A connection between the GFCF diet and the brain is often sought by parents of autistic children. Since success stories of a gluten-free casein-free diet have been widely touted on the Internet, there is reasonable cause to explore the effects of this diet on the brain. First and foremost, it is important to recognize the GFCF diet has markedly improved the symptoms of certain autistic children; however, this regimen is rarely advertised as a cure. Brain malfuctions caused by autism or even celiac disease are often positively affected by a a gluten-free casein-free diet, but the conditions may resurface in full swing once this treatment is ceased.
When you're exploring alternative treatments such as the GFCF diet, it is important to recognize the scientific theory behind such approaches. Conditions like celiac disease and autism are genetically provoked. When an individiual suffers from such illnesses, his inborn genetic code makes him sensitive to certain substances that are otherwise harmless in healthy persons. Whereas celiac disease has been attributed to genetic factors, autism remains a mystery. Some professionals believe this is a fully genetic condition, and others are investigating the possibility of environmental causes. Regardless, the important point in this sea of causational confusion is that genetic illnesses render their vicitms sensitive to certain dietary or environmental elements. These genetic weaknesses can turn a substance like gluten or casein into aggravating factors.
Hence, when an aggravating factor is eliminated from the victim's diet or environment, the disease can be kept at bay. Brain conditions such as autism may be aggravated by certain dietary substances. Not all autistic patients suffer from food sensitivities, but those who do possess these sensitivities will likely respond well to a GFCF diet.
The GFCF Diet and the Brain
The connection between the GFCF diet and the brain is not limited to autism or celiac disease. Many brain malfunctions from sesory disorders to memory loss can be attributed to food sensitivities. A strong bodily reaction to a food substance like gluten can result in an immune reponse that may attack brain tissue. Moreover, proteins like gluten and casein are large and, therefore, difficult to digest. Persons with merely a weak digestive tract may suffer reactions to these substances.
Should these reactions result in severe digestive distress, the small intestine may be affected over time. Constant digestive troubles, bacterial dysbiosis, or celiac disease can damage the digestive tract, rendering the small intestine permeable. When the intestine becomes inflamed and permeable, it not only impairs the digestion further, but it allows food particles to leak through the intestinal walls. This condition is often dubbed "leaky gut syndrome" by the alternative medicine community, but essentially what you have is a condition of malabsorption that may potentially lead to a toxic bloodstream.
When poorly digested food particles seep through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream, the body may react in a number of ways. This syndrome typically results in an impure blood condition which will affect the brain. The most common complaint of individuals suffering a brain reaction to maldigested food is brain fog. Memory loss, fatigue, and poor concentration are also common. However, in individuals who suffer from autistm, leaky gut syndrome and immune reactions can further aggravate cerebral function.
Poorly digested food also affects the delicate bacterial balance of the small intestine. In the event of dysbiosis, harmful microorganism strains will proliferate. These strains include the yeast, candida albicans. The latter emits neurotoxic byproducts into the bloodstream which have been known to aggravate autism and brain conditions as well.
A Successful Treatment?
It should be echoed that there is generally no harm in attempting the GFCF diet provided that you strive for well-balanced meals that are nutrient rich. In some cases, this diet may be healthier than your typical meal plan. If you do see improvement in your child's symptoms, then continue this dietary program. Do not expect a full recovery, but any progress should be noted and praised. If the diet does provide a steady improvement in symptoms, then you have reason to suspect that either food sensitivities or fungal infections (or both) have been aggravating factors in your child's condition.