Thursday, August 9, 2007

Enzyme Therapy and the Feingold approach

The more I look into enzyme therapy, the more it seems like it could be a viable option. It was hard to come to this conclusion because everything I'd read to this point has been full of technical terms that gave me a headache. But I think I finally get the concept.

There is a theory of autism that says individuals on the spectrum have trouble digesting certain proteins, usually gluten and casein. When they are inadequately digested, certain compounds enter the bloodstream and these can have some 'opioid' effects on the brain (think of morphine). Therapies like casein and gluten free diets strive to remove the problematic substances from the diet. But, these diets cam be expensive and impractical unless the child is living in a bubble.

Enzyme therapy, on the other hand, helps the body tolerate these substances and digest them more completely. The specialized diets may help as well, especially if the child has gastric issues and needs to heal the gut. From what I've read, some people have seen positive effects from enzyme therapy in as little as 3-4 weeks.

One other approach of note is the Feingold approach, which basically advocates the removal of preservatives and artificial substances in foods. At its core it seems to be the equivalent of going organic and all-natural.

I've tossed around that notion for a while now, just because it must be a healthier way to eat, but I always hesitated because of the cost. But I tried something this week. When I did my grocery shopping, I took the time to buy all certified organic and all-natural foods. And I discovered something interesting. I only spent about $10 more than I normally do. How'd that happen? I ended up without all the junk that usually finds its way into the cart! No soda (only for the adults, but not a necessity by any means), no chips, no pre-packaged convenience snacks...So what gets spent in higher costs per item, is easily offset by letting go of stuff that probably shouldn't be eaten anyway.

So I've finally decided where to start my little experiment. First we'll start with getting the gunk out of our bodies, just because it can't hurt, and after I meet with the nutritionist on Monday, we might go the enzyme route for a few weeks. then I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best.

A couple of sites to check out for more information:

And a good read:
Enzymes for Autism and other Neurological Conditions: A Practical Guide by Karen DeFelice.

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