Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet and Autism Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence


Bread The gluten-free casein-free diet is a diet which involves avoiding all foodstuffs which contain gluten and casein.

Gluten a protein found in some cereals such as wheat, oats, rye and barley. Casein a protein found in some dairy products such as milk, butter and yoghurt.

Some people believe that autistic people are unable to digest gluten and/or casein properly and that any undigested gluten and casein (in the form of harmful peptides) enter the central nervous system and damage the brain.

The gluten-free, casein-free diet is designed to remove all gluten and/or casein, which is supposed to lead to improvements in areas such as IQ, communication and social skills.

Our Opinion

The theory behind the gluten-free casein-free diet is weak and unproven. And there is limited evidence as to whether GFCF diets are actually effective for individuals with autism.

Reviewers have found the research evidence to be inconclusive. Despite this lack of evidence many people embark on a GFCF diet with high expectations that there will be beneficial effects.

However, these diets can involve significant inconvenience and cost, as well as significant limitations on what the individual can eat.

Because of this, we cannot recommend the use of such diets.

However we do strongly recommend that that further large scale, high quality research is needed.


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29 Jul 2016
Last Review
01 Dec 2013
Next Review
01 Feb 2017