GFCF Diet and Health

Why Try the GFCF Diet?

More and more families are trying the gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet to help their children with autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), ADHD, allergies, impulsive behaviour and speech difficulties. The GFCF diet can also be used by adults to improve their gastrointestinal problems and other symptoms.

(baby with milk bottle)

Although controversial within the mainstream medical community, some physicians, paediatricians and alternative practitioners are enthusiastic about the potential of the GFCF diet. There is a growing body of testimonials from families who have experienced sometimes profound improvements in the well-being of their children with a strict adherence to the GFCF diet. Other families report no improvements in their children’s symptoms.

The theory behind the GFCF diet is that the digestive systems of some people do not completely break down the gluten and casein proteins and that the incompletely digested proteins leak into the gut and travel in the bloodstream to the brain. The theory is that these have an opiate effect on the brain, resulting in behaviour difficulties and problems with brain function and development.

Anecdotal evidence reports sometimes huge improvements and a dramatic decrease in symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation and reflux), and behavior and speech difficulties with the use of the GFCF diet.

Some individuals who crave foods containing gluten and casein may experience withdrawal-type symptoms when they first start the GFCF diet. These symptoms should disappear after a time and the benefits of the GFCF diet should then become evident.

The length of time it takes before experiencing benefits with the GCF diet seems to vary from a few weeks to a year or more. Many organizations advocating for the GFCF diet in the treatment of autism recommend trying it for 6 months. More information about the GFCF diet is available at the web sites of the Autism Research Institute ( and the Autistic Network for Dietary Intervention (

Wheat (one source of gluten) and dairy products (which contain casein) are major ingredients in the North American diet and the idea of feeding yourself, your child or the whole family without them may seem overwhelming at first. There are many resources, including recipes, available online and in print to help individuals and families who wish to see if they will benefit from the GFCF diet.

Disclaimer: is for informational purposes only and its content is not intended to replace advice, diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. Always seek advice and diagnosis from your doctor or other qualified health provider. If you think you may need emergency medical assistance, call 911 immediately.