Sara's Diet

Sara’s Diet – exploding the myths

The individualized diets which we prepare for autism spectrum disorder clients are not based on the salicylate content of foods. Websites and materials which state that Sara’s diet is based on removing or reducing the dietary phenols or salicylates are inaccurate. It is also inaccurate to state that Sara’s Diet eliminates all pigments, and that Sara’s Diet is ‘overly restrictive.’ We have found from working with many clients that a phenol or salicylate restricted diet is far more restrictive than the individualized diets which we prepare with the intention of providing all of the known essential nutrients. See: Salicylates

Often the ‘restrictive’ nature of the diets is based on the individuals chosen ‘self-limited’ diet. Other times individuals who come to us are already using a casein free, gluten free diet. Their diets are often lacking in many essential nutrients, such as natural vitamin A, molybdenum, folic acid and dietary B Vitamins. Their diets are often severely restricted in choice, often with only one starch, no vegetables or fruits, and limited intake of essential fatty acids. Their lab tests reveal serious metabolic imbalances, panic values and even starvation.

Soy protein can be as harmful as gluten or casein to an autist in that it causes the conversion of tryptophan to kynurenine – a neurotoxin. We met a boy who had been gluten & casein-free for one month. His mother reported no improvement in behavior. His lab reports showed a marked increase in kynurenic acid one month after initiating the gf-cf diet, his kynurenine level had been normal before removing gluten and casein. The mother had replaced the gf-cf foods with soy protein foods. After one year of gluten and casein free the child still had not improved. Another child had been gf-cf for two years when his mother came to us in desperation. They had tried every therapy imaginable including ABA, but he was still ”horribly autistic”. His lab tests revealed panic values indicating that this child was starving. We were able to recommend a nutrient-rich diet for this child using lutein-free foods.

Based on the research which identifies non-dietary opioids in the autist and our own research we have found that strict gluten free and strict casein free are not always necessary. What is consistently necessary is providing all of the acetylcholine precursors.  In fact those on a strict vegetarian diet benefit from natural vitamin A obtained in dairy fats. Many autists naturally avoid the lutein containing foods. Removing gluten and casein has resulted in remarkable improvements for some of these children, especially when the parents choose to supplement natural vitamin A, avoid yellow corn and soy protein, and the child has all of the acetylcholine precursors in the diet which include inositol (soy oil), arachidonic acid, DMG, and choline.
Other parents, hoping for similar good results with their children, have tried the gf-cf diet with disastrous results. Persistent diarrhea, endless strep and candida infections, and very little behavioral improvements have been consistently reported.

To improve sulphation we have found that removing the dietary pathogen(s) from the diet is the first step.  These pathogens (lutein) result in elevated levels of phagocytosing cells and elevated levels of these cells can result in lowering the levels of the  PST-P enzyme. Providing molybdenum which aids the body in manufacturing sulphating and oxidating enzymes and balancing the intake of whole protein foods (all of which contain sulphur) improves the outcome for the autist. Making sure they have a good source of molybdenum from diet or a supplement especially if they are gluten free. In a typical diet foods containing wheat supply molybdenum.

To improve serotonin metabolism we recommend balanced intake of whole protein foods, adequate folic acid, therapeutic but not excessive intake of vitamin C, adequate but not excessive intake of B-complex vitamins and adequate, not excessive dietary intake of iron. We have seen instances where autists with moderately low levels of iron have been supplemented and follow-up tests reveal iron levels reduced by as much as half after supplementation has occurred. Iron from non-lutein natural food sources include black strap molasses, watermelon and oats.

Copyright Sandra & Max Desorgher © 1999