Thursday, February 23, 2012

Getting the Dairy out of the House

Okay, all you cheese lovers.  I know you think I am nuts.  But I am a mom of three and all three of my kids have benefited from this strategy.  And now, 7 years after starting on the road to recovery, I have finally agreed to get all of the dairy out of the house---for everyone---for good.  Yes, that means for myself and my husband too, who would eat mac & cheese and ice cream everyday if he could.

Just getting started on the road to recovery?  In my opinion, this is the number one intervention for a child on the autism spectrum or with ADHD or asthma or allergies.  Above OT, above speech, above behavioral therapy….above it all.  I realize that all kids on the spectrum are different and I am a firm believer that what may work for one child may not work for another.  However, in my many years on this journey, I have yet to meet a family that truly tried this intervention and did not see a positive result.   

So many of our ASD kids have a leaky gut which is allowing the large casein protein to go undigested and possibly pass through the intestine wall and directly enter the bloodstream.  From there, it goes directly to the brain causing behavior issues.  (which is also true for gluten by the way.)  But even if there is no leaky gut, many of our ASD kids have either IgE (true) allergies or more commonly IgG food sensitivities.  The best test for a food sensitivity is a trial and error test.

Dairy takes 10-14 days to leave the system so I recommend doing a trial of three months with no dairy.  No ice cream, no butter, yogurt, cow’s milk, or even any food with milk baked into it.  Check things like hot dogs and deli meats as they often have dried milk as an ingredient. 

So would you like to know my family’s results? 

My oldest and youngest both have IgE (true) allergies to dairy (in addition to other foods), so their benefit is obvious.  Here is the not so obvious.  We removed dairy from my middle daughter’s diet when an ear infection would not clear up.  It had been 2 months with a double ear infection.  We were about to try our FOURTH antibiotic at the recommendation of the pediatrician (with the threat of ear tubes), when I decided to take the dairy out.  The infection was gone within a week.  She was 12 months old.   However, she does not have autism, so at age 2, I decided to let her have dairy again for convenience sake.  And she is such a picky eater that I would have fed her anything!  But that backfired.  She had horrible sensory processing problems and her eating was not getting any better.  At age 5, we did IgG food sensitivity testing on her and she came back extremely sensitive to many foods.  (A sure sign of leaky gut.)  I had no choice.  We took out dairy, gluten, and many other offending foods.  

Here is the good part.  She no longer complained of weekly headaches.  She no longer was so hyper that she ran around our house for an hour after dinner.  She no longer had horrible night terrors which she had suffered from for years.  She no longer complained of tummy aches.  The chronic constipation is gone.  And she understands that she is “allergic” to milk and it will make her feel sick.

And my husband and I?  We feel much better as well.  My husband no longer has a rash on his torso that he has sported for over 20 years.  The dermatologist told him it was simply due to sweating while working out and there is nothing he could do about it.  Guess what Mr. Dermatologist?  It was a food sensitivity!  When my husband accidentally got a smoothie with yogurt on a business trip, the rash was back until the dairy had time to leave his system again.

As for me… menstrual cramps have dramatically decreased in severity.  This is something that I suffered with since my teenage years and by simply removing dairy, I no longer have to live drugged up for a week a month.  I can only guess that the insane amount of hormones in cow’s milk was affecting my own hormones.  And I was buying organic!  

Remember that you can get calcium from leafy greens, fortified cereals, salmon and even chicken.  And there are wonderful milks out there including coconut, almond and hemp milk all of which have a great amount of calcium as well and are delicious!  Or you can take a daily calcium supplement.  Just try to stay away form calcium carbonate as it can cause kidney stones. 

So give it a try.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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