Q&A Section: How does Gluten free casein free diet work and is it effective?

This is the question of the month as featured in Issue Number 7

Q: What is GFCF?

A: GFCF stands for Gluten-Free and Casein-Free

Q: What is gluten?

A: In Living Gluten Free for Dummies by Danna Korn, “Gluten is a mixture of proteins in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats don’t have gluten but may be contaminated, so they’re forbidden on a strict gluten-free diet, too.”

Q: What is casein?

A: Casein is a protein found in milk.

Q: Isn’t wheat good for people? Why should people avoid gluten and casein?

A: According to Danna Korn, “Wheat wasn’t introduced into the human diet until about 10,000 years ago.”  Humans have trouble digesting wheat. She goes on to explain that the problem is acerbated “when we eat wheat and our bodies produce extra amounts of a protein called zonulin.”

Excerpt from Living Gluten-Free for Dummies:

[The lining of the small intestine is basically a solid wall of cells that most materials can’t pass through on their own.  On the lining of the small intestine, zonulin waits for nutrients to come along.  When important vitamins and minerals are present, zonulin tells the passageways in the intestinal wall to open so those nutrients can pass into the bloodstream.  The blood then carries the nutrients to other parts of the body.  When some people eat wheat, they produce too much zonulin and the gates open too wide.  All sorts of stuff gets into the bloodstream, some of which, like toxins, shouldn’t be there.  This increased permeability of the lining of the small intestine, or leaky gut syndrome, can cause lots of different health issues.]

Gluten Free Casein Free Diet

Q: Does a gluten-free diet help eliminate behaviors/symptoms of autism, ADD, depression, PMS, infertility, fatigue, aches and pains?

A: This is a highly debated subject. I am going to use many sources to answer this section and I encourage you to read them all and draw your own conclusions. I believe in providing people with the information, but I will not “force” an opinion on anyone. So here is the info, do what is best for you and your child. On Livestrong.com, Stephanie Chandler writes, “Scientists theorize that the inability to completely break down these proteins produces a peptide that affects the central nervous system and the brain, contributing to the symptoms of autism.”

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/457438-research-studies-on-gluten-free-casein-free-diet/#ixzz2UpgH0b3w

Q: Why and when did people start to correlate diet with behavior?

A: According to http://gfcfdiet.com/ScientificStudiesMedicalAbstracts.htm, “Dr. FC Dohan hypothesized, in 1960s and 70s, that gluten and dairy foods might worsen these behaviors” after working with schizophrenics and children with severe behavioral disorders. It wasn’t until 1981 when laboratory testing was more advanced that Dr. Karl Reichelt, “Director of Clinical Chemistry for the Department of Pediatric Research at the Rikshospitalet (National Hospital) in Oslo, Norway, found and reported abnormal peptides in the urine of schizophrenics and autistics. Peptides are pieces of proteins that are not completely broken down into individual amino acids. Dr. Reichelt has observed that these peptides, which are 4 or 5 or 6 amino acids long, have sequences that match those of opioid peptides (casomorphin and gliadomorphin). The known dietary sources of these opiate peptides are casein (from milk) and gliadin or gluten (from cereal grains). He has since conducted several studies examining this finding, as have several other researchers, including Paul Shattock at the University of Sunderland in England, Dr. Robert Cade at the University of Florida, Gainesville, A. Vojdani at Immunosciences Laboratory, and H. Jyonouchi at the Dept. of Pediatrics/NJ Medical School. The best evidence for this correlation lies in the thousands of case reports of improvement or recovery of children with autism on this diet.”

Q: So now what? How do I even start to do a GFCF diet?

A: Check out these reliable websites:





Q: How long will it take to see results?

A: Of course it depends on the person and it depends on contamination. It is very easy for children especially to eat what a friend is eating, which can contaminate their diet.  Most sources suggest that it take 4-6 months of carefully following the diet to see major behavioral improvements. Also, most sources that I have read state that eliminating just gluten is not effective without eliminating casein at the same time.

Q: Are there summer camps that will understand GFCF?

A: People with celiac disease have to be on GFCF to stay healthy and pain free. There are many camps that provide specialized diets.  Check out this chance to win a free camp scholarship (ages 8-17) at www.Rudisbakery.com and a list of camps at http://www.rudisbakery.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/GFCampsList.pdf.

Q: What books are good on the topic?

A: My top two favorites are Living Gluten-Free for Dummies by Danna Korn http://www.dannakorn.com, and The Gluten-Free Bible by Jax Peters Lowell www.jaxlowell.com. Feel free to share your favorite book on Autism Parenting Magazine’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AutismParentingMagazine or Twitter https://twitter.com/AutismParentMag accounts.


Leslie Burby

Leslie Burby

Leslie Burby is the former Editor-in-Chief of Autism Parenting Magazine and a public speaker on autism related issues. She is the author of three autism related books: Emotional Mastery for Adult's with Autism (2013); Early Signs of Autism in Toddlers, Infants and Babies (2014); and the children's book Grace Figures Out School (2014).

  • Avatar Martin says:

    Interesting introductory overview.

    It is somewhat surprising that the work of Dr Natasha Campbell–McBride is not mentioned, given its widespread use and reported positive effects on especially autism. It’s called GAPS: Gut and Psychology Syndrome ( http://www.gaps.me/ ).

  • Avatar Rajalakshmi says:

    Interesting article . I had the chance to interact with Dr.Michael Gershon, the author of the book – ‘The Second Brain’ , where he describes his discovery of the same cells and chemicals that are present in the brain, being present in the gut , and the significance of this in Autism and gut-related issues. My editorial that was published in the Neurology Journal, that discusses this and more titled “The Third Brain in Autism : Opening The Doors To The Solution In Autism” is available here for those who may want know further about the solution to the gut issues in Autism : http://intenthealing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Neurology-Journal-Editorial-The-Third-Brain-In-Autism.pdf . Thank you .

  • Avatar Molly says:

    There are gluten free oats that can be eaten on a GF/CF diet. People with Celiac Disease do NOT need to avoid casein. My husband has CD and processes dairy products with no difficulty.

    Other than those errors I think this is a decent overview. Would have liked to see information about the claim that modern wheat has been changed to include far more gluten than is natural, which could make any problems even greater.

  • Avatar Amelica Cajou says:

    I am looking for best vitamins in the world to help my son with autism and speech impairment. Do you know of any? Please help.


    • Avatar Genie says:

      My candida cleanse dr in San Diego suggested juiceall gardenall multi vitamin. He’s said its been documented as very effective and it doesn’t contain bad additives. We’re doing a candida cleanse first and then beginning multivitamins.

    • Avatar Brenda Heckman says:

      There is a new supplement that just came onto the market in August of 2015. It was discovered by the scientists at Princeton University. We have been hearing a lot of testimonies about how it is helping autistic children. We are starting our daughter on it. If you would like to try it, it has a money back guarantee. 🙂

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