Gluten-Free, Casein-Free or Specific Carbohydrate Diet???

June 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm 10 comments

Recently, Hope wrote with a question regarding the GFCF diet and SCD.

“As of a week ago we (family of 7) have started the GFCF diet. The main reason is because we read that three out of our five children could possibly benefit from the diet. My youngest son has never been diagnosed with Autism but he does have some of the symptoms. My middle son has a mild form of Asperger’s and my daughter suffers from Allergies and Asthma terribly. All the literature I have read says that the GFCF diet could help, so we have made the change. Then I ran across the SCD and realized that everything I am feeding them on the GFCF diet is wrong for the SCD diet. The other problem is that 2 of my children are highly allergic to all nuts so I cannot use any nut flour.

More than anything I want to see progress in my children and am willing to try anything at this point. I want to hear my 6 year old talk, to stop the repetitive behavior and to be more controlled emotionally, but I have no idea what to cook for him for breakfast and lunch, especially since he can not have nuts of any kind. Also, I think he maybe allergic to eggs, so enforces more limitations.

If you can help I would appreciate it so very much. At this point, I am just feeling overwhelmed.


Hope, Thanks for your question!  Which to choose – SCD or GFCF??  Hopefully I can give you some information to consider in making this decision for your family. I have stated in other posts that, although I do think the SCD diet serves its purpose, I do not think it is nutritionally sound, especially as a long-term solution. We did strictly follow the SCD diet for six months and did see some improvements, but, there were also drawbacks. First, I agree with you regarding the nut and egg allergies – this can be a huge problem, and, in a person with an out-of-balance immune system, repeated exposure to a particular food can create an allergy where no allergy previously existed.  After consulting with one of the top allergists in our state, we avoid all foods to which we know we are allergic (either through testing or reaction), and we have placed many foods on a four-day rotation. This means, even though our test results may not show we are allergic, because of the high-probability of allergies with certain foods, we do not the particular foods any more than once every four days.  My understanding for this rationale is because the liver is involved in allergic reactions, and it takes four days for the liver to detoxify a substance; therefore, exposure more-frequently than every four days can trigger an immune reaction. The foods which we place on four-day rotation are those that are the most-common allergy triggers, such as eggs and nuts.  You can search for the top-eight food allergens for more information.  (A side note on nuts – we NEVER eat peanuts or peanut oil. They are notoriously contaminated with fungal toxins and are a health hazard for all people.)

As far as choosing between the SCD and GFCF diet, my PERSONAL OPINION is that the GFCF diet is far more important than the SCD. Check with your doctor first, since I am not a medical doctor and cannot give medical advice. An internet search will reveal many doctors speaking of the importance of the GFCF diet, with the SCD diet having far fewer supporters. (I do not believe that popular approval validates any information, and many times, the popular way is the wrong way. In this case, I am simply suggesting that, among the doctors and health practitioners who are “in the know” regarding GFCF diet and SCD, it seems the GFCF diet has more support behind it. Please do your own research.)

The basic premise of the SCD diet is that the gut of many people demonstrating autistic symptoms (and other health challenges) is populated by an overabundance of “bad” bacteria and yeasts, and the SCD aims to “starve” the bad bacteria, thereby improving symptoms. I do agree with the premise of the diet; however, I think there are better ways to reach the goal of minimizing the bad bacteria in the gut. There are many dietary supplements that I think are more effective than the SCD, such as grapefruit seed extract (GSE), oregano extract, colloidal silver (don’t believe the blue-man stories in the mainstream media), Lauricidin (a derivative of Coconut Oil), and, my personal favorite, a specific garlic formulation called Allimax.  My personal experience is that these products are FAR-SUPERIOR to the SCD at ridding the gut of an overabundance of “bad” bacteria. Many of these also have anti-fungal properties and will work to control yeast as well. I did not see results on stool tests from the SCD. I did see results from using the supplements I listed. Additionally, you avoid the problems of the SCD, specifically the reliance on nuts and the over-consumpton of protein in the SCD. As a reminder, whenever you take products to kill the “bad” bacteria, “good” bacteria will also be killed, so it is important to take probiotic supplements. (Probiotics are in my top-five of nutritional supplements I believe are necessary for maintaining optimal health.)

So, my bottom-line on the SCD is this: I think it can be helpful for short periods of time, as I believe the premise on which it was established is sound. However, I do think the same goal can be reached through other therapies which do not pose the same problems as presented by the SCD. As I have written in a couple of other comments, I wrote my initial posts on the SCD when we were on the SCD and was impressed at the time with the written materials on the diet. After additional learning, however, I do think there are more-sophisticated and better ways to accomplish the goal of establishing healthy gut flora. Do I think it is important to reduce the amount of carbohydrates (breads, pasta, crackers, sweets, etc.) consumed? Yes, however, not to dangerously low levels, and keep the whole-grain, gluten-free grains such as short-grain brown rice, GF oatmeal, buckwheat (not a wheat product), millet, etc. In my family, I make sure a whole grain is consumed with each meal because without it, I find our blood sugar gets low. Balance is the key.

As far as the GFCF diet, I think this is THE foundation for all autism therapies. It grieves me to hear of families spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on behavioral therapies, yet not following a strict GFCF diet. Research the opinions of doctors who are willing to speak the truth, no matter the cost to themselves, such as Dr. Art Krigsman (a GI doc) and others. A well-known autism doctor told me years ago that it takes at least six months for the peptides formed by incomplete breakdown of gluten and casein to be removed from the system, so the GFCF diet can take up to six months before improvements will be seen. Most parents who use it say improvement happens much sooner than that.

Many claim there is “no evidence” for the GFCF diet. Do your own research. Research the opinions of doctors who are not receiving funding from the NIH (National Institute of Health) or any other quasi-governmental agency. Check out the connection between gluten, casein, and the immune system. Look up the connection between cerebral folate receptor antibodies, autism, and down-regulation of the immune system by milk proteins. Also, review the Autism Research Institute’s Parent Rating Guide – PARENTS rate the GFCF diet as one of the most-effective therapies.

Finally, although most general health resources may not take into account food allergies and sensitivities, I do think it is important to look at other health resources for healthy diet suggestions. For example, I have learned much from reading articles written by Joseph Mercola ( and Dr. Nicholas Perricone. I also like Dr. Steven Sinatra’s supplement suggestions (he’s a cardiologist who writes about the connection between mitochondria and the heart), since problems with mitochondria are often present in autism. Anti-aging experts are also helpful. The most important thing to remember is that any dietary choices need to promote overall health and work for the individual. For example, we simply will not follow any diet that requires complete elimination of all carbohydrates or of all fats, since I know we feel terrible on these types of diets.  The more simple you can make it, the better.  We eat organic chicken, Crown-Prince sardines in olive oil (these are real sardines from Morocco, not herring as many “sardines” actually are), Vital Choice sockeye salmon, organic, grass-fed beef, along with plenty of steamed vegetables, brown rice, GF oatmeal, and use olive oil and coconut oil.  I NEVER, ever make a casserole since that is just calling for ingredients we can’t eat, and my family would not eat it if I did.  We use Celtic sea salt only.  After-dinner treats can be simple things like “rice pudding,” which is simply cooked brown rice with stevia, cinnamon, and rice milk added after cooking.  The fact is, when kids get used to eating simple, whole, healthy foods, this is what they will want.  This is all my family has known, and they don’t even want to sit next to anyone who is eating pizza or some food that is “foreign” to them.

And again, please research all these issues for yourself and consult a qualified medical practitioner. I cannot and do not provide any medical advice, nor should any opinions contained on this blog be considered medical advice. I am simply furthering the expression of ideas and dialogue as contemplated by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

I have found that it is my responsibility to protect the health of my family. No one else will accept this job with the same passion, education, and unwavering dedication as I will, nor should they.  I trust my own judgment for myself and my family and accept the words of others (even medical professionals) as OPINION ONLY.  Please do not take my word for any of this.  Read, research, and explore for yourself.  I am a voracious reader and have applied this passion to reading and research regarding health for my family. I truly believe in the natural rights and powers of the individual and hope that the information I have provided serves as some “food for thought,” and further research, and is a help to you on your own personal journey to health and prosperity. I pray the Lord’s abundant blessings would joyously overwhelm you on your path to abundant health.

Deuteronomy 8:1


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Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Resources

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lynne  |  July 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Wow! Very well written, thought out, and thought-provoking material here. As the grandmother of an (undiagnosed as yet) child, I have been researching everything I can find regarding autism, Asperger’s, and diet/and/or other (preferably non-drug treatment) options. He has already been diagnosed with wheat, oat, and sesame allergies, as well as environmental allergies. He is on a gluten-free, oat-free and sesame-free diet and has responded well as far as the usual allergic reactions are concerned ( such as black eyes, cold-like symptoms, etc.), but the emotional instability and volatility, along with depression, impulsive- and compulsiveness, and lack of focus, threats to hurt himself and self hatred, among other symptoms remain. Our hearts are breaking for this wonderful child. We are (impatiently) awaiting further testing. We want our beautiful, intelligent, charming boy to be happy and healthy again.

    • 2. acttoday  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Thank you for your comment. I think it is fantastic when grandparents like you work so hard to help their grandchildren!

      If it were my son or grandson, I would also eliminate milk from his diet. Please see my prior posts on milk and wheat and their proteins – casein and gluten. Also, please see this concise, helpful article from Great Plains Laboratory.

      Allergy testing is good, but the most-reliable allergy test is elimination. One doctor I interviewed years ago informed me that it can take up to one year to rid the body of circulating gluten and casein, so please be patient. I do think you will notice an improvement much sooner. Milk is not a healthy food for anyone, especially not for someone with a sensitive immune system.

      Please consult with a doctor who is qualified in this area. I am not a doctor and do not provide medical advice. (I must share, however, that most doctors have absolutely no clue about food allergies and sensitivities or the effects of gluten and casein on the brain.)

      Another very helpful book is “Brain Allergies.” Here is a link:

      I pray for abundant blessings for you and your family!

  • 3. A. W.  |  October 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    We began GFCF two years ago and saw flareups with our ASD son, and saw flareups every now and then. A year later, we began SCD for son with Crohn’s, and during weeks we all ate SCD, there were no flareups with my ASD son. We praise God for finding both diets. We have since then eliminated dairy which seems to help with third sons ADD-like symptoms and his frustration, annoyance, and anger levels. Kids numbers four and five have shown excellent health so far but it has just been easier for us to do GFCF and SCD. I am on a library computer with limited time and wanted to say I appreciate your post. One problem is people who think we are malnourishing our children… but they seem to let off once they see good results. Our biggest problem is lack of tangible, real-world community support in our neck of the woods. I can’t seem to locate a doctor who will work with us so far in Memphis or Jackson TN… but God has been faithful in bringing us this far without a doctor’s help. It would be nice to have a doctor’s support as one of our children has a non-custodial birth mother talks as if he is normal and the diet is unnecessary…

    • 4. acttoday  |  January 13, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Please forgive my late approval and reply to your comment! I’m slowly getting back to life after a move to another city and many other changes! Thank you for your comment, and I’ll provide a longer response in a few days. Work and family obligations have me tied up right now!
      Blessings and all the best to you and your family!

  • 5.  |  February 25, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Your method of explaining all in this piece of
    writing is actually pleasant, every one be able to simply know it, Thanks a lot.

    • 6. acttoday  |  March 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      Thanks for your kind words! I hope you’ll check back soon for updates!

  • 7. randy  |  March 31, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    I am not going to write a book but want to comment on the authors comments regarding the SCD vs The GFCF diets. Our son now 9 has benifited from both. First when he was 2 1/2 we put him of the GFCF diet. It did help him..After a battery of test from our DAN doctor MD Woeller we then used virtually all of the anti fungals, herbs and biomedical treatments that have been described by the Author. We also did other therapies. By age 3- 3 1/2 Our son was stuck and even regressing. Our Dan doctor had told us from the earlier test he had leaky gut syndrom. More test a few different therapies tried and continued regression. Barely verbal with intensive therapy our Autistic son we were desperate so we started the SCD diet. Here is the amazing thing……… Remember he was taking all of the antifugals and treatments. Immediately on the Intro diet for the SCD he had enormous bacterial dye offs. They were quickly killed with in a few days to 2 weeks time. His language immediately increased and stimming decreased. His bowel movements got much better. The anti bacterials were not enough but the SCD diet was. It is a difficult diet to do and understand but well worth it….At 5 years of age because of a very difficult traveling schedule we start the GFCF diet again. We also did another very contraversial therapy. Imediate improvement after the therapy but we are not sure it was the reason because of the diet change. From age 6-8 we were scd with many infractions. My thoughts were his gut was healed and the SCD had done it`s trick then from 8 yrs to 8.8 yrs increased stimming and loss of focus. Started the SCD again. Immediate dye off`s and immediate 90 percent decrease in stimming. I now believe that what Elaine says in her book is true. When you find a diet that cures the syptoms you would have to be crazy to change it.. It will be harder now but I hope we can convince him to stay SCD.

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Autism-Changing Tomorrow (ACT) blog is maintained to provide a place where ideas and thoughts relating to autism and treatments for autism may be exchanged. The information on Autism-Changing Tomorrow is of a general nature and is provided with the understanding that ACT or any individuals or entities associated with ACT are not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Any information in the postings, messages, articles, comments, and publications in or on the ACT blog must not be considered medical advice or recommendations and such information should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board certified physician to address individual medical needs.

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