Casein (from the Latin word for cheese) is a protein found in milk and dairy products. Four types of casein protein make up about 80% of all proteins in cow’s milk.
Because casein is insoluble in water, in milk it exists as a suspension of micelles. Milk can turn into cheese by adding rennet, a proteolytic enzyme from the stomach of calves that will precipitate the casein protein.
It has been reported that casein can be broken down into casomorphin, a peptide fragment with opioid qualities, which has been suggested to increase the release of histamine. It is also thought that casomorphin is responsible for aggravating the symptoms of autism and because casein and gluten are so similar, many children with autism spectrum disorders are on a casein and gluten-free diet.
Although scientific studies so far have failed to report a statistically significant improvement of autism symptoms of children who are on this diet, thousands of parents cannot be wrong in noticing such improvements.
On food ingredient labels, casein can be listed as milk protein, calcium or sodium -caseinate, while it is often found in energy bars, drinks and processed foods. Since casein is such an excellent binding agent, it is frequently found in dressings, sauces and spreads.
Some milk alternatives are soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Soy milk has a high protein content, while coconut milk has a high fat content.
Coconut milk has been reported to be particularly useful for children on the autism spectrum, since coconut milk is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral and has a positive effect on the gut. Lauric acid, which is present in high concentrations in coconut milk, is converted into monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin is responsible for the anti-microbial actions of coconut milk. Coconut milk is frequently used in a variety of Asian curries.
Learn more about Reverta’s autism supplement (available soon).