Project Body Smart | Gluten-free diets could do more harm than good in children


Gluten-free diets could do more harm than good in children

Gluten-free diets could do more harm than good in children

Gluten-free diets are critical for people who’ve been diagnosed and are living with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which ingesting gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — leads to damage in the small intestine. The only way to manage celiac disease currently is by avoiding dietary intake completely.

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding gluten, one of which is that going gluten-free is a healthier lifestyle. But, for people without celiac disease or gluten intolerance, there is no proven health benefit to avoiding gluten. And, most importantly, placing children on a gluten-free diet without consulting a physician or nutrition expert could be damaging to their health in the long run.

Nutritional guidance is important since avoidance of gluten essentially results in removal of an entire food group from the diet. Cutting gluten can lead to nutritional deficiencies, poor growth, malnutrition, and inadequate intakes of several vitamins and minerals. Gluten-free replacement foods are often higher in fat, sugar, and tend to be very processed. In addition, they are seldom fortified or enriched so children can miss out on a lot of B vitamins, iron, and fiber if the diet isn’t followed properly.

The bottom line is that a gluten-free diet is necessary for some, but it is not always the best option for others. Another way to look at it: a person with a peanut allergy must avoid peanuts at all cost, but that doesn’t make peanuts inappropriate or unhealthy for everyone else.

It is definitely possible to eat a healthy diet without gluten, even if it isn’t necessary. But it shouldn’t be done carelessly or for the misguided reason that it somehow promotes better health.

BONUS READING (second link)

In one of the best examples of how real science works, a researcher who provided key evidence of (non-celiac disease) gluten sensitivity recently changed his stance when his own larger follow-up studies contradicted his earlier conclusions.…/could-a-gluten-free-diet-in-kids-…/…

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