Diet and supplements

The importance of a healthy diet cannot be underestimated as it is beneficial for health and fitness. Making a few changes to your diet can make a big difference such as taking out certain foods which cause an intolerance, e.g. wheat.

This is something which many parents of autistic children have turned to as a therapeutic measure. They make changes to their child’s diet such as eliminating foods which contain wheat or dairy products which often improves their child’s symptoms.

There are people who have wheat or dairy (cow’s milk) intolerance and so decide to eliminate foods which contain these substances from their diet. This means switching to a gluten (wheat protein) and casein (dairy protein) diet.

Another name for this is an exclusion diet.

Exclusion diet and autism

There are parents of autistic children who have noticed an improvement in some of their child’s symptoms after switching to an ’exclusion diet’.

This means removing or excluding wheat and dairy products.

Someone with an intolerance to these products often experiences bloating, stomach pains, diarrhoea or constipation, mood swings and tiredness. Plus these symptoms are often associated with autism, e.g. gastrointestinal upsets.

The answer is to eliminate wheat and/or diary products from their diet and replace these with healthy alternatives. Examples of these include gluten free products made with quinoa, spelt or rice, goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk and products which contain a minimal amount of lactose (found in cow’s milk).

Vitamin supplements

There has been research undertaken into the effects of vitamin supplements, such as Vitamin B6 on the symptoms of autism. Proponents of this argue that this and magnesium can lessen the symptoms of autism which also improves the child’s behaviour.

But opponents claim that there is insufficient evidence to support this and that further studies are required. Plus there are side effects from taking excessive amounts of vitamin supplements.

Check with your GP before embarking on a course of vitamin supplements. Ask his/her opinion about this and discuss the side effects of doing so.

It is probably a good idea to consult your GP before you make any changes to your child’s diet such as excluding wheat or dairy products. Another option is to obtain advice from a qualified dietician who has experience in autism.

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