List of Diets
Well-known nutritional diets:
The Gerson diet is a diet devised by Dr. Max Gerson (1881
Gerson believed that cancer and other degenerative and autoimmune
diseases are caused by chronic malfunctions in cell metabolism,
and that they can be effectively treated by restoring proper
cell functioning through a diet which is high in potassium
and low in sodium. He advised a diet of fresh vegetables and
fruit, with minimum cooking and ideally without animal or
dairy products, fats, or sugars.
The diet is (perhaps not remarkably) similar to the change
in eating patterns recommended by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
Gluten-free, casein-free diet
Many parents of children with autism have reported that a
gluten-free casein-free diet helps their children. According
to the theory, some children are unable to digest the protein
in many cereals (gluten) or in milk (casein) completely.
The molecular structure of the partially undigested proteins,
known as peptides, resemble opiates. It is thought that such
peptides have an effect much like opiates in the brain and
nervous system. From this premise it follows that long term
exposure to these opiate peptides can have many damaging effects
on the developing brain and also affects behavior, just as
any narcotic would.
The opioid peptides involved are identified as casomorphines
from casein, and gluten exorphines and gliadorphin from gluten.
Many parents report that removing casein and gluten from their
child's diet increases eye contact, attention span, and general
mood while decreasing problems like tantrums, stimming and
aggression. Many find that providing a diet free of casein
and gluten aids children in successfully learning daily living
skills like dressing, using the toilet as well as improving
coordination and imaginative play activities. In a small number
of cases, such dietary changes have resulted in dramatic improvements,
enabling the child to attend mainstream educational programs
in a matter of months.
Beginning the diet can be difficult but not impossible. One
of the biggest obstacles parents face is that individuals
needing gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diets often crave
these foods much the same as an addict. In fact, parents often
report withdrawal symptoms when gluten and casein are eliminated
that are similar to addicts experiencing withdrawal from narcotic
Many parents worry about removing wheat and dairy because
these foods are the only ones their child will eat, and because
prevailing attitudes in western culture consider them an essential
staple. However, children who self-limit their foods like
this often show remarkable improvement once a GFCF diet is
underway. Many families have found from experience that their
children's menu options actually increase after the effects
of eating gluten and casein have subsided.
Some people experience immediate improvement although it
may take as long as six months for gluten to clear out of
the system and one month for casein to clear. Advocates of
the diet recommend trying it for at least a year as it can
take this long for some children to show improvement. The
diet affects changes in the body at a cellular level and promotes
healing of the stomach and intestinal lining, both of which
can take time.
Although this diet has been questioned by the medical community,
many doctors and university research centers are advocating
the use of this intervention for autistic children, especially
after seeing results first-hand. Doctors who work with DAN!
(Defeat Autism Now) are supportive of interventions such as
the GFCF diet.
Although food sensitivites have been known about for decades
they are rarely given consideration in diagnosis, therapy
and recovery efforts. The specifics of the GFCF diet were
introduced to the general public through the combined publications
of two women who researched interventions and crusaded for
autism recovery. Information about the GFCF diet has since
spread around the world and has helped thousands of families
cope with this puzzling disorder.
The GFCF diet has been supplemented with a number of new
innovations. These include incorporation of the Feingold diet,
the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, diets with reduced salicylates
and phenols, etc.
There are as yet few studies that prove or disprove the GFCF
diet or other diets, but there is growing acceptance in the
medical community that restrictive diets affect pediatric
and adolescent behavior.
Those suffering from celiac disease and/or dermatitis herpetiformis
are instructed to avoid all forms of gluten, though their
metabolic disorders are different from those with autism.
There are anecdoctal reports of this diet also being beneficial
to sufferers of multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, Tourette's
syndrome, and attention deficit disorder.
The Graham Diet
The Graham Diet was invented around 1829 by Sylvester Graham,
a self proclaimed "Physiological Reformer". It was
based mainly on whole wheat and high fiber, and excluded meat,
butter, and spices all together. He believed that adhering
to the diet would prevent people from having impure thoughts
and in turn would stop masturbation (thought by Graham to
be a catalyst for blindness) among other things. He was a
prolific writer and speaker for his cause which was sternly
opposed to "bad habits" of the body and mind. During
the 1830's the diet had a moderate response from the mostly
puritanical faction of the American public, so much so that
at one point it was strictly implemented on students of Oberlin
College by David Campbell (a disciple of Graham's). During
the period in which it was enforced some rebellious students
took it upon themselves to eat off of campus for nourishment,
and at one point a Professor was fired for refusing to stop
bringing his own spices for use with his meals. It was eventually
renounced by the college in 1841 following a public outcry.
However the Graham cracker invented by its namesake as a staple
for the diet, is one of the only lasting reminders of this