Soy Free Diet

The soy free diet has shown benefit in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Soy is high in phyto-estrogens which have been shown to stimulate the estrogen receptors.  High estrogen receptor stimulation inhibits MAO-A.  Children with an ASD have decreased MAO-A activity and so by decreasing their estrogen, such as through a soy free diet, this will help prevent further inhibition of their MAO-A.  Unlike gluten and casein that may be added back into the diet in small amounts with children on Respen-A, soy should be avoided even though the child may be on Respen-A.

Casein Free Diet

The casein free diet has shown benefits similar to the gluten free diet in children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Casein is a protein found in dairy products.  It is not a natural protein found in humans. The scientific rationale for the benefits seen from the casein free diet, is due to the hypersensitization of the mast cells that line the intestines causing them to over-react to this foreign protien, casein, when ingested.  The etiology of the hypersensitization of the mast cells is the mitochondrial deficiency caused by MAO-A deficiency, resulting in lactic acid production.  The build-up of lactic acid causes calcium phosphate to be pulled from storage compartments in the body such as the bones.  The phosphate neutralizes the acid, leaving free-unbound calcium in the blood.  The free-unbound calcium goes into the mast cells and excites them, causing them to become hypersensitive.  Normally, mast cells detecting casein in the gut would not react, but because of them being put on red-alert by the calcium, they actually over-react.   This results in an inflammatory response which contributes to digestive absorption problems.  This irritation in the gut results in more serotonin production by the gut.  (Please see the Gluten Free Diet post for the effects of increase serotonin production by the gut in ASD).

 The active ingredient in Respen-A is reserpine, which increases the activity of MAO-A, thus reducing the production of lactic acid.  This reduction in lactic acid production reduces the amout of free calcium influx into the mast cells.  Respen-A also, has an added benefit, reduces calcium by pushing it into the urine and into the bones, which in turn reduces the hypersensitivity of the mast cells.  Consequently, a child using Respen-A, overtime may find that they can tolerate some dairy products in their diet once again.