Some people believe that many of the symptoms we regard as part of ASDs are actually neurological effects of food intolerances (see "Treatments: GFCF diet").
Whether or not this is true, it does seem, by observation, that certain food intolerances are more common in the autistic population, particularly intolerance to dairy (lactose and/or caseine) and wheat (gluten).
1. Lactose Intolerance
Lactose is a sugar found largely in dairy products. Intolerance to lactose occurs when, for one reason or another, the body produces insufficient lactase enzyme to break it down. Some racial groups (particularly Chinese-Asians) are almost universally lactose intolerant (hence the lack of dairy in much of the mainland Chinese diet). Other people (particularly toddlers) can develop temporary lactose intolerance after a stomach infection. Sometimes, pregnant women become lactose intolerant.
2. Casein Intolerance
Intolerance to caseine, the protein found in dairy products, is perhaps less common than intolerance to lactose sugar and is frequently confused. However, caseine intolerance cannot be relieved by use of lactose-free milk or by taking lactase tablets.
3. Gluten Intolerance or Coeliac Disease
Coeliac disease is the name given to a chronic intolerance for gluten, a protein found particularly in wheat, which gives dough it's "stretchiness" and helps bread retain air. It is possible to have coeliac's disease for many years, with subtle symptoms and not realise, but at it's most severe, it causes intractable diarrhoea, bloating, colicky pains and severe weightloss and dehydration.
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