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Gluten and Autism Connection

5 Foods That Can Make Autism Worse

Having seen more than 1,000 patients with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at Amen Clinics, one of the first lessons we learned is that the ASD condition is not caused by one specific thing in the brain; there are actually 8-10 different factors that influence abnormal brain function.

We see ASD brains through SPECT imaging that are wildly overactive – often due to an inflammatory process. For others, we see brains with dramatic under-activity, that may be due to a toxin or some type of insult or injury to the brain.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to look at brain function when coming up with a treatment plan for ASD. Throwing medication-tipped darts in the dark can hurt people. But there is one thing that ALL people with ASD should do regardless of whether their brains are overactive or under-active…eliminate anything that can hurt their brain.

The Food You Eat Matters

It is important to realize that the food you eat is either medicine or it is poison. Here are the top 5 foods to avoid as they can make ASD worse.

1. DAIRY

When casein (one of the proteins in dairy) mixes with stomach acid, it produces something called an exorphin. Exorphins bind to the opioid receptor sites and can result in a myriad of troubles – brain fog, spaciness, inability to concentrate, and a numbness to pain, just to name a few.

In our experience, when people with ASD removed dairy from their diet, they began talking more, their hyperactivity was reduced, and bowel problems were resolved.

2. GLUTEN

A mixture of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, gluten can increase inflammation when ingested. In fact, your body can create antibodies to gluten which can fire up, or inflame, your brain.

Gluten seems to particularly negatively affect the functioning of the cerebellum. Through our imaging work, we have discovered that those with ASD already often have decreased functioning of their cerebellum – consuming gluten can just make it much worse.

3. CORN

Eighty-five percent of the corn raised in the United States is raised with pesticide. Additionally, it has the most unhealthy fatty-acid profile of any grain…yes, you read that right, GRAIN. Corn is NOT a vegetable. Corn has been found to be a breeding ground for as many as 22 different fungi. There is simply nothing truly beneficial and many potentially harmful things that can come from eating corn.

4. SUGAR

Not only is sugar pro-inflammatory, it also increases erratic brain cell firing and it is very addictive. For many folks with ASD, it is likely that they had some type of insulin to their brain so when they consume sugar, the damage from the insulin is just magnified.

Avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates and increasing lean protein can dramatically improve concentration and judgment, and decrease impulsiveness.

5. ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS

While these things are not really “foods”, they are unfortunately in so many food products that we wanted to list them here. Avoid all additives, preservatives, dyes and artificial colors, artificial flavorings, and artificial sweeteners.

If you or a loved one has ASD, paying close attention to the foods being consumed is particularly important. Along with diet, other areas should also be investigated to uncover and address the challenges of ASD.

At Amen Clinics, we use a multi-faceted four-circle approach to treatment that includes biological, psychological, social, and spiritual elements to identify areas needing optimization. To learn more or to schedule your comprehensive evaluation, please visit us online or call 888-288-9834.

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COMMENTS

  1. E Mahlmann says:

    Where did those statistics come from on corn? Never heard such ludicrous misinformation and statements after being in agriculture for over 25 years!

    • Lyndsi Nicole says:

      Corn isn’t even regulated by the FDA!! They’ve genetically modified it to have so much pesticide in it that it can’t even be considered food!!!! You should know this since you’ve been in the industry so long…..

      • Julie says:

        Careful, Mihman… your brain malfunction is showing.

        • islandergirl says:

          Mihman, wake up and look at the facts!! As a parent of a child/adult affected with autism, ai am VERY CONCERNED with all of this! Years ago, before all of the GMO crap, this was NOT an issue.

          • Bjorn says:

            As an adult with austism, all of your comments to Mihman are really embarrassing and make me worry for your children.

        • Meg Kapp says:

          brainwashed do some real research and stop believing all the garbage the pesticide industry is selling their in it to make a profit they do not care about anyone’s health

    • Marilyn says:

      Corn is a seed. Just like grains. They are seeds of grasses.

      • Ginger Smith says:

        Gmo..Genecticaly modified like clonenning .its taken from corn and spliced untill the real corn is no more …so you eatinf fake corn.

    • Valerie says:

      Wakeup! Corn, corn syrup is in everything, its getting fed to animals that were never meant to have GRAIN in their diet. A cow has 7 stomachs and needs grass to ruminate (chew) to produce milk. Our agri business like the pharma business is corrupt!!!

    • Joan Rogers says:

      The effects of corn on humans is well documented, over 40 years that I recall. Just think: Every culture that uses corn as a primary ingredient in their diet, well, depression and lack of social, economic growth is stunted. Look at central and south America, vs Europe. It will become very clear to you. Corn, every once in a while is great, but eaten in generous doses, ingredients in meals daily, well, long terms problems. Just think about it.

    • As a nurse, with 50 years experience, I can tell you pediatricians have recognized that corn is harmful to all young children as it contributes to ear infections. says:

      As a nurse with fifty years experience, I can tell you pediatricians have been advising parents to avoid corn for children four at least 40 years because it contributes to ear infections .

    • Cynthia Bolick says:

      My 27 yr. Old son has severe behavior issues when he consumes corn products, and even when he consumes gluten free flour products. They cause severe inflammation, and trigger horrible behavior. He suffers from autism. When the food is removed the behavior stops after 24 hours. I’ve seen this happen when he participates in events where i am not present to monitor his food intake. Several years after seeing the correlation we a out these foods or have to call for crisis intervention. I’d much rather avoid foods which trigger inflammation.
      It’s easy to judge when you don’t experience how food can trigger bad behavior.

  2. Dee says:

    Non GMO corn like your corn on the cob (I grow my own) is probably not going to be too bad, (but the article is referring to autism / gut health to avoid all together and I’m certainly not disputing that) but all the over-processed garbage / exploitation that is produced today (corn produce) is where the problem really starts and where it is definitely considered a grain/allergen. Corn products have been a staple in diets in Italy (polenta), Mexico and poorer nations etc for centuries, however how it has been exploited today is a different story which means we have to really exercise our rights as consumers and smarten up with our purchases. Corn products today have become a sneaky ingredient found in so many products unnecessarily. I don’t have autism (compassion to those who do) but I have had gut issues such as leaky gut so avoid most corn products now that I’m (mostly) healed. I may occasionally have a non GMO corn on the cob very rarely and in a social setting, but if my symptoms come back, I make changes and note potential allergens (what triggered it). This is a good article to offer help and awareness to those with autism, or for a carer of someone with autism. I also don’t know if this is correct, but I don’t mind so much when travelling in EU to have a little bit of corn product bcos it’s not like the super exploited grain that it has become in the US. Hopefully, with more people taking a stand on our beautiful planet that things can do a turn around with GMO foods – as in abolish them and nit over exploit. Perhaps we would then see a decrease in the world with autism and the like.

    • Kirstin Mae says:

      Lol all corn is GMO. Real non GMO corn was “at least 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte. Teosinte looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn.” If that’s what you mean by non GMO, cool. If not then I’m sorry to say all “corn on the cob” is GMO. It was genetically modified by selective breeding. Scientists today is using the very same concept except faster in a laboratory instead of hand rubbing plants together or relying on bees. 🙂

      • MaryEllen Cox says:

        GMO and cross-breeding are two entirely different things.
        Cross breeding can only happen in closely linked plants and animals.
        GMO is done between unrelated species.

      • Lisa says:

        Genetically modified organisms are completely different than cross or selective breeding. Gmos have had an additional gene from another species forced into the DNA strand. Instead of 12 – (6 pairs) they have 13. This is completely unnatural.
        This extra gene provides the plant with the resistance to roundup. This allows applications of roundup by plane over the entire crop several times throughout the life of the crop.
        Roundup is systemic meaning it is taken up and trans located throughout the plant and deposited in “sinks” within the plant. Sinks are places the plant stores sugars -fruit, flowers, roots. Even though the plant is resistant to the herbicide effects, it still up takes the roundup and trans locates it to the fruit i.e. cobs.
        Roundup was patented as an antibiotic a few years back. It is a very potent antibiotic.
        It has been discovered that the flora of microorganisms in the human gut are responsible for 100% of the immune system as well as the manufacture and regulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. These micro organisms in the gut weigh approximately 7 pounds and collectively are known as the Microbiome which is an organ as important as the heart. It has been determined that damage to this microbiome is 100% the cause of celiac disease.
        Corn, corn syrup, and other corn products are in almost every food. 95% of all corn grown in this country is genetically modified as are most soy beans, sugar beets, cotton, alfalfa and many other crops.
        Basically crops are soaked to saturation with roundup, then harvested and fed to us. The extra gene, the antibiotic properties of roundup and the way that roundup binds to metals rendering them biologically unavailable and that roundup can substitute for an amino acid in the building of protein molecules are just some of the ways that roundup causes the damage to us that it does.
        I encourage you to watch a 35 minute talk by Dr Thierry Vierran titled the Effects on nutrition by gmos. It is on Utube. Dr Vierran spent his entire career developing gmos for industry through the university system in Canada. After 30 years he began to observe very negative effects from the gmos he created and has set out to educate and warn people of these dangers. He is very credible and the presentation will really open your eyes and make you rethink the safety of roundup and gmos. There are many very credible scientists and Drs doing work in this area.

    • Denise says:

      Corn protein is a problem as it can cause an autoimmune reaction. That has nothing to do with GMO!

      • Laurie says:

        I agree with you!! The autoimmune issue is exactly why kids with autism can’t eat corn,along with the protein gluten,and dairy.my daughter is 7 years old and has autism,and her gut is very sensitive to many things which lead to behaviors that people who don’t understand Autism can’t deal with,so as far as our experiences with finding the right foods, anything with pesticides or chemicals or artificial additives will effect our children.that is a fact,and I am a parent that prefers to heal my child naturally and not have to take medication to control behaviors.

    • Thank you for bringing this back to the point Autism. I don't know we are rehashing the corn/corn syrup argument that has been known for some 30+ yrs. I am 42 and my pediatrician had me stop eating high fructose corn syrup in 1986 to help with a says:

      Thank you for bringing this back to the subject……. Autism.
      I don’t know we are rehashing the corn/corn syrup argument that has been known for some 30+ yrs. I am 42 and my pediatrician had me stop eating high fructose corn syrup in 1986 to help with allergy symptoms and side effects. IT WORKED!

      Now as for getting children on spectrum to be able to regulate their brains and control their bodies. Any one have good advice???

  3. Michael Kingsbury says:

    This sentence above, in item #4 (sugar), “Not only is sugar pro-inflammatory, it also increases erratic brain cell firing and it is very addictive. For many folks with ASD, it is likely that they had some type of insult to their brain so when they consume sugar, the damage from the insult is just magnified.”

    You used the word ‘insult’ twice. Is this really what you meant?

  4. Lorna says:

    Could you please post the references to the publications that support these recommendations.

  5. Pat Bouwman says:

    After we removed gluten from my son’s diet, his emotional al

    • John says:

      Your comment was cut off.

      I am curious as to what happened when you removed gluten from son’s diet?

    • Vanessa says:

      I would also like to know what happened when you removed gluten from his diet.
      I have a 24yr old son with Autism and I’m desperate to find a way to alleviate his symptoms. He also has ADHD
      Because of his anxieties and extreme OCD , we can’t even take him out in public.

      • Brisket says:

        I’m a 24 year old male in a similar situation and very tired. I cut the above things out of my diet and stopped smoking and drinking 8 days ago. I also take what I’m sure are enough vitamin supplements. My diet right now is only seasoned 80/20 ground beef loaves. I plan eating the same thing for 90ish days, then evaluating myself and getting bloodwork done, then expanding my diet.

        Eating enough is difficult with no cheese or bread. An empty belly tanks my mood and energy level, especially now, so cramming uncomfortable amounts of beef loaf in my face at least three times a day is necessary.

        Compared to the past month, EVERYTHING is a little better. I also have no acne anywhere and it looks like the bags under my eyes are gone. This article was the final proof I needed to change my diet.

        Most importantly, I look forward to putting in the work to get out of my Mom’s house before I turn 35 and have to empty out my brains in a bathtub. Good luck. Great article!

        • anita says:

          Brisket…what you are doing I say called the carnivore diet…I’ve heard good things about it!

        • Alysha Socie says:

          Gluten doesn’t mean all grains are bad. You can still eat oats and rice.

          • Trudy Cash says:

            My son is autistic all grain is impossible for him. Corn and dairy too. My son was normal until he had his shots when he was 2 . He used to be able to talk until then. Diet change helps so much to give him a better life. Dark greens are his favorite. Corn rice and oatmeal for him had to go. He could do anything. He was like he was drugged up to sleep all day on those. Trial and error we had to test and watch him dark greens and meats and fruits works for my son

      • Eugenia says:

        Happy to have read this passage, it really helped of some of the staffs that are really dangerous for my child. From now on, I will stop giving him things that make autism worse. Thank u!

      • Cynthia Bolick says:

        I removed my so , with autism from gluten and lactose, his behavior improved by 80 percent. Gluten is hidden in whey, so read the ingredients. My son can’t tolerate any, even gluten free flour products. I removed him from sodas, pepper, eggs, and I continue to learn how sensitive he is to certain foods. No going back though, can’t try it one day and not all the others

  6. Amina Mohamod says:

    Hi Vanessa,
    I have 5 years old daughter with ASD, what she eats is so important, she is dairy and gluten free, not strictly as she sneaks and eats sometimes, I believe food is medicine or poison theory. All dairy affects her she instantly she becomes very hyperactive , happy, cannot concentrate, very sensitive to certain noises, cannot sleep at night well, that is dairy. Gluten has the opposite effect on her she becomes very tired lethargy, grumpy, lashes out for no reason. I try to control these foods including sugar and processed food as much as I can. I read so much information over the years but I found this through trail and errors, may be you can try this with your son and see how it goes I know every person is unique and it can be hard to control older person, and I try to minimise carbs and offer homemade meals and fresh fruit and vegetables and supplement good fish oil. As a parent you feel guilt when you strict from your child what all the children are having and they don’t understand why but known that is their best interest keeps me going. Best of luck all of you

    • mina says:

      Hello Amina;
      I am writing to you to find out if it is possible to talk to you by email. I have few questions but I do not like public conversation. if you can’t I do understand. However if you may please email me at stillmina7@gmail.com

      Thank you
      mina

      • paul says:

        It’s easy—feed kids the food that is fit for human consumption. Having brought my 2 year old niece back form the dead and from autism with food and homeopathy I know what I saw and experienced over and over. organic diet, little meat , no grains (quinoa is good ) veges, low sugar fruits, NO SUGAR, wholefoods, not processed, nuts and seeds activated (pre-soaked), lots of love, self regulation lessons and support. keep them away from doctors, medicine, vaccines and psychs. unfortunately parents aren’t in any way responsible for their kids these days , so………..

  7. Ron Sprague JR says:

    Corn is used to fatten up your beef. If you want to eat something that will fatten you up and make it hard for your body to digest, eat corn.

  8. Sandra Sloan says:

    I’m interested in Autism, I have a Godson, 11 years old, he weighs 212 lbs, since he was put on Saphis 5mg, it helps tremendously to calm him down, but it had blown him up. He has a nutritionist, I
    have avoided a lot of foods bad for him, nevertheless best too big, what do you sugest?
    I’m desperate for help!!

  9. Rikko says:

    Amen Clinics are very good but try a bunch of things prior to spending the $5,000 -$10,000 on them.

    Note: I am 52y/o male with Aspergers. I use what I preach.

    Limit all artificial flavors, colors, preservatives. No sodas due to the high fructose corn syrup. And no….. high fructose corn syrup is not processed the same as regular table sugar regardless of what the Corn Growers likes to tell the public.

    Find a local psychiatrist,neurologist ,clinical social worker or psychologist who uses Neurofeedback.

    I can discuss Neurofeedback all day and how it works well for most when used when applied properly.

    See a functional medicine physician. Amen Clinics are that too.

    Find a local DBT class for your Godson. Not…CBT….DBT.

    There is a superb online DBT class run by Debbie you have to look online she’s very well-known it’s superb that might work and might be actually cheaper than in person.

    I take no meds. My son with Autism doesn’t either.

    Food is our medicine.

    Feel free to email me.

    Hopefully, the great ppl at Amen will allow my email to show.

    I have plenty more tips, tricks and ramblings……

    ngbk01@yahoo.com

  10. Niurka says:

    Hi!

    Good tips!

    I absolutely agreed with you, because I have to work more hours now and my son is eating anything, so his behavior has changed to be more hyperactive.
    I must change his diet immediately!

    Thanks for your recommendation!

    • Nick says:

      What medicine for Autism? My brother (half) has resided with our family since age 10 , now 46. No meds for Autism. It is believed he had a milk allergy since infancy at 10 he acted like a 5 yr old. Growing up with our 3 now adults he became sociable accepted in al environments. He has Hispanic Anglo genetic disposition. Since we found out he couldn’t tolerate milk we don’t give him milk products. Due to this article I will monitor the corn intake. Recently we have had several dishes with corn. I have noticed an increase in mood and anger episodes
      He is usually controlled by persuasion verses meds. No one has ever offered him or suggested meds for his autism. He has always eaten his cereal daily without milk only water. We due avoid gluten cereals and sweeten cereal. Thank you for your time. Nick V.

  11. Jayne says:

    Lots of ASD in my family. Everyone does better on a diverse, home cooked diet, ie. as little processed food as possible. Stews with lots of veggies (starchy & non starchy) are pretty easy to make & generally inexpensive. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days. Best choice is a mix of fresh chopped veg with a bit of meat of some kind (start with sautéed onion to give it that delicious base before adding liquid). Another great choice for those who wince at veggies is making veg patties or loafs. Grating or finely chopping the veg disguises it. If they contain half potato that’s ok. You can sautée them thin in a bit of oil or bake thick ones in a pie dish then slice like a cake. Add salsa, ketchup, guacamole or whatever you prefer with it. Any of this stuff can be spiced or plain to adapt to particular preferences. High fiber increases good gut microbes so get that fruit & veg however you can with as little processing as possible. Best wishes.

  12. Kk says:

    Is it OK to eat ots biscuits and ots chacolets??

  13. Kasia says:

    We took gluten out of my 5 year olds diet and his skin has dramatically changed. His eczema is so much better. We have been changing his diet due to poop issues. He has always been very selective in what he eats and we still feed him a great deal of baby food or toddler food to get fruits and veggies in him. I’ve started purée-ing frozen bananas, strawberries or blue berries and half an avocado and adding ground chia, ground hemp hearts and live culture yogurt. We struggle with him putting weight on and full evacuation. One of the worst things for him that changes his disposition is High fructose Corn Syrup. It’s poison. Autistic people are known to have gut biom issues, we need to feed them to help repair that so they can properly utilize the nutrition we are giving them. Imagine how we would behave if we couldn’t get enough nutrition every day?

  14. Dew says:

    This list strikes me as the diet that would also be part of a mold mycotoxins detoxification plan
    There needs to be better testing developed for determining extent to which exposure to mold mycotoxins through our food supply can affect our bodies and are health

  15. Sherri says:

    Does it make a difference if the dairy is A2 as opposed to A1?

  16. Corinthian solstice says:

    Having autism myself as well as schizophrenia. The Idiocracy in most of you people is just absolutely absurd to go against the facts you know nothing about. This is very well put I read the whole thing twice and I find this to be correct in my opinion. Not all plant-based diets are healthy especially if it’s genetically modified to fit in the liking of our taste… have you seen what sugar and corn syrup does to children, you all need to take a closer look and think..

  17. Keisha says:

    What about soy?

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