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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

The Gluten and Dairy-Free Diet

Apr 01, 2011 04:46PM ● By Beth Davis

The gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet has become a popular dietary intervention for a host of conditions, and with a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that removing gluten and casein from the diet may be beneficial in autism, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other chronic illnesses, it’s no wonder.

Gluten and casein are food proteins. Gluten is found in grains, particularly wheat, and casein is found in milk and dairy products. Because gluten is known to cause digestive and other health problems in certain people, many otherwise healthy individuals are also going gluten-free because they believe it will improve their overall health.

In 2005, Jennifer Wiese and her family entered the world of gluten/casein free to help her son with autism. Because a gluten/casein free diet does not work for every child with autism, they decided to commit to six months. The changes they saw were very powerful. “Our son had a general awareness of his surroundings,” says Wiese. “He was more engaging, interactive, he was sleeping better and had a better appetite.”

However, navigating the gluten and dairy free world was often overwhelming, disappointing and quite expensive. Wiese grew increasingly discouraged each time she purchased something that was dry and tasteless. So, she and her mother spent the next four years perfecting recipes, creating cookies, cakes and pizza dough that no one could tell were gluten/dairy free. More than a year ago, she opened Bee Free Bakery, offering fresh baked goodies made without the use of gluten and dairy.

Wiese says the benefits of a gluten free diet are many. In fact, some eat gluten free even though they have no medical reason to do so. “People often find themselves feeling more energetic, with no intestinal issues.” And for those with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is the only cure since eating grains that contain gluten causes their immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine. This can lead to malnutrition and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Lindsey Russell, owner of The Paleo Muffin, knows the benefits of gluten and dairy free from experience. As a teen, she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease. Over time, her condition got worse and more aggressive. As an adult, she discovered Elaine Gottschall’s book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, which inspired her to take a holistic approach to wellness.

Following the Specific Carbohydrate DietTM (SCD) outlined in the book, Russell says she has been medication free for three years, and has no symptoms of UC. She explains SCD as a strict dietary regimen to help people with various forms of intestinal disease as well as other ailments such as arthritis and autism.

Inspired by her experience and her love of cooking, Russell launched The Paleo Muffin, based on the SCD. The Paleo Muffin offers specialty muffins that are all natural, gluten-free and grain free, lactose-free, refined sugar free, and unprocessed, but most of all, delicious.

Most importantly, Russell says SCD is “a very healthy, balanced, and safe diet that has health benefits for everyone.”

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