top of page

Food sensitivities, diet and autism


Much has been heard and read about the benefits of following a gluten-free, casein-free, and soy-free diet (GFCFSF) for children diagnosed not only with autism but also with ADHD, since the opioid effect of gluten and casein consumption at the brain level. Opioids are chemical compounds with tranquilizing and anesthetic effects such as morphine whose receptors are found not only in the brain but also in the gut. (1)


Children diagnosed within the spectrum have inadequate digestion and absorption of gluten and casein proteins. These undigested molecules, travel through the bloodstream, binding to opioid receptors at the brain level and producing a sedative effect, such as morphine. (1)


This would explain a lot of the symptoms that these children manifest as behavior problems, sleep issues, cognitive and communication difficulties, among others. (2)

Now, why do these undigested protein molecules enter the bloodstream, when it is expected that our gut should have a solid and non-permeable structure thus preventing this from happening? The gastrointestinal explanation for this phenomenon is described in many studies as an increase and loss of intestinal permeability causing "channels" through which these molecules are filtered, what it is called: the leaky gut syndrome (3)

Children diagnosed within the spectrum have shown improvements in many areas such as verbal, cognitive, communications and behavior, as well as gastrointestinal improvements after following a gluten, casein and soy free. (4)

Leaky gut syndrome

There are different conditions that are linked with a leaky gut such as




Brain fog

Hormonal imbalances


Sleep problems

Attention issues

Food sensitivities

That is why is very important to rule out food sensitivities to provide with healing and health to the gut.

(1) Van De Sande, M. M., van Buul, V. J., & Brouns, F. J. (2014). Autism and nutrition: the role of the gut–brain axis. Nutrition research reviews, 27(2), 199-214).

(2) Millward, C., Ferriter, M., Calver, S. J., & Connell‐Jones, G. G. (2008). Gluten‐and casein‐free diets for autistic spectrum disorder. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (2).

(3)Ly, V., Bottelier, M., Hoekstra, P. J., Vasquez, A. A., Buitelaar, J. K., & Rommelse, N. N. (2017). Elimination diets’ efficacy and mechanisms in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 26(9), 1067-1079

(4)Adams, J., Audhya, T., Geis, E., Gehn, E., Fimbres, V., Pollard, E., ... & Matthews, J. (2018). Comprehensive nutritional and dietary intervention for autism spectrum disorder—A randomized, controlled 12-month trial. Nutrients, 10(3), 369.

bottom of page