Top 5 Foods to avoid giving a child with autism

lead image

We've also included some foods which are better for your child with autism.

In children with autism, gastrointestinal issues like constipation and diarrhoea are very common. However, did you know that aside from these physical symptoms, toxins accumulating in the gut and bacterial growth could also affect the brain? That means that a change in diet may help improve symptoms. So, which foods should be avoided if you have a child with autism? Here are the top five foods to avoid for autism in children. 

Top 5 foods to avoid for autism in children

1. Casein-rich food

Why is this among the foods to avoid for autism?

According to Autism Speaks, people with autism digest casein differently to those without the condition. That difference results in common symptoms like subpar communication and social skills.

Specifically, casein reacts with our gut acid to form a chemical that causes several issues once it reaches the nervous system – like brain fog, difficulty in focusing and becoming numb to pain. 

According to Amen Clinics , people with autism who eliminated dairy in their diet showed an improvement in symptoms, as “they began talking more, their hyperactivity was reduced, and bowel problems were resolved”.

Food to avoid autism intext cheese Top 5 Foods to avoid giving a child with autism

Cheese may be a popular food, but it’s not for those with autism. | Image Source: Stock Photos

Which casein-rich foods to avoid for autism should I note?

Casein is a common protein which is found in several dairy food and drink products, including: 

  • all types of cheeses
  • yogurt
  • animal milk like cow and goat milk

Still, food is more than just a single ingredient. As much as you should try to limit it, do consult a medical professional on how much casein you should be feeding your child as completely removing food containing casein could lead to nutritional deficiencies like calcium and Vitamin C.

2. Soy-based food

Why is this among the foods to avoid for autism?

Talk About Curing Autism, or TACA, a support group for autism, suggests that soy should be banned in the diets of children with autism as they could be:

  • processed with genetically modifications
  • or be a food allergen.

Parents should read through food labels closely to limit how much soy children with autism eat. While no research studies have solidly confirmed that limiting soy intake reduces autism symptoms, parents who restricted soy, gluten and casein intake have seen symptoms becoming better in their children with autism.

milk alternative 4 Top 5 Foods to avoid giving a child with autism

People with autism should avoid eating or drinking anything containing soy. | Image source: Pixabay

Which soy-based foods to avoid for autism should I note?

Soy beans are used to make a lot of food products in the current market, including:

  • soy sauce
  • edamame (the actual beans)
  • frozen veggie patties 
  • soy oil
  • tofu
  • guar gum or bulking agents, which are unseen sources of soy.

3. Food containing gluten

Why is this among the foods to avoid for autism?

Gluten is a protein combined from other proteins. It can spark inflammatory processes when eaten, and the human body also responds to gluten by making antibodies specifically targeting it which can inflame the brain.

Gluten is especially damaging to the cerebellum of the brain. Imaging studies from Amen Clinics show that people with autism have reduced cerebellum function in their brains, which is often worsened by gluten.

Which gluten-rich foods to avoid for autism should I note?

Gluten, the infamous protein responsible for coeliac disease and other allergies, can be found in more than just wheat. In particular, the following ingredients all contain gluten:

  • rye
  • barley
  • wheat

TACA advises parents to closely read food labels in order to limit their child eating too much gluten. In addition, TACA also suggests that parents skip millet and oats altogether. Both ingredients are processed near gluten-based products, and can risk becoming contaminated.

However, as always, do consult a nutritionist or doctor before implementing changes as gluten also holds other important nutrients. Removing gluten altogether may lead to other nutritional problems.

4. Food with, or sparking the growth of, yeast

Why is this among the foods to avoid for autism?

Food that can cause yeast to grow, or contain yeast, may trigger the spread of harmful bacteria in the gut. One of the triggers in many foods containing yeast, is sugar. There are a variety of reasons why sugar isn’t good, as it:

  • increases the chances of inflammation
  • heightens irregular brain cell firing 
  • can cause addiction.

Instead, Amen Clinics advises parents to replace sugar with lean protein. This substitution can “dramatically improve concentration and judgment, and decrease impulsiveness”.

Vaginal odors yeast Top 5 Foods to avoid giving a child with autism

Bread contains yeast and is one of the foods to avoid with autism. | Image Source: Stock Photo

Which yeast-rich foods to avoid for autism should I note?

These foods should be limited in the diet if they can’t be fully banned. Foods which parents should be cautious of feeding their children include:

  • sugar – both refined and natural ones in fruits, like grapes or plums 
  • bread
  • vinegar
  • aged meat
  • cheese 
  • refined carbohydrates
  • potatoes
  • gluten free-grains

5. Synthetic ingredients 

jellybeans Top 5 Foods to avoid giving a child with autism

Why is this among the foods to avoid for autism?

We know limiting foods with artificial additives and preservatives is best for all children. But this is even more so the case with children with autism. In particular, foods with artificial dyes and colourings should be avoided. 

Which additive-containing foods to avoid for autism should I note?

Many of our foods in this day and age are processed with other chemicals and so it becomes difficult to avoid them. Parents should restrict food products that contain artificial chemicals (really, “toxins”), like junk food and sweet beverages. In particular, the “toxins” we are referring to are:

  • additives
  • preservatives to make food last longer
  • MSG
  • pesticides or residue from pesticides
  • artificial colors like tartrazine
  • artificial flavors
  • and artificial sweeteners.

What should I feed my child with autism instead?

Because children with autism commonly experience gut inflammation, you want to avoid foods that can trigger or aggravate this.

Jacqueline Sylvestri Banks, a certified holistic health counselor, recommends parents to feed their children with autism: 

  • food which supports anti-inflammatory processes in the gut, which can be found in:

    • omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil – especially fatty fish like salmon

    • flax seeds

    • walnuts 

  • Pro and pre-biotics. These fermented foods can not only help decrease inflammation in the gut, but also lead to the expansion of good gut bacteria. They can be found in foods like:
    • non-dairy yogurt
    • fermented cod liver oil
    • cultured vegetables, such as raw sauerkraut and kimchi.
  • There are also  pre-biotic foods which contain healthy soluble fibre, such as:
    • Bananas
    • Asparagus
    • Beans and legumes
    • garlic
    • leeks
    • onions 
    • peas
  • foods containing butyric acid, which aids in maintaining a healthy gut. It’s mainly found in butter. Butter from organically reared cows who roam green pastures often have larger amounts compared to those reared in industrial manners.

References: Web MD, Amenclinics, Livestrong, Fox News 

Also Read:

5 early signs of autism in toddlers

Autistic or Autism? Doesn’t matter. It’s your attitude that counts

Does my child have autism?

10 things autism parents wish you knew