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Woodstock Animal Rights Movement

A Store For Life

P. O. Box 746
Woodstock, NY 12498 USA


Review of the Evidence that Diet Causes Autism

By Dr. McDougall

Elimination diets in autism spectrum disorders: any wheat amidst the chaff? by George W. Christison published in the April 2006 issue of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics reported their analysis of the scientific studies connecting autism with diet, and concluded, ³The literature currently available suggests that diets eliminating both gluten and casein (rather than either alone) should be studied first and that outcome measures should include assessments of nonverbal cognition.²1 The most popular diets evaluated removed both gluten ‹a protein commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye products ‹and casein, a protein in cow¹s milk. Benefits described by proponents of this kind of dietary treatment are improvements in a wide range of autism symptoms, with better social engagement and verbal skills commonly experienced.

Comment: Diet therapy should be the first treatment recommended by all doctors ‹it is low-cost and side-effect free, and could easily lead to a cure. Besides, what other choices are available ‹certainly, not anything of real value from the pharmaceutical industry. The mechanisms by which diet can cause autism are easily explainable. Diet can produce an excess of opium-like compounds which affect the brain, and an unhealthy diet can damage the intestinal wall increasing its the permeability ‹a ³leaky gut² forms, which allows passage into the blood of neuroactive substances, like the opium-like compounds. Eliminating casein and gluten from the diet reverses these effects.

The easiest step for a family to take would be to stop feeding all dairy products (including skim milk, cheese, yogurt, and anything else derived from cow¹s milk ‹other animal milks are also excluded) and high gluten foods, such as wheat, barley and rye. However, the best chance for success, and my recommendation, would be to start an effective elimination diet immediately.

Only the foods least likely to cause harm are consumed. My December 2002 newsletter article ‹Diet for the Desperate ‹provides guidelines for the most effective elimination diet. Benefits should be expected to begin to be seen in 4 to 7 days; however, I have seen improvements in similar diseases take as long as 4 months. Schizophrenia is a related disease, and a similar dietary approach should be tried with this condition.2

Information on a gluten-free diet can be found in my September 2005 newsletter article: Could It Be Celiac Disease? More reasons to take your child off of all milk products are found in my May 2003 newsletter article: Marketing Milk and Disease.

1) Christison GW, Ivany K. Elimination diets in autism spectrum disorders:  any wheat amidst the chaff? J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2006 Apr;27(2 Suppl):S162-71

2) Reichelt KL, Seim AR, Reichelt WH. Could schizophrenia be reasonably explained by Dohan's hypothesis on genetic interaction with a dietary peptide overload Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1996 Oct;20(7):1083-114.

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The Meat Free Zone (MFZ) campaign is intended to make the MeatFreeZone logo as recognizable a symbol as the "Smoke Free Zone". The idea was originally conceived  when The WARM Store in Woodstock, NY, was in operation throughout the '90's (Woodstock Animal Rights Movement).  The store was truly a meat free zone as it was the first cruelty-free, Vegan, socially conscious animal rights store in the United States.  Now  that  the Vegan and Vegetarian movements have been growing so rapidly, more and more people are showing concern about the food in their diet and their overall  health and nutrition.  Many people are giving up eating fish, chicken, beef, pork (pigs ), dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream) and eggs.  Headlines of Mad Cow disease, E-coli and salmonella are in the news with greater frequency.  Vegan and vegetarian recipe cookbooks are standard now  in all bookstores and many restaurants have added Vegan and Vegetarian options to their menus. We hope you will help us with the Meat Free Zone campaign by putting the signs up in your homes and workplaces and by spreading them to all the vegetarian and vegan restaurants that you know and frequent.  And someday we will have true "meat free zones" in establishments that serve meat.

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