Talk to any health practitioner who successfully treats children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including hyperactivity, and you’ll learn that these children ALWAYS have digestive disturbances that contribute to their behavioral problems. Manifested as chronic diarrhea, constipation, bloating or flatulence, these disturbances are usually indicative of widespread food intolerances, which are already present at lower levels in one or both parents at the time of conception. One of the most common food intolerances suffered by children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is casein intolerance. Casein is the protein in milk.
Unfortunately, when most people learn that they or their children suffer from casein intolerance, they are directed toward highly processed, hard-to-digest substitutes. While switching to nut milk and soy margarine may seem to “solve” the problem in the short term, these choices do little to nourish the body and are likely to become the source of new health problems in the near future.
So what’s a person to do? Well, there is the option of making your own fresh nut milk or even rice milk, which is fairly safe for most otherwise healthy adults. But these choices would probably not work for many children with ASD as nuts and/or grains can be as offensive to their digestive tracts as dairy. Under no circumstances do I recommend processed soy-based dairy substitutes. These modern soy foods pose too many health risks, which will have to be described in a future article.
But why reinvent the wheel? As I always tell my clients, turn to the natural foods consumed by ancient cultures over the centuries. Not only do these foods have a track record for safety and health benefits, but they are absolutely delicious too!
Coconut milk and cream are hands-down my favorite choices for milk replacements. Slightly warmed coconut milk mixed with carob powder and a pinch stevia* will give you a luxurious experience like no other. The noble coconut has a myriad of health benefits including anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
While coconut oil can replace butter in cooking, ghee is the best choice for that rich, buttery taste. Ghee is a traditional Indian product made by simmering butter until the cloudy solids (which contain the lactose) separate from the clear liquid and any water content is cooked off. The liquid portion is then skimmed off, strained and stored for use. Both ghee and coconut oil have high smoking points, but ghee infuses your culinary concoctions with unparalleled flavor. In Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is said to stimulate digestion. When made from the butter of grass-fed cows, ghee also contains pre-formed vitamin A and vitamin D, which have been shown improve cognitive function in children with ASD. Since much of India's ghee is diluted with rancid vegetable oils these days, it is imperative to seek out a high-quality product that adheres to traditional methods of production.
Contrary to popular belief, coconut products and ghee do not contain harmful trans fats. So if you already have a child with ASD, choose all-natural coconut products or ghee as your primary dairy alternatives. If you know or suspect you are casein intolerant and you are planning a pregnancy, make the switch now. Your baby will thank you.
*Stevia is a plant-based all natural sweetener that generally does not aggravate ASD.
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