BGBK diet can help overcome the symptoms of not only autism, but also other neurological disorders, allergic conditions and asthma.
Since the BGBC diet was first (and successfully) used in the treatment of autism, more than one decade has passed. Like everyone else, dietary approaches to the treatment of this complex multifactorial syndrome have expanded, complemented by some evolved amendments. In this regard, considerable interest in families with autism is currently manifested in the ketogenic diet, which has gained great popularity among the masses in recent years. The potential ability of the diet to affect the metabolic characteristics of the body attracts the attention of many people who are desperate to improve their health by other tested means, including drugs. This also applies directly to families with severe cases of autism.
The question of choosing an elimination diet for autism in terms of its potential effectiveness is always not easy enough. The decision to abandon the usual available and favorite products, even for the benefit of the health of the child, can (and wants), unfortunately, not every family. And that has its reasons and explanations. For us, however, the question of the comparative evaluation of two diets with autism, the classic BGBK and ketogenic, is of greater interest.
This question was asked in 2017 by a group of scientists from Egypt. In a 6-month study, they first set up an experiment to compare the effects of these nutritional patterns on the main symptoms of autism in relation to the control group. In view of the insufficiently large sample and a number of other shortcomings in the planning of the study, it would be wrong to give any large-scale recommendations on its results. However, the findings look promising and definitely indicate the need for further in-depth research in this direction.
What was the essence of the study?
45 children with ASD diagnosed – 33 boys and 12 girls aged from 3 to 8 years old. The patients were randomly divided equally into 3 groups. The first group was prescribed to follow the ketogenic diet in the form of a modified Atkins (MAD), taking into account the needs of children in growth (less strict than the usual keto diet). The second group received nutrition according to the principles of BGBK diet, and the third group was on a balanced diet and served as a control (for comparison). In all groups, children underwent anthropometric measurements, neurological examinations and established the profile of each participant, according to the CARS scale (autism score in children) and the ATEC scale (autism evaluation), before the introduction of dietary intervention and then 6 months after. (The higher the score, the harder the symptoms of autism.)
The diet of the first group (on modified keto nutrition) consisted of 60% fat, 30% protein and 10% carbohydrate. Carbohydrates were limited to 8-10 g per day, depending on the age and weight of the participants. (Normal keto is based on 80% dietary fat (mainly from long-chain triglycerides, NOT MCT oil), 15% protein and 5% carbohydrates.) Parents of children in this group (15 people) were taught how to cook at home by following the meal plans. developed by nutritionists; count carbohydrates; measure urine ketones at home using test strips; track signs and symptoms of ketosis and hypoglycemia.
The second group of 15 children was prescribed to follow a strict BGBK diet. Parents were explained the principles of the organization of BGBK diet and suggested diet options; ordered to study labels on food and keep a food diary.
The remaining 15 children formed the control group, without dietary restrictions. Before the start of the study, their parents received advice from nutritionists on how to ensure a balanced diet, taking into account only personal eating habits.
(See tables 1 and 2)
Average score for autism symptoms in three groups before and after dietary intervention
Points (the higher, the stronger the manifestation)
(control, without special restrictions)
Starting (the beginning of the study)
CARS – Childhood Autism Rating Scale
Comparative table of improvement in symptoms of autism (%) in three groups according to the results of dietary intervention
(control, without special restrictions in nutrition)
CARS – Childhood Autism Rating Scale
In keto group
One third of the participants "fizzled out", – five of the fifteen children could not qualitatively follow the diet (in the BGBK group, the diets all reached the finish line successfully). The remaining 10 children in the Keto group showed significant improvements in:
- Childhood Autism Scale (CARS)
- The total ATEC scores, as well as the ATEC scores on speech, sociability and cognitive ability.
Although the behavioral problems in this group decreased, they did not constitute statistically significant changes.
In BGBK group
All participants in this group were able to successfully follow their prescribed diet until the end of the experiment and subsequently showed improvements in:
- Childhood Autism Scale (CARS)
- The final performance indicators for ATEC, as well as indicators for behavioral and speech skills.
- They also showed improvements in cognitive abilities, but statistically they were less significant.
In the keto group, the improvements in CARS and ATEC were significantly higher than in the BGBK group.
In the control group, significant changes were not observed by any indicator!
Perhaps the most significant result of the study was the fact of strict adherence to a special diet with autism. Both BGBK and keto-group showed significant improvements compared with the control group (which did not follow a special diet). As can be seen from the tables, the results achieved through keto and BGBK nutrition vary, but on the whole, they once again confirm the effectiveness of elimination diets to relieve symptoms of autism.
Reflections on choosing a diet
From the obtained data of the considered not large and not very long research, we see that the ketogenic diet gave slightly better results than the BGBC diet. And this is understandable. It is well known that the keto-diet can solve specific problems associated with the work of mitochondria, remove neuro-inflammation. And this study once again pointed out that the improved bio-chemistry of the body can alleviate the symptoms of autism. What is great … However, a third of the children in the keto group still dropped out of the experiment. Significant improvements were achieved in the group of BGBK type of food, moreover, all its participants successfully stayed in it until the completion of the research. What does this mean for us? Strict condition for compliance with ketosis may not be possible for all families of children with ASD. It is this fact that often becomes ultimately decisive when choosing one or another direction of dietary intervention. The “best diet” in this case will be the one that, firstly, can create and maintain a family, and with which, secondly, improvements in autism symptoms are observed. For some, it will be “keto-nutrition that has become fashionable”, and for some it will be BGBK or its low-carb modifications – BGBK Paleo Diet or SUD.
As in the case of the BGBC diet, not all children with autism show improvements in keto nutrition. A ketogenic diet can help solve metabolic problems and eliminate neuroinflammation, but it is not without flaws. (Most of the negative effects of keto are outweighed by its merits or can be overcome with time through the same diet.)
This study did not aim to identify the reasons why keto-nutrition showed some advantages. Whether they will continue for a longer time is also an open question. The keto diet excludes gluten, grains, starches, sugar, sweets, including fruit, and other compounds in foods that can irritate the digestive and immune systems, causing neuroinflammation. Thus, improvements in keto nutrition can be associated with the removal of several dietary “stimuli” from the diet, but we cannot accurately identify the “concrete” enemy.
On the experience of my own family, knowing how it is not easy in all aspects to change the traditional style of nutrition abruptly, I consider it appropriate here to remind newcomers with ASD about recommendations for dietary intervention. A more benign version of the diet and lifestyle, – BGBK nutrition model, may be preferable in the beginning. If after the elimination of the most common reaction products of gluten, casein, soy and excess refined carbohydrates from the diet for several months, the desired effect is not observed, then it makes sense to go further in search of the optimal diet for you. The next step is to try the Paleo low-carb diets or the COURT (without starches, grains and refined carbohydrates), and then, if necessary, move to keto. Such a gradual transformation of the diet (the transition from a high carbohydrate style of nutrition to keto, almost completely excluding carbohydrates) can also further help the body more easily adapt to the keto-model of nutrition. Along the way, categories of foods that cause reactions in the body can be established.
In my opinion, the most important in the conducted study is the fact that “both diet groups (Keto and BGBK), with proper dietary organization, showed a significant improvement in ATEC and CARS indicators in comparison with the control group. The best results in the cognitive sphere and interpersonal skills were achieved on keto nutrition. Behavioral symptoms of ASD have improved much more noticeably in the case of BGBC diets. Thus, depending on the parameters studied, a modified keto-diet (Atkins prototype) and a gluten-free and casein-free diet can safely improve autistic manifestations and be recommended for children with ASD. ”
I wish you success!
Irina Baker, MS, PhD (c), BBA, CCL – Certified Fitness Wellness Consultant