Is dairy OK for autistic kids? Many people have heard that adding yogurt into an autistic child’s diet can do wonders for their autism symptoms. Yet other people swear that dairy, including homemade yogurt, is an autism aggravator. For this reason, parents of autistic children must search and study in order to understand the issue of diary products and autism. We must educate ourselves first, and then we can learn how homemade yogurt can be used to supplement autism recovery.
Is Dairy OK for Autistic Kids?
One of the first questions people have to address is the conflict behind the mainstream idea that yogurt, or dairy in specific, should be omitted from an autistic child’s diet. This idea hit mainstream as a result of the Gluten Free Casein Free Diet dietary fad. I personally do not recommend the GFCF diet, as it actually caused an increase in the severity of my son’s autism due to the high exposure to yeasts, sugars, and starches that this diet centers on. Instead, I found the answer to autism recovery in the GAPS diet protocol. Read GFCF diet VS. GAPS to learn more about these two diets and why you should choose GAPS over GFCF hands-down.
But the main question to address in this article is the question of dairy. Is dairy okay for autistic kids? Or is it the culprit of so many of the autistic child’s symptoms? The answer is a bit complicated. In my experience, all dairy should be removed for at least 4 weeks at the onset of autism dietary intervention.
Two Reasons to Ditch Dairy…at least for a few weeks
Using diet as a foundation for recovery, you will quickly learn that your child’s body will change every 4-6 weeks as healing occurs.Click here to read more about Autism Recovery Timeline using GAPS diet. For now, though, I will give you two good reasons to just ditch dairy right now and not worry about using yogurt or anything else dairy related for at least a month.
- No dairy or dairy product that you are buying from your grocery store (including high-end health food stores) is high enough quality to be used for autism recovery. Especially in the beginning stages.
- It’s an absolute certainty that the dairy being consumed is not being digested properly. In order to understand this better, let’s take a closer look at casein.
Casein is a milk protein found in all milk and milk products. Many people’s bodies, specifically children with autism, lack the ability to digest these proteins properly. When the proteins do not digest properly, they turn into substances with similar chemical structures to opiates.
Yes, I said opiates. As in morphine and heroin. Have you ever noticed that your autistic child’s behavior makes them appear to be intoxicated with alcohol or drugs? Staring off into space for long periods of time, altered sense of reality, hallucinations, delayed response, inability to coordinate movement and thought, altered speech patterns…doesn’t this all sound familiar?
There has actually been a substantial amount of research done in this area. The result has been the scientific discovery of opiates from gluteomorphins and casomorphins in urine tests of people with schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, post-partum psychosis, epilepsy, Downs syndrome, depression, and autoimmune problems like rheumatoid arthritis.
What this means is that peptides from gluten and casein in the diet are transforming into opiates when the body fails to digest them properly. So, yes, your child is getting high from gluten and casein. Once the opiates are in the blood stream, they get through the blood-brain barrier and actually block areas of the brain preventing normal function. Just like morphine and heroin do. Once again, we arrive back at the place we started with. Digestion must come first. Obviously, gluten and casein must be removed from the diet while the digestive tract heals and symptoms of intoxication clear up.
Yogurt boosts GI function and Builds Immune Support
Our kids can’t recover if they’re getting high on casomorphins, so dairy should be essentially removed from the diet at the onset of recovery. Using the GAPS diet, we can begin to reintroduce two dairy products relatively early in the recovery process that are essentially casein free. Those two products are ghee and home-fermented yogurt. They must be introduced separately to test for reaction. The GAPS diet is very specific about this, and as your child recovers you may find that your child can enjoy dairy products without adverse reactions. Click here to read about How to Start GAPS Diet correctly. But, until you go through the initial stages of the GAPS introductory diet, consider that dairy is not OK for autistic kids.
When we first started, my son could not tolerate anything but ghee and small quantities of homemade yogurt for the first 18 months of his recovery. But he now can eat small quantities of various cheeses in meals without reaction, so the key is to give the body enough time to heal before introducing dairy and then to go very slowly to test for reactions. But you must understand right away that commercially prepared yogurt does not qualify. Commercially prepared yogurt basically means any yogurt made outside of your home. Let me explain.
Homemade Yogurt VS. Store-Bought
Homemade yogurts are not created equal. The issues that we have are as follows:
- milk quality
- probiotic count
- fermentation process
Yogurt must be prepared from fresh, raw milk purchased from a dairy farm whose cows are fully pastured, and that do not receive antibiotics, hormones, grain or GMO supplementation throughout the year. To ensure these qualifications, I suggest contacting the Weston Price Foundation and researching dairy farms in your area. You will still need to be sure the farmers aren’t using GMO supplementation, antibiotics, or hormones, but generally speaking dairy farmers listed through the Weston Price Foundation will follow these guidelines.
When fermented properly, the probiotic count in homemade yogurt far surpasses the probiotic count of commercial varieties. Those plastic containers of yogurt sitting on the shelf in the grocery store are a sad comparison to the probiotic value of home fermented yogurt. Now, the texture and taste may surprise you at first. But if let go of your mainstream expectations you will quickly discover the amazing, healing properties of REAL food.
How to Make Yogurt
Once you have your milk source, making the yogurt is so easy you’ll wonder why you ever thought you couldn’t. Here is my recipe!
- 1 half gallon raw milk
- 1 cup organic, plain whole milk yogurt (I like Wallaby Greek style)
In a large saucepan, heat milk over very low heat until thermometer reaches 110 degrees. This is the temperature that that probiotic bacteria likes to grow! Whisk in your yogurt starter. Pour into a clean 1/2 gallon mason jar and screw on the lid. Place in your oven with the light on and the door closed. No heat is necessary, the heat from the oven light is all that will be needed to ferment your yogurt. Refrigerate after 24 hours.
There are more ways than this to properly make yogurt, its so easy that almost everybody I know has their own favorite method. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.