Monday, October 02, 2006

Gluten-Free, Casein Free, Leaky Gut

Grace and I are now both on a Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet. Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, but also in barley, rye and oats. Casein is a protein found in milk products. I've basically been on a Casein-Free diet since this past June when a blood test revealed that I had food sensitivities to 35 foods, many of them forms of cow's milk. I ran into an acquaintance twice this weekend, a mother whose older daugther exhibits behaviors and tendencies, like Grace, that are consistent with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This mother put her daughter on the GFCF diet with excellent results. I'd heard about the possible link between wheat, milk and autism, but since none of the authorities believe Grace has autism, I have never taken too seriously implementing a particular diet with her. Until now.

When people say they are allergic to foods, more often than not, they are talking about IgE food allergies--allergies that account for only 5% of adverse food reactions--allergies to foods that produce almost immediate symptoms like skin rashes and blocked airways. The other 95% of adverse food reactions are due to IgG antibodies, the kind that I have and that I believe Grace, and many children with autism and autism-like symptoms, have.

This past summer, when I was still complaining about headaches, fatigue, depression, brain fog, dizziness, etc. my healthcare practitioner suggested that I be tested for food allergies or food sensitivities. IgG food antibodies are linked with delayed symptoms, even as much as 48 hours after eating a certain food, therefore making it near impossible to pinpoint what foods, if any, are causing particular reactions. I got the blood test, got my lab results, and sure enough, IgG antibodies showed up in relation to 35 foods that I eat. The most interesting thing revealed, is that out of the 35, 23 foods are high in protein. Which brings me to "leaky gut" syndrome.

Over time, due to many factors such as stress, caffeine, too much ibuprofen, etc., the stomach lining in adults can deteriorate, causing small holes and extreme thinning of the lining. When this happens, whole, undigested protein molecules then pass directly from the stomach into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, these large, un-broken-down proteins are seen by the body as foreign invaders and the body then creates antibodies to counteract them. This brings about food allergies and negative symptoms. I have fewer of these symptoms since I've been following the diet.

Take Grace. When given a choice of milk or juice, she always chooses milk. She eats lots of cereal, bread, pasta, and tortilla wraps--sometimes three and four in one sitting. Read the following taken from a website describing the possible effects of gluten and casein on a child's developing brain:

"The molecular structure of the partially undigested proteins in wheat and milk, known as peptides, resemble opiates. It is thought that such peptides have an effect much like opiates in the brain and nervous system. From this premise it follows that long term exposure to these opiate peptides can have many damaging effects on the developing brain and also affects behavior, just as any narcotic would."

So, in the mornings when I get so frustrated with Grace that she can't just put her pants on without her legs going all floppy, and when I tell her ten times nicely before raising my voice to "Come on and GET IN THE CAR!" it may be that she's not being obstinate but that her morning bowl of cheerios is doing her in?!

1 comment:

Bird Spot said...

I forgot to add that on the way to school today, Grace said, "I don't WANT to be Gluten Free for Halloween!"