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Gut Feeling

A prologue

I didn’t know how to start this post, I wrote and re-wrote many different introductions to the subject. It is not exactly an ice breaker. However, it is fascinating, yet highly emotional, and a lot is at stake. So I thought I’d best start instead with two people who had the right words to express their experiences in regard to a very complex situation with clarity while stirring deep feelings, at least in me.

The first one:

“My husband has suffered all his life from this disease, but unlike most he found help for his illness. Like Marilyn he was treated for mental disease and different illnesses for more than 40 years. His weight by this May had gone below 150 pounds. He had bled internally until he was too weak to move around and was vomiting continually, unable to keep food down. As his condition declined, his mental attitude declined as well.

By now, after four months of the diet, my husband has gained 40 pounds and is mentally well enough to drive his car, something he hasn’t been able to do in years. He has been able to do all his own work and requires no help to care for me (I have been in bed for quite some years). I think, if you would use your article on this diet again, it might bring the worth of this diet to some other suffering individual. I thank you for taking the time to read this letter and maybe help others.”

Betty Elder

and the second one:

“We’ve never got ‘back’ the son we hoped for initially; he’ll never be able to make up for all that he lost during his first eight years. But his entire life has been taken up in a new direction. He’s able to learn again. He has learnt to speak. He plays with other children. He’s become toilet trained. He has developed a strong sense of humour and a genuine attachment to us. He means something for us and we mean something for him. We’re connected…
I want as many as possible of the world’s autistic children to have the chance that my son got when he was eight. I also want as many of them to get the chance that he didn’t get when he was two.”

Jorgen Klaveness

Both quotes are actually also quotes in the books I found them in. The first one is an excerpt from a letter to the editor written by Betty Elder and quoted on p. 50 in the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gottschall, B.A., M.Sc [1]. And the second is a quote from the website of Jorgen Klaveness, a Norwegian Lawyer, found on p. 132 in the book Devil in The Milk by Keith Woodford, MD [2].

The first quote concerns the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), while the second is talking about the Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) diet. In the posts that will follow I will talk in detail about these diets, but at its core, the main gist that my web of research has weaved is thus, a broken gut corresponds to pain, both physical and mental. To fix our health and our minds the gut must be healed…through diet.

In my experience the GFCF diet is probably the easiest and quickest way to achieve some relief, however SCD works on healing the gut. The Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS) is an updated version of SCD, and is what my family has been following most closely.

I will be focusing on the research, the basis of the diets, and the food we prepare in the following posts. But before I start, I wanted to share a personal experience too.

At three, my son had not spoken his first word yet, a gross delay by all standards. I remember he would also spin around and shake his head from side to side repeatedly. The shaking of the head was odd and would happen especially often at the checkout of the Whole Foods (WF) supermarket. Through issues of my own, that I will go over at some point, I had to cut gluten out of my diet at around that time. The correlation of food and my state made me think of general food mind state correlations (there are suggested links between allergies in mothers and to some extent fathers and autism in offspring, see Ref [3]: ‘This study supports previous reports that the prevalence of autoimmune disorders is elevated in families of persons diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorders, especially for mothers of children with autism‘). And I realized that the odd shaking of the head especially noticeable at the checkout at WF could be related to the fact that to make shopping easier with my son, we would always give him one of the fire oven pizzas they make at the store (they were tasty). I thought, ‘Could gluten be affecting him too?’. Since we were already stopping it for me, it was easy to stop it for him. He spoke his first word within the next few weeks that followed. In the middle of the night he woke up, and was uncomfortable. Up to that point, when that would happen it was always guesswork to figure out what he wanted. This time he said ‘water’. The shock and relief I felt was amazing. The spinning and head shaking subsided within the next months with further modifications of the diet.

I hadn’t really shared this food related change much. He still had major speech delays (and still has delays, however not nearly as major, and is improving vastly and quickly), however, six months on since the dietary changes he had improved and had some phrases that would help with his education. I was feeling more confident, that the direction we were taking was the right one. About a year and a half after we made the initial step to cut gluten, I was talking to a mom I had just met at a playground, and was telling her that he has some speech delays, but is improving. We commented on how great the special education system is in Massachusetts, and I also decided to share for the first time with a stranger, that also cutting gluten out of his diet had had major positive effects on his development. Immediately, I felt the look of intellectual superiority this mom gave me, I was automatically put in a box. I wanted to say, ‘But wait, I have a Ph.D. in physics, I am a researcher, I can sense when things show patterns and are logical or not’. But, I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t have the full knowledge that can be shared in an elevator pitch style, this being in my experience the only way to combat others’ feelings of intellectual grandeur over their opponents. So I decided to talk more to everyone no matter how stupid some people would think I am and to really dive into my research. The path this led me on is incredible, and I am also so thankful to all the information I received from friends and acquaintances.

What I have found has changed my son’s life, but it has also changed my life, and I want to share this fascinating journey of food, health, and ultimately happiness. Like the Norwegian father, however, I know how time can affect development, and I can only hope that we can fully catch up that of my son’s.

Well, with this story out of the way it’s time to roll up my sleeves, and present the new world I have seen. In what follows I will go over some fascinating research studies as well as some healing foods.

REFERENCES

1. Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Intestinal Health Through Diet, Elaine Gottschal B.A., M.Sc., http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/home/

2. Devil In The Milk, Keith Woodford, Keith Woodford’s blog

3. Parental Autoimmune Diseases Associated With Autism Spectrum Disorders in Offspring, A. Keil et al, Epidemiology. 2010 Nov; 21(6): 805–808.

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