The healthy gut contains both yeast and good bacteria, in balance with each other. Common “good” bacteria, also called beneficial bacteria, are lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium, And don’t panic if you see it on your test, but bacteria like e-coli exist in the normal gut.
Bacteria share space in the intestinal tract with the yeast. There are many strains of yeast that live in the digestive tract including candida, which appears to be the most common. Occasionally, these complex systems get out of balance and overgrowth of bad bugs becomes an issue. This is a problem in many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
The great majority of children with autism who follow this anti-yeast therapy show improvement. Children who can speak always speak better and more. Children under two and a half who can talk a little can be brought back to normal or near normal. Behavior and sleep all improve. Children are calmer and easier to teach.
Where does the gluten free casein free diet fit in? This diet comes from research on schizophrenia, in which these gluten and casein protein fragments were found in the urine of schizophrenic patients. Similar urine profiles were later found in the urine of autistic children.
The role of opioids in autism is as follows. Milk and dairy contain a protein called casein and wheat contains a protein called gluten. Inside of both casein and gluten are structures which are difficult for the body to digest completely. The structures or peptides remaining after digestion of casein and gluten react at certain sites in the brain called opioid receptors.
These sites are so named because these sites are where opiate drugs such as morphine act. The internal chemicals which react at the opioid receptors in the brain are called endorphins. These peptide structures from the diet have several names, one of which is “opioids”.
In experimental studies, opiate drugs such as morphine have been found to bind to brain opioid receptors and this binding leads to decreased glucose (sugar) utilization and decreased metabolic rate. In other words structures which bind to opioid receptors in the brain slow the brain down.
As already noted, the one finding that stands up in the brains of autistic children is that the brain is slowed down (metabolically less active) as shown by decreased blood flow, especially in speech areas.
Presumably these casein and gluten protein fragments also slow the brain down. This has led to the treatment of excluding casein and gluten from the diet of autistic children. There are many commercial products available to support such treatment.