As for grains,
you can use rice, millet, buckwheat, corn, sorghum, amaranth,
and quinoa. You can buy or mix up you own gluten-free flours
for baking, or buy gluten-free products at the health food store.
The Schaer gluten-free pastas are widely available and delicious.
Check celiac cookbooks and websites for recipes and shopping ideas.
As for milk, avoid milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc. Use a dairy-free
margarine. You can replace ice cream with fruit sorbets, soy
ice cream, or homemade fruit juice popsicles.
You will need a source of calcium when not using milk. There
are calcium-enriched milk substitutes made from rice or potato,
or use calcium supplements. Check your health food store.
must we keep the diet?
keep the diet 100%, and you will soon see why. Even one bite
of normal bread or a gluten-containing cookie can send the child
into wailing tantrums or aggressive biting for a week or two.
GFCF diet healthy?
yes! Take care that your child gets adequate calcium via calcium-enriched
milk subsitutes or a calcium supplement. Otherwise, the GFCF
diet provides all the nutrients of a normal diet. Indeed, your
child will be healthier than ever as damaged intestines heal and
the brain functions better.
continue with all normal medications as you begin GFCF. Just
be sure they contain no gluten or milk, and watch out for food
colorings if they pose a problem for your child. After a few
months, you may find it possible to reduce doses of psycho-active
medications, always in consultation with your doctor.
social events and vacations?
school teachers and mothers of your children’s friends about the
special diet. Provide approved snacks, or give them a list of
foods which are permitted. On vacation, we find no trouble getting
plain broiled or sauteed meat and boiled potatoes and vegetables
for the children.
been on the diet for six weeks, and see no improvement yet.
take longer to show improvement. Dr. Reichelt, an expert on the
diet, says it can take up to seven months for gluten and milk
residues to be eliminated from the body. Review your diet, and
make sure you are not getting a hidden source of gluten. Another
problem may be that the child is very sensitive to other foods
in addition to gluten and milk. See the section below on additional
diet be more flexible later on?
find they can be more flexible a year or two down the road. We
now occasionally use yogurt, and the children tolerate reasonable
amounts of goat, sheep, or mare’s milk products. Special enzyme
supplements such as SerenAid (www.klairecom)
or Enzymaid (www.kirkmanlabs.com)
help to digest the gluten and casein, and may help to survive
an occasional diet infraction.
diet been proven to help children with FASD?
The GFCF diet has never been clinically tested for children with
FASD, though it has been proven in clinical trials to help children
with autism and adults with schizophrenia. However, it is still
considered to be controversial, especially as the way it helps
has not been proven . A number of children with FASD are on
this diet, and all have shown improvement. Since the diet is
not dangerous or costly, and does not have the side effects of
psycho-active medications, many parents try the diet first.
Other foods than gluten and milk may also cause behavioral problems
[10-15]. Common culprits are beef, white fish, chicken, eggs,
corn, soy, peanut, beet sugar, food colorings, certain food addivitives,
chocolate. Many children also get red ears, glassy eyes and become
hyperactive in response to fruits containing natural salicylates,
such as apples, grapes, and cucumbers. See the Feingold website
www.feingold.org for advice on food additives (E numbers)
and fruits which contain salicylates.
The best way to identify other problem foods is the elimination/challenge.
Thus for ten days, you follow a very cleaned-up diet of simple
foods that have low risk of intolerance, and then introduce one
new food at a time and observe for reactions. A sample elimination
diet would include only foods listed in the table below. This
is a well-balanced diet as long as you provide a source of calcium,
so, while it may be a bit boring, it is not dangerous to follow
such a diet; in fact you and your child may feel healthier than
ever as you eliminate unsuspected problem foods! Be aware that
after three days or so, you may actually feel ill as your body
eliminates toxins. You may get diarrhea or vomit, urine may be
highly colored, and you may sweat heavily. Drink plenty of pure
water. This de-toxification stage will pass within a day or two.
2. Foods with low risk of allergenicity
vegetables are tolerated)
After ten days on this diet, you may give a test meal of one food,
such as a beef patty, for the first meal of the day. Observe
over the day for reactions, which may occur within a few minutes,
or take some hours to develop. Reactions may be: red ears, red
nose, dark circles under the eyes, fussiness or hyperactivity,
head-banging, bed-wetting, etc. My children, for example, are
fussy on the day after consuming beef or chocolate. Wait until
reactions wear off (one to four days) before introducing another
new food. Never test foods which you know will cause a life-threatening
reaction. Keep a food diary, so that you can begin to associate
food consumed with behavior. See the book by Doris Rapp for advice
on elimination/challenge testing.
Blood tests for food allergies and intolerances have not proven
to be very useful in the identification of problem foods. The
blood tests rely on identification of antibodies in the blood,
but in fact many of the food reactions observed are not antibody
reactions. Thus a food which tests negative in the blood test
may still cause the child to feel ill in some other way. The
elimination/challenge is considered to be the “gold standard”
in the medical literature on food allergy and intolerance [16-18],
but is usually not performed by physicians due to the intensive
FOOD SUPPLEMENTS, and High dose vitamin therapy
Vitamin recommended allowances were set as a minimum daily dose
for normal healthy people, but many of us are not even getting
the minimum. Studies have shown that the diet of many European
children is deficient in consumption of vitamin-rich fruits and
several reasons to take a good hard look at your child's vitamin
status. First of all, due to digestive problems and malabsorption
of nutrients, your child may not derive even a minimum daily allowance
of vitamins from a "normal" healthy diet. Second, many
FASD children are picky about their food and are not eating even
a "normal" healthy diet. Third, stress, illness, sleep
deprivation, and certain medications deplete vitamin stores rapidly.
Finally, for genetic reasons, some people do require more than
the recommended daily allowance of a particular vitamin. High
doses of vitamin B6, for example, have been shown to be frequently
beneficial in mental illness.
of vitamin deficiencies.
signs of vitamin deficiency for many vitamins include feeling
fatigued and depressed. With moderate deficiencies, clinical
signs appear which are more or less specific for each vitamin
or group of vitamins. You can find descriptions of vitamin deficiency
symptoms in many nutrition books or in the Merck Manual, a highly
respected medical reference which is available on-line. http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/home.jsp
My children showed several signs of nutritional deficiency: bright
red tongue and rash around the mouth (vit B3 deficiency), hallucinations
(vit B3), hard pimply spots on outside of upper arms and thighs
(vit A), tingling hands and feet (typical of lack any of the soluble
B vitamins), no dream recall (B6), tics (B6), aphthous ulcers
(irregularly shaped blisters on the gums, typical of general
malnutrition), white spots on the fingernails (zinc), very slow
healing of wounds (zinc), they bruised easily and had frequent
copious nosebleeds (vit K). Blood tests showed them to be seriously
deficient in almost everything, including calcium, though they
ate over a quart of yogurt daily and took a children's multi-vitamin
tablet. They were deficient in vit K, which is normally impossible,
as intestinal bacteria provide vit K in normal healthy people.
In retrospect, I see that their malnutrition was due to the constant
diarrhea resulting from gluten intolerance. The intestinal flora
was certainly also disbalanced, as shown by the serious deficiency
of vit K. Elimination of gluten and milk, and giving at least
recommended daily allowances of all vitamins and minerals has
eliminated signs of deficiency for us.
may be useful for indicating serious deficiencies, but a "normal"
blood level of a given vitamin does not necessarily mean that
the vitamin is provided at adequate levels in the cells where
it is needed and to the enzymes which require it. Thus good observation
and trial and error are more useful.
vitamin therapy . Some people, for genetic reasons, may
require very high doses of certain vitamins. This does not
mean that everybody should take large doses of any or all vitamins;
this is not only unnecessary, but can be dangerous. However,
there are many studies showing that certain people do need
one or another vitamin in high doses to boost the activity of a deficient enzyme. Research has shown that
these enzymes are defective in binding the vitamin co-factor,
but that radically increasing the vitamin concentration in the
body may force the enzyme to bind some of the vitamin and allow
some recovery of enzyme activity.
B6 (Pyridoxine) and the B6-B3-Tryptophan connection. High
dose treatment with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) has been used for
many years in treatment of depression, autism, schizophrenia,
epilepsy, and drug-induced dyskinesias. Vitamin B6 plays a central
role in many of the pathways for the metabolism of tryptophan,
an amino acid derived from protein in the diet. Tryptophan is
the precursor for serotonin and melatonin, and is also used to
make vitamin B3. Our bodies cannot make enough B3, so it is also
an essential vitamin in the diet. In fact, if we eat enough B3,
we can preserve the supply of tryptophan for making serotonin
We have found vitamin B6 effective at stopping tics; I give just
enough to keep tics at bay. Vitamin B6 must always be given with
adequate magnesium and zinc in order to avoid a toxicity reaction
due to mineral depletion. We have recently begun using Depyrrol
Basis, a formulation with the active form of vitamin B6, pyridoxal
phosphate, zinc, and molybdenum. My children each get 450 mg
of the normal pyridoxine form of vitamin B6 per day and two Depyrrol
Basis for an added 120 mg of B6. They also get 500 mg magnesium
per day. www.keac.nl and www.hpu-info.gmxhome.de .
Vitamin B3 has also been used for years in treatment of mental
disturbance caused by dietary deficiency. Some of the causes
of deficiency are inadequate diet or poor absorption due to chronic
diarrhea or alcoholism[25,26]. The classical signs of B3 deficiency
are dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. This vitamin is effective
for many in stopping sensory disturbances such as dyslexia and
auditory or visual hallucinations. Vitamin B3 supplements are
commonly available in three formulations. The first form, niacin
(nicotinic acid), gives a hot flush over the face or the whole
body which lasts for about 15 minutes. When giving niacin, doses
should begin low (say 50 mg) and be gradually increased over a
period of days to the desired dose. The second form, niacinamide
(nicotinamide), does not give a hot flush, but is not effective
for some in treating psychiatric symptoms. A newer form, the
inositol ester, does not result in a hot flush, and is effective
for us. In some cases, high dose niacin therapy has resulted
in jaundice which disappeared upon stopping the niacin. If jaundice
occurs (check yellowing of eyeballs), the niacin should be stopped
until symptoms subside, and then, if necessary, a different form
of vitamin B3 can be tried. High doses of niacin should be taken
only under medical advice.
In my children,
I observed a bumpy dermatitis around the mouth which gave the
skin a dark red color, diarrhea and swollen red tongue, lips,
and anus, terrifying nightmares and hallucinations. We currently
give 1 gram per day of the inositol ester of niacin to eliminate
deficiency symptoms. My younger son hallucinates when he has
a high fever, but this is stopped within a few minutes by 500
mg of niacin.
B vitamins. Some of the other B vitamins, notably B5, have
been observed to help psychiatric symptoms in some cases ,
though we have no experience of them. My children receive a daily
B-50 formulation which also provides 400 mcg of folic acid. Folic
acid is very important for nerve development
A, D, E, and K. These fat-soluble vitamins should not be
taken in high dosage, as they can be toxic in excess. However,
deficiencies may be observed in children with poor intestinal
absorption of fats. A deficiency of vitamin A results in hair
that pulls out easily, in hard white pimples on the upper arm
and thigh, and in slow adaptation of the eyes to the dark. Many
people’s bodies do not process the dietary forms of vit A found
in carrots and green vegetables sufficiently well, and cannot
use the form of vit A ester found in vitamin pills. The best
solution is cod liver oil, which may be swallowed or rubbed onto
the skin . This will also provide vitamin D. Be careful
not to overdose on vitamins A and D; if you use cod liver oil,
then do not take a vitamin pill which also contains A and D.
We use cod liver oil, separate vitamins C and E, and a B complex.
is an anti-oxidant, and a supplement may be taken or rubbed onto
the skin. A deficiency of vit K results in easy bruising and
poor blood coagulation, for example, having frequent copious nosebleeds.
Normally, intestinal flora make vit K, so deficiency does not
occur. If you see signs of deficiency, take supplements of acidophilus,
bifidus, etc. to normalize intestinal bacterial flora. Supplements
of vit K should be taken only under medical advice, as excess
can be dangerous.
C and anti-oxidants. We have found anti-oxidants to be helpful
to general health. My children take 1 gram of vitamin C per day,
and we use lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. We try to include
one serving per day from the cabbage family, as these vegetables
contain highly effective anti-oxidants not found in other foods.
Acetyl-cysteine is useful if the child produces a lot of phlegm
or is subject to bronchitis.
Generally speaking, minerals should not be taken in excess of
the governmentally set standards, as high doses can disrupt the
balance of other minerals in the body or result in toxicity.
I give my children supplements providing 100% of the RDA of calcium,
magnesium, iron, and all trace minerals. Our only exception is
zinc. A deficiency of zinc results in white spots on the fingernails,
reduced or absent senses of taste and smell, and slow wound healing.
For reasons which we do not understand, my children and I require
about 100 mg of zinc per day to allow wound healing, which is
several times the RDA. However, if we do not take this much,
a small cut takes many weeks to heal. High doses of zinc should
be taken only under expert advice, as excess can be dangerous.
We need long-chain
polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-6 and omega-3 families
for the health of the skin, eye, brain and nervous system. Normally
we consume medium-chain fatty acids in our diet, and our bodies
make them longer. Thus the most common omega-6 fatty acid in
our diet, linoleic acid (LA), is found in our common cooking oils.
The most common medium length omega-3 fatty acid is alpha-linolenic
acid (ALA) from green leafy plants, linseed, and other plant sources.
We get the longer omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapenaenoic
acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fatty fish.
Many of us
have inadequate supplies of the necessary long-chain fatty acids.
In our modern diet, we consume far too much of the omega-6 LA
relative to the amount of the omega-3 ALA . Our enzyme systems
tend to work on the omega-6 fatty acids, so that very little of
the ALA is made into DHA which we need. One solution to providing
adequate long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is increase consumption
of fatty fish and take supplements of fish oil (omega-3 fish oil
and/or cod liver oil).
fatty acid GLA is the precursor for prostaglandin E1, which is
involved in mood control. Inadequate amounts of prostaglandin
E1 may contribute to mood disorders. This problem is easily solved
by taking supplements of Evening Primrose Oil or Borage Oil.
We have observed
that deficiency of essential fatty acids causes nervous irritability,
dry skin, and excessive dark ear wax. We give our children cod
liver oil orally, and rub other oils on their backs at bedtime.
They get one large capsule of omega-3 fish oil, two capsules of
evening primrose oil, and one capsule of vit E per day. Omega-3
oils thin the blood, so if nosebleeds increase, we cut down on
these omega-3 fish oil.
DIGESTION AND INTESTINAL HEALTH
more than "just" brain damage. We sometimes forget
that prenatal alcohol exposure has damaged not only our children's
brains, but their intestines, livers, and kidneys as well . Their
ability to digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate toxins
is reduced. They often have digestive disorders such as gastric
reflux, stomach pains, abdominal distention after meals, diarrhea,
steatorrhea (fatty floating stools due to poor absorption of fat
from food), foul-smelling stools, vitamin deficiency due to poor
absorption of nutrients. They may have problems with sucking,
chewing, and swallowing. We have found it worthwhile to make
food easily digestible and to take measures to improve digestion
and boost the "good" bacteria in the intestines.
foods. In cases of malabsorption of nutrients, certain measures
may be taken to improve digestion and avoid gas. Meat should
be well-cooked and minced to ensure adequate digestion. Consumption
of fiber should be minimized to avoid gas formation. White bread
and rice are recommended. We use only cooked foods, which are
easier for the body to digest (think baby food). In order to
avoid gas formation, we do not use beans and onions, but use split
peeled lentils and mung beans from Indian and Asian stores to
make purees and soups which are low in roughage and easy to digest.
We use applesauce and cooked pears and cooked carrots rather than
the raw forms. White rice and basmati are easier for delicate
digestive systems to handle than brown rice (again think of what
you would feed a young baby). We are often told that raw vegetables
and brown rice contain more vitamins, yet if the child's damaged
digestive tract cannot process these foods, he/she will derive
no benefit from them.
evening meal. If possible, eat the biggest meal of the day
at noon, when digestion is at its best, and have a lighter evening
meal. We eat meat and vegetables at noon, and soups and gfcf
bread in the evening. We find the digestive tract handles this
better, we all sleep better and have pleasant dreams.
spices. Ethnic cuisines use many spices in their cooking,
which not only taste good but stimulate the secretion of digestive
enzymes. Ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, etc. improve digestion
by stimulating the action of intestinal and pancreatic enzymes
. For gas, chew a pinch of fennel seeds and swallow, or brew
a cup of tea from a teaspoon of fennel seeds per cup of boiling
water, and let steep for five minutes. For heavy feeling of indigestion,
chew a piece of candied ginger. Check out Indian and Middle Eastern
cookbooks for recipe ideas.
Sugar promotes the growth of yeast in the intestine, which
will cause irritation and further intestinal damage. Signs of
yeast overgrowth in the body are thrush, itchy anus, athlete’s
foot, fungal infections of the nails, yeasty smelling stools,
and vaginal yeast infections in girls. We find it impossible
to live without some sugar, but we keep it to a minimum and use
unrefined cane sugar, which seems to cause us less trouble than
refined beet sugar. Sometimes we take a course of Nystatin to
reduce yeast overload, but usually we try to control yeast by
increasing the “good” intestinal bacteria.
flora [31,32]. “Good” bacteria are now known to be important
for overall health. Many of the "good" bacteria do
not form permanent colonies in the intestine; they need to be
regularly replenished. We use supplements of intestinal flora,
such as acidophilus, bifidus, lactis casei, etc. Naturally fermented
sauerkraut or pickles also contain “good” bacteria.
started (Personal Advice)
If your child needs a GFCF diet, and I think that many children
with FASD do, then I think this is the most important measure
to start. It is cheap, safe, and the results can be both rapid
and amazing. Other nutrients or medications will not override
the need to eliminate gluten and milk from the diet. You will
need the cooperation of all family members, school or day-care
teachers, and neighbors or friends whom your child visits. Even
the youngest children should understand that they are being given
special food to help them feel better. In our family, we all
went GFCF, so that no-one had to feel deprived or different.
Initially, the diet does take extra work and planning, but after
a while cooking this way becomes second nature. Even our 82 year
old Oma has become a whiz at making gluten-free food which accommodates
all our allergies and intolerances!
At the same time that you begin GFCF, consider giving your child
a vitamin and mineral supplement to at least the recommended daily
allowance, give supplements of essential fatty acids and “good”
bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidus. After a few months
on the diet, if you see signs of vitamin deficiencies, then consider
a trial of a few weeks at a higher dose to see if this will help.
After a few months on GFCF, when life begins to stabilize, you
may wish to do the ten day elimination diet to try to identify
other food intolerances. Begin keeping a diary to help you identify
what foods or other exposures (cat fur, chemicals at hairdresser,
swimming pool chlorine, etc.) may set off reactions. For example,
in addition to gluten and cow’s milk, my children must avoid beef,
soy, codfish, pumpkin and winter squash, corn, apples, red grapes,
cherries, food colorings, beet sugar, and chocolate.
Bhalla S, Mahmood S, and Mahmood A, Effect of prenatal exposure
to ethanol on postnatal development of intestinal transport functions
in rats. Eur.J.Nutr. 43: 109-115, 2004.
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ethanol consumption during pregnancy or lactation on intestinal
absorption of folic acid in suckling rats. Life Sci. 73: 2199-2209,
Moore CA, Khoury MJ, and Liu Y, Does light-to-moderate alcohol
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28: 151-156, 2002.
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Singh MM and Kay SR, Wheat gluten as a pathogenic factor in
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C, Grundy J, Fitzgerald C, and Stevenson J, The effects of a double
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preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population
sample of preschool children. Arch.Dis.Child 89: 506-511, 2004.
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Brenner A, A study of the efficacy of the Feingold diet on hyperkinetic
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Eigenmann PA, Do we have suitable in-vitro diagnostic tests for
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intake and intake from dietary supplements in Germany. Eur.J.Clin.Nutr.
56: 539-545, 2002.
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Books and websites
Eastern, and Chinese cookbooks are rich sources of ideas for gluten-free
meals. Visit ethnic markets for split lentils, bean flours, rice
crackers and cookies. Celiac cookbooks and websites also have
recipes and support groups.
or Mixed Approaches to Mental Health (in English)
Treatments for Autism and PDD, by William Shaw, Ph.D.
Weeks to Sobriety: The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism Through
Nutrition, by Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D.
Your Child? Discovering and Treating Unrecognized Allergies in
Children and Adults, by Doris Rapp, M.D.
the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A
Mother's Story of Research and Recovery, by Karyn Seroussi.
My Child Behave? Why Can't She Cope? Why Can't She Learn?,
by Jane Hersey.
with Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Specturm
Disorder, by Jaquelyn McCandless.
on chronic yeast infection by William G. Crook, M.D.
and Mental Illness: An Orthomolecular Approach to Balancing Body
Chemistry, by Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D.
Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See
and Heal the Six Types of ADD, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. One
of his six types runs in alcoholic families, and sounds a lot
Association has information on foods and food additives which
can cause hyperactivity in some children. www.feingold.org/
Research Institute has information sheets on nutritional approaches
to autism, and a fine newsletter. www.autism.com/ari/
Network for Dietary Intervention has information on the gfcf diet
and a worldwide list of support parents to help you get started
with gfcf. www.autismndi.com/
of Dr. Mary Megson, a physician specialized in ADHD, autism, etc.
site www.betterendings.org/ gives information on the nutritional
measures that have helped her daughter who has FASD.
Merck Manual is a respected concise medical reference work. www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/
Section 1, Chapter 1 gives general nutrition information. Section
1, Chapter 3 goes into the details of Vitamin Deficiency, Dependency
[requirements for vitamin mega-doses], and Toxicity. Section
3, Chapter 30 covers celiac disease.
the free public access to scientific research. You can quickly
find articles by keyword, and usually you can view the abstract
of the article by selecting it and then selecting View Abstract.
You often get links to the publisher's website, with free or paid
access to full-length journal articles. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi