In the 1970s, roughly 1 in 2000 kids had autism. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 1 in 150, which greatly concerns health experts and parents alike. Equally concerning is that the mainstream health community acknowledges no cure for the disorder.
Luckily, open-minded researchers like Dr. Kenneth Bock have been studying alternative treatments. One that’s been showing promise so far is, believe it or not, gluten and dairy-free dieting.
It may seem like quite an unlikely hero. But one mother says the diet switch worked wonders for her son, curing his autism altogether.
Doctors diagnosed Ethan with autism at the age of 6. His mother Tracy Fox says:
The diagnosis came after two years of living far down the rabbit hole, further than I could ever imagine. At that time, Ethan was not sleeping more than 2 hours a day and never in a row. He did not speak at all, and the only time I heard his voice was when he would scream in the middle of the night.
During the hardest time of this journey, I was told by a social worker that I needed to accept that Ethan would need to be institutionalized by the time he was 5, and that he would never go to general education school, have a girlfriend or graduate from high school.
But Tracy was not about to give up hope just yet. Through her extensive research, she stumbled upon Dr. Bock’s work. Among his recommendations for children with autism was a simple tip:
Ditch the dairy and gluten.
Within three days of following that advice, Tracy noticed that her son slept right through the night.
“Ever since then, he never had a problem,” she says. Tracy is now a proud ambassador for autism awareness and this rather peculiar treatment method.
Wait, Back Up. How? Why?
What on earth does diet have to do with autism?
A whole lot, it turns out.
“There’s a major gut-brain connection in autism that I think is under-recognized,” Dr. Bock tells Fox News. On gluten and dairy’s effect on children with autism, he says, “You can take it out of the diet and sometimes you see these kids lose the glaze, they lose the fog, they stop their stimming and sometimes they actually say their first words.”
“It can be actually very profound.”
Dr. Bock isn’t the only expert to hold this view. As WebMD reports, some experts believe children with autism have a high sensitivity to gluten or casein, the protein in dairy. According to this theory, an autistic child’s brain treats those compounds like false opiates, impacting their social, cognitive and speech patterns.
Current science appears to back this theory; researchers have observed elevated levels of peptides in autistic patients. Peptides react with gluten and dairy to produce those opiate-like effects.
Still, researchers aren’t ready to call the gluten-free diet a winner just yet. They still need to figure out why it works for just some kids, for example.
That said, we do know many parents are reporting success after switching their autistic kids to a gluten and dairy-free diet. Many of those reports say effects were noticeable within days.