Well, well, well. I always find it funny how long it takes research to catch up with the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong, I love that research is now validating many things we in the natural health field have been saying for decades, but I also find it humorous. At least they’ll start listening to us now.

A recent study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience reports the effectiveness of a gluten-free, dairy-free diet for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Many children on the autism spectrum have digestive symptoms. I talk about addressing digestive symptoms as an important aspect of treating autism in my book The Road To Perfect Health. (Actually, I talk about addressing digestive symptoms as an important aspect of treating most, if not all, health conditions.)

In the study, those children with digestive and allergy symptoms found the most improvement in symptoms when on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. Parents reported improved digestive symptoms, and increased social behaviors such as language production, eye contact, engagement, attention span, requesting behavior, and social responsiveness. Although some parents reported eliminating one or the other—gluten or dairy—those children who eliminated both for at least six months showed the greatest improvement. 

This supports something I try to convey myself—the gluten-free, dairy-free diet may need to be followed for a number of months before you see major differences, especially in conditions that are not “in the gut.” For ASD specifically, there are many reports of children improving on this diet.

Although the diet can be difficult at first, and it requires a lot of planning and cooking at home, just think about the possible benefits. Find a doctor through the Autism Research Institute, who will be familiar with looking at more than behavioral therapies for children and adults with ASD. Autism spectrum disorder is a complex, multifactorial condition, and gut health plays an important role.