We’ve already discussed elimination diets in relation to the ‘usual (ASD related) suspects’ gluten and casein. Even so there are other potential food ‘hazards’ too that need investigating in case they are relevant to your child.
The first is personal so please bear with me while I tell you a story. You’re probably too young to have experienced this but for a moment I’d ask you to imagine that you are a woman of a certain age – just approaching that potentially tricky time of life when you expect to experience those embarrassing hot flushes – and worse.
What should you do? Follow the road of medication or try a more natural approach first? I choose the latter – trying out the potential benefits of soy. Delicious. So delicious in fact that I soon got hooked, eating more and more regardless of the fact that it is already commonplace in bread, ice-creams, chocolate and many convenience foods too.
Then came the headaches. The severe pounding in my head was often accompanied by nausea but initially I thought it was simply a variation of the migraines I have had since childhood.
But gradually I began to realize that the headaches were being triggered by some of the foods that I had eaten happily all my life – like porridge oats, marmite and even yoghurt. Strange! How could I suddenly be intolerant of so many different things – so much so that even the tiniest amount gave me an almost immediate headache?
During allergy tests I was asked if anything had changed in my diet – and the lightbulb flashed. Even so a long period of dieting followed; cutting out all soy products and all my known foods triggers. Now happily, as long as I steer clear of soy, I can eat anything and everything else without a problem.
So what of soy? Is it really good for us or should it, as a growing number of people believe, carry a health warning?
Certainly by the early 1990s concern about the effects of soy-based baby formulas had escalated because of the possibility that soy might disrupt the hormones of infants – who are especially susceptible because of their immature immune systems. Those concerns have been translated into action by some countries who have banned the use of soy infant formula unless there is no alternative.
Amongst the many other reasons to avoid soy we find:
1) It can give rise to digestive problems and other problems because it contains:
- enzyme inhibitors that block the enzymes needed for protein digestion.
- compounds that can irritate the digestive tract.
3) Soy also contains lectins that may cause clumping of the red blood cells, which may also cause immunologic reactions.
Nor should we forget that while soy has been around for thousands of years there is a major difference in the way it is used in different parts of the world. Today many countries use the soybean as an inexpensive product, low in carbohydrates and high in protein; eating it raw or cooked. And yet in Asia where it has been used for thousands of years it is always fermented before eating to make it more digestible.
The soy question also links in with Genetically Modified (GM) foods. One clinic which specializes in testing for food sensitivity found a 50 percent increase in soy allergies in 1998 the same year that GM beans came onto the world market. The researchers also noted that one of the soybean proteins most implicated in allergic reactions was far more concentrated in GM soybeans than in other crops.
My conclusion? Regardless of the ongoing debates over soy and GM products wherever possible I would suggest eliminating both soya and GM froods from infants diets and also from those of children with ASD many of whom are far more vulnerable than other children.
For more about the effects of soy see:
Watch out for your free copy of The Food Detectives Guide – coming soon