Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free products’

I don’t even know why, but I have been hearing more and more about gluten-free diets. I had thought it was only for people with celiac disease, but it seems that a non-gluten diet is actually catching on with health-conscious people. Oddly enough, people with  celiac disease —the people who genuinely need gluten-free food—seem to have little to do with the current boom in gluten-free products. The question is why?

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself when triggered by gluten, a portion of the protein present in grains. This attack by the immune system on the intestines causes damage which leads to malabsorption of nutrients, many gastrointestinal problems, and possibly many other symptoms that may be associated with other diseases.

The Low-Down on Gluten-Free
According to Children’s Hospital Boston Pediatric, “A recent survey reports that 15 to 25 percent of consumers are looking for gluten-free choices when they shop for food. The same survey reveals that only 1 percent of those shoppers actually have celiac disease—a permanent sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some contaminated oats.”

Anecdotally, stories are being shared online of children and adults who have credited a gluten-free diet for improvements in everything from infertility and ADHD to helping clear up severe acne or depression.

Alan Leichtner, MD, senior associate in medicine in Children’s Hospital Boston’s Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, is quick to refute these tenuous connections, worrying that the public’s fascination with “going gluten-free” could lead to inappropriate self-diagnosis. “There are no studies showing that the gluten-free diet has an impact on anything other than celiac disease,” he says.

Another misconception is that gluten-free is synonymous with healthy, because many people automatically associate the word “free” with something unhealthy being removed from their diet. For example, many prepackaged foods may be gluten-free, but it doesn’t mean they’re nutritionally complete. Some gluten-free alternatives can be just as high in fat and sugar—or just as lacking in fiber—as their gluten-containing counterparts.

My thoughts? Don’t just be “gluten-free” as a fad – most kids with celiac disease don’t go on a gluten-free diet unless it is medically required. Make sure you are looking at nutrition as a whole for your kids. You should understand your child’s needs and sensitivities. Some children may be only mildly intolerant to gluten or dairy, allowing you to keep it in the house with minimal precautions or to use products produced in the same facility as wheat or dairy items. More sensitive children, and particularly those with celiac disease, may require that you avoid even the smallest traces of gluten, according to Celiac.com. All in all? You should consult your child’s pediatrician for information and support before making a major dietary change. Your child may have specific nutritional needs that require additional care.

Read Full Post »