birth weights are far higher now than historically.
I work with a couple where the wife is about 7 months pregnant and wince internally at the absolute garbage they both eat at lunchtime. I'd imagine their other meals are just as toxic. They are both moderately overweight and she has gained a lot of weight with the pregnancy, though they're not clinically obese. I hope that a few years from now they will not be talking about their son's ADD, autism, allergies, whatnot.
My $0.02, worth what you paid.
on March 07, 2010
at 01:25 PM
I??ve Asperger??s. Best results with ketogenic diet + n-3, B6, magnesium. Sunshine and movement helps too.
on March 09, 2010
at 03:35 AM
From an evolutionary point of view I wonder if there is a positive feedback loop between agriculture, autism, and technological progress leading to yet better crop yields.
I could totally see ASD as a disease of civilization on one hand, but also an evolutionarily conserved, kin-selected adaptation on the other. Yes you want square-jawed hunters and warriors, but you also want a shaman/nerd who can calculate agricultural tax revenues and design irrigation systems, set bones, and cure simple diseases...
on March 06, 2010
at 08:48 PM
My son is an Aspie. We're going to try GF/CF this summer -- once the school year ends. (Everything I cook is paleo but that's not everything he eats right now... he's 7, easier to manage his food during summer break.) I have celiac and while he tested negative for it, I'm convinced that something gluten-related is going on there.
on March 06, 2010
at 07:37 PM
Although she doesn't call it paleo, in Gut and Psychology Syndrome Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD recommends a very paleo-like diet for Autism, A.D.D., Dyslexia, Depression, Schizophrenia, etc. Her clinic specializes in "Nutrition for Children and Adults with Behavioral and Learning Disabilities, and Adults with Digestive and Immune System Disorders." Her book has detailed information about how digestion works, the problems that grains and dairy can cause, and a fascinating section about how health problems can accumulate from one generation to the next.
on July 17, 2010
at 05:44 AM
If healthier living and eating improves brain function and mental stability, then I would expect to see benefits in everyone, but for those who have more problems, every bit of improvement probably goes a lot further towards daily functionality than those who had less problems to start with. I don't know if I would say that gluten and other foods CAUSE these problems like autism to start with (remains to be seen), but being healthy can have benefits across the board for many people. Of course, gluten and carbs and whatnot may also have had other earlier roles in the health of the mother and father and their eggs and sperm and the environment of the child in the womb as its brain developed, etc.
But on the flip side, I agree with Meng Weng Wong when she talks about the benefits to society that many aspergers and high functioning autistic types can have. Many of them are geniuses in their area of interest and their intense interest causes them to soon become experts and innovators. I would suspect that in ancient societies, these people would have greater and more useful roles as inventors and shamans. As well, perhaps in a more natural and more healthy environment, many of their symptoms would not have developed to quite the extreme level that we are seeing more of today either. -Eva
on May 17, 2011
at 01:45 PM
There was a recent study that examined this issue, and looked at 14 kids with autism, but without celiac disease or allergies to milk and wheat. They found that applying a gluten-free diet had no effect. However, this study excluded those that were most likely to benefit from the diet, and was only 14 kids.
The study I'd like to see is one that is broader and which includes kids that might be slightly or severely affected by gluten, and see if eliminating gluten improves their symptoms.
There are other success stories with parents using the "specific carbohydrate diet", which is not the same as Paleo, but does show that dietary changes may lead to some improvements. The premise behind this approach is based on developing good gut flora and improving digestion and the immune system.
Going off on a tangent, one of the most interesting approaches I've heard of was by a father who "hacked" his autistic son, and developed a therapy whereby he was given intestinal worms in order to affect his immune response, and the results were astonishing. He reports that the autistic symptoms have been gone for 15 months, after being present for 14 years.
Here is another article about this in The Scientist.
on April 30, 2011
at 03:57 AM
My 2 year old daughter has seen great improvements with paleo. Check out my page about her http://paleofreedom.com/about-me. I focus on keeping her grain free, but also dairy and legume free. She is a new kid! There will be a testimonial on Robb Wolf's site soon. I started her on 100% paleo after talking to Robb at one of his seminars.
on July 19, 2010
at 11:31 AM
Gluten and casein free diets are very helpful in my experience. It all goes back to the leaky gut, and opioid peptides (from gluten and casein) flowing to the brain, eventually accumulating in very large amounts, and the theory is that this can retard brain function in certain ways, specifically the social "deficiencies" AS/Autism sufferers (including me, to an extent) experience.
I can be off gluten for months at a time (which I have been lately) and eat it in relatively large amounts (like I did this weekend) and have no gastrointestinal distress whatsoever, which leads me to believe that I'm not gluten-intolerant in the traditional sense; but I know that if I begin to regularly consume it, I'll (most likely) start experiencing that cave effect, where I have a hard time talking to people and become very awkward. It's all anecdotal, but it's got me pretty convinced.
Then again, I've got an adrenal fatigue/cortisol/stress issue and have for a long time, and maybe gluten (and some small intolerance to it) is just aggravating that, hurting my social skills. All I know is that if I had a child with AS, my first step would be removing gluten/casein.
on July 18, 2010
at 12:49 AM
Everything is better without WHEAT
on March 06, 2010
at 06:38 PM
I don't have any immediate knowledge of autism, but have been interested in it for a few years due to my neighbour's grandson having it. I babysat the boy briefly in the past and am aware of the difficulties of that behaviour.
I also have read various articles that indicated perhaps dairy and wheat products contribute to autism.
In the course of looking up information for his mother and grandmother I came across the following article http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/another-autism-case-report.shtml Vitamin D may affect autism as well.
Hopefully the solution to this disease will be found soon, as it seems to be more prevalent now than in the past.
on May 01, 2012
at 11:10 PM
I am using the GAPS daughter to "cure" my daughter. Sorry to use the word cure but when you see her medical labs you can see that it is clearly a medical disease at least in her circumstance. Autism can be cured. I have talked with several people who have cured their children. When you have high copper, unusable B12, aluminum, mercury, etc. it is a medical disease and you just treat it.
on May 17, 2011
at 06:16 AM
My 7 yr. old has high functioning autism with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder and went from nearly moderate to mild after we put him on the gluten and casein free diet, and then I cleaned up his diet to include very little refined sugars, little to no perservatives, no dyes, and no nitrates. He is also allergic to peanuts, almonds and soy, so we definately avoid those. He is now very social, does much better in school, and seems to be "outgrowing his autism", which is the exact words friends and family use when they talk about him. Lately, he is developing an interest in sports. I notice he also does better with less carbs in his diet, so I try to give him at least one Paleo meal or more per day. He gets very hyper and defiant and very difficult/more emotional when I let him "carb load". He does not eat any vegetables still, but I have gotten him able to do chocolate smoothies with greens inside. So we are making progress there.
on February 08, 2011
at 05:53 PM
Paleo helps me function a lot better as someone with Asperger's. It's a lot of the intangible things that of course also help everyone, like patience, lower stress, fewer blood sugar swings, moodiness, etc. I don't get nearly as frustrated or overwhelmed by the world around me due to more energy and clarity of thought.
on February 07, 2011
at 04:41 PM
Have you looked into MSG sensitivity? Ive been reading alot lately on MSG, and it seems that MSG sensitivity is linked correlative to a significant # of Autistic situations as well as a ridiculous # of other health issues.
The other slightly shocking(slightly because we already know the evils) is that Wheat, Corn, Soy, Casein are all ridiculously high in natural free glutamic acid, converts to MSG.
Those big nastys we shouldnt be eating... and the Gluten Free, Casein Free recommended diet, which works for some and not others, could be as simple as those people eliminating the MSG and yet replacing it elsewhere, seeing only minor benefit from the Wheat/Casein removal, but not remission or stronger results because the MSG is still present.
Aspartame, that nasty artificial sugar, also converts to MSG, yet another reason to avoid.
on March 02, 2012
at 11:21 PM
When people talk about "treating" autism with diet or anything else, the terminology causes me to cringe. I was diagnosed with Aspergers when I was in Elementary school, as were my two brothers (my poor parents with their fleet of abnormal antisocial children!). My youngest brother ended up being diagnosed with what would be considered closer to autism, while as we grew up it was largely agreed that myself and my older brother had been misdiagnosed. My older brother and myself had developed our reading/writing/number skills very early, my older brother in particular being tested for exceptional math skills when he was only in grade 3. While my older brother and I were slow to develop social skills (hence the diagnoses), we eventually caught on to the whole process and the diagnoses was essentially "removed" from our student records etc. My younger brother on the other hand still has social anxiety, antisocial tendencies, experiences "sensory overload" as we say in loud/busy situations, has a preoccupation with smelling objects he comes in contact with, extreme discomfort being touched (mostly w/strangers), a brutally high IQ, avoids eye contact, has a "near photographic" memory, has a knack for learning foreign languages, and is still considered to have Aspergers or maybe something slightly different along the autism spectrum disorder. Through this combination of extensive family experience, my mother (then a psych nurse, and the daughter of a schizophrenic with an autistic brother) did extensive research and when I got old enough I joined in the familial pursuit of knowledge.
One of the main issues I have when I look at any product or plan is the idea of "treating", "curing", or "fixing" the autism spectrum disorder (ASD from now on). The fact is, autism is not a disease. It cannot be somehow purged from your brain and it is not something negative that should be fixed. It is a condition- a state of being that is slightly different and has been around since the dawn of time. To get rid of the ASD would be to change that persons entire being at the most fundamental level. Yes, ASD is not a walk in the park, and for every genius with ASD that is revered on the internet there are always struggles that you just don't see with day to day tasks that is an undeniable strain on some parents and caregivers. When you do anything for a person with ASD, all you are doing is help them manage some of the aspects of their syndrome, and that is how it should be talked about. It's all about managing all the physical and behavioral aspects that are associated with the syndrome to make the lives of those with ASD, and the lives of the caretakers, easier and more pleasant. Nothing is going to change who you are as a person underneath it all- that may sound over dramatic, but it's an important distinction, and as someone who has hunted for information I am tired of people offering "cures" when that is not at all what I want for my brother. I just want him to be happy and healthy!
I think it remains that improving your health will give you more manageable moods, less physical discomfort, and more energy, whether you have ASD or not. It may be more noticeable in those with ASD, especially when verbal communication is not entirely present- sometimes the only way my brother knows how to communicate how he's feeling is to cry or have a fit. It may be shocking to some people when my brother starts crying in public, because he looks like any other 19 year old teenager, but for him it's his way of letting us know how upset he is. When he is feeling better (in good health, has lots of energy) he is better able to manage his emotions, which allows him to communicate to us in a more effective way. There is also has been an observed link between autism and more issues in the digestive tract, which is one of the physical manifestations (and possibly associated coincidentally with genetics) of ASD. This means a greater sensitivity to diet- my brother started getting hemorrhoids when he was in his early teens all of a sudden, and frequently experiences constipation (which my other brother and I never had a problem with). All these things point to the fact that a diet that is high quality, nutritious, and possibly supplemented (vit D) will make a person with ASD feel and then act more optimally. It, however, will not "treat" away the disease. If you took away the ASD my brother would no longer be my brother- and that should never be the goal.
I applaud parents for providing as healthy an environment as possible for their children who have (not suffer from, HAVE) ASD- it is not easy to raise an "abnormal" person that others want to "fix". I have seen many, many, MANY, many claims for a "cure" that I believe are at best disrespectful and at worst a dangerous suggestion to vulnerable parents willing to do (and pay) anything.
on March 02, 2012
at 05:25 PM
I just stumbled upon this video (I was browsing on Animal Pharm). Awesome video. I've been slightly autistic myself. I was never diagnosed, but I was always very shy, not very talkative. I had early puberty, ...
Slowly I'm connecting the dots. If only my doctor would allow me to do blood tests even though I'm not sick anymore.
on February 07, 2011
at 04:20 PM
My 14 year old son has Asperger's Syndrome, I am not diagnosed but I believe I have a very mild form and my father who is 70 years old, has it as well. So in my experience I believe this "syndrome" is hereditary. We eat low carb in my house but, my aspie kid is very picky about food which is typical. He does love eggs, fish, chicken and some beef though so it hasn't been too bad getting him on higher fat but he loves the carbs and not the good ones! He does not get enough greens or fruit but we do what we can. I have not noticed aside from the obvious things that this way of eating has helped any with his aspie symtoms. He tends to have stomach/Lower GI problems occasionally but as far as what "makes" him an aspie, it's no better that I can see.
on July 17, 2010
at 10:43 AM
This video might be interesting for you. It's only TV but it might be one or two more cases that confirm this theory: Autism Treatment through wheat and dairy removal
on March 20, 2010
at 11:17 AM
My middle child, a daughter, is PDD-NOS (that's a bit 'below' Aspergers, so to speak) and I saw zero improvement taking her cold turkey from SAD to VLC. I relise that she's still eating a small amount of wheat, but you'd think that there would have been improvement if wheat were a factor.
I HAVE seen improvement after beginning fish oil and D3 supps! All of my children are currently on both fish oil and 2000 D3 a day and I've seen improvements in attention and excitability and concentration in all of them.
on March 10, 2014
at 04:58 AM
Do you really want to know what causes autism? In the majority of cases, It is a neuroimmune dysfunction, like many other neurological conditions, caused by immune dysfunction and infections (also thyroid dysfunction is very common here), and causes reduced blood flow to certain areas of the brain, as well as autoimmunity. Many autistic kids also have autoimmunity to other areas of their body, like colitis, crones, hashimotos, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Dr. Goldberg who runs the neuroimmune dysfunctions clinic in CA and also Dr. Rosario Trifiletti successfully treat large numbers of autistic children by figuring out what infections they have and treating them, as well as helping to strengthen their immune system. Dr. Goldberg actually recommends more of a paleo type diet and uses immune modulators to help his patients overcome their autoimmunity and infections. Lyme and other tickborne infections are major key players in autism and if you looked at symptoms of later stage lyme you'd notice many of them coorespond with autism. Viruses, mycoplasma, candida, mold, strep, and coxsackie virus are also commonly found in autistic children and individuals. Very few cases are truly genetic, but autistic children often have common genetic mutations like COMT, MTHFR, and other ones that affect detox of the body, absorption and conversion of folic acid, vitamin D and B12, and methylgroups, and mutations that affect neurotransmitter levels. If you think I'm full of crap, well, guess who has an autistic child? My son with autism has lyme, mycoplasma, strep, hhv6 and ebv virus, hypothyroidism and autoimmune brain disease (PANDAS). I have a second PANDAS kid with mycoplasma, strep and hhv6,hypothyroidism,no lyme and ebv, no autism. I would venture to say that lyme and the other tick borne infections may be the biggest straw that breaks the camel's back and causes an already sick child to regress into autism. That autistic child does not absorb vitamins D, folic acid, and really has trouble converting B12, breaking down food into energy and breaking down neurotransmitters. I can say without a doubt Paleo is a great idea to get your autistic child eating healthier, because they need to eat as healthy as possible in order to start fighting these infections and recover. By the way, I know about 20 or so other autistic kids who have been also found to have a plethora of infections. Autism does not happen in a random bubble, and it's not our society evolving to a higher life form, or whatever the hell you want to guess it is.
on May 28, 2012
at 09:28 PM
Some autistics have super-abilities. Could going on a Paleo diet reduce these?
on May 02, 2012
at 05:50 AM
Cool question! Okay, let's see the facts:
Grew up in a rural town in Portugal:
- Got lots of sunshine.
- My diet mainly consisted of: home-grown food: very high animal fat, definitely an insane amount of seafood (I lived in an island), lots of vegetables, mostly stuff like kale, cabbage, potatoes. Breakfast was a small homemade bread roll (the real stuff) with a huge! chunk of cheese (raw, high fat, made in the same town), and full fat local milk coffee (no water). I know all this because even very little girls in my family helped prepare food, make chorizo and blood sausage, etc. - I was a very intelligent child, could have easily skipped more than 4 grades.
- Very shy, didn't understand social rules.
- No other Asperger symptoms.
- No food intolerances.
- Very good immunity, never got sick!
Moved to USA:
- Started eating like most Americans do. Awful, just awful...
- No sunshine, always in a building or a vehicle. Snowy state.
- After a few years (3, 4?) I started having most of the Asperger symptoms.
- After some more years, noticed I had food intolerances.
Still in USA, but:
- Took 10,000ui vitamin D3 for a few months, now 5000ui every other day.
- Had (beef or chicken) bone broth soup everyday for breakfast.
- Eat high (animal) fat (about 60-70% of calories), with mostly dark green leafy vegetables.
- I try to eat fish once a week, but it's very expensive, can't always afford it.
- Crazy, Asperger symptoms and leaky gut problems are gone!
If someone wants to link Aspergers to metal fillings, yes, I did "get" Asperger's after I got fillings.
In the same month, I also had a lot of vaccinations done in one day (it's required when immigrating to USA).
I don't believe either of those caused my problem. Just sharing the information.
Make your own conclusions. If you have any questions, feel free to ask :)
on May 02, 2012
at 05:17 AM
I wish I had more time to respond to this post right now - I plan to return to it and read through more of your answers. For now, I'll just mention that I work as a research assistant on a neuroscience study on Autism. The kids who come into the study are all diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum, some Asperger's, some Autism. I can't count the number of times parents endorse some sort of of wheat or gluten sensitivity when asked about food allergies. I would say, off-hand, at least 75% of the families I've asked.
It kills me that I can't think of the podcast I heard several months ago on the topic as well. It was a great overview of at least one in-depth study relating gut goings-on with autistic symptoms both when the mother consumes gluten during pregnancy, and when the child does as growing up. I can't remember the exact connection, but it seems very obvious that there is one. I do believe many clinicians recommend a gluten- and sugar-free diet for children with Autism or Aspergers to help lessen symptoms.
On a similar note, Omega-3's/fish oil seems to get the mention quite a bit from the families who come in to the study.
on May 02, 2012
at 03:45 AM
I recommend reviewing Aditi Shankardass's work on learning disorders and the use of brain scans to help diagnose conditions. Some disorders can be due to brain seizures, which are treatable. Check out her excellent TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/aditi_shankardass_a_second_opinion_on_learning_disorders.html
on March 02, 2012
at 08:26 PM
My son is Aspy, I was diagnosed ADHD in the 3rd grade, however I've used the same tests my son has taken and my symptoms and mannerisms are more on the Aspergers spectrum. My uncle is also an aspy.
My son is not on a particular diet but goes to a school that specifically works with kids with mild LD's. He is also on mild ADHD medications, we tried GF/CF and while the symptoms improved, he was still incapable of attending school without outbursts - begrudgingly we worked very hard with his doc and school to get medication that was as low-impact as possible.
I eat starches for two meals a week. My carb intake averages 8-12% of my total calories. It has improved my thinking and most notably, my focus. I am not medicated, but after 30 years on this earth I feel I have specific self-coping mechanisms in place.