The myth that diet can cure ASD may have stemmed from the belief some people hold that autism is linked to certain types of foods—particularly, gluten and casein. These are proteins found in foods such as wheat, barley and oats; and milk, cheese and yogurt, respectively.
Many parents of autistic children have tried eliminating these foods from the autistic child’s diet completely. Anecdotally, many of these parents report a reduction of symptoms using this method.
However, scientific research into the effects of this diet have shown no difference in symptoms between consuming casein or gluten, neither, or both of these substances, when executed in a double-blind experiment. Researches said that it’s possible the diet may help certain subgroups of people with autism, and more research would be necessary to determine whether this was the case.
While this elimination diet does not have negative effects, parents of children on a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet need to be mindful of the nutrients this removes from their child’s diet and be sure to replace them from alternate food sources to support their child’s healthy growth.