Gluten Free Diet in Children: Benefits and Risks

Gluten Free Diet in Children: Benefits and Risks

gluten-free-diet-in-children-benefits-risks

By Dr Kalpesh PatilPediatrics

Gluten is a general name of the mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains, including barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids such as durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina and einkorn etc.

Gluten is said to help foods maintain body shape and acts as glue that holds food together.

Is Gluten Consumption Healthy or is it not?

Some are gluten intolerant and take a gluten-free diet but it is not for everyone.

Recently gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular; however, putting kids on gluten-free diets even if they don’t have a wheat allergy may carry more risks than benefits.

There is no evidence of the fact that Gluten-free diet is a healthy diet.

Let’s take a look at the following to understand the negative side of the gluten free diet:

  1. Gluten-free packaged foods are often higher in fat and sugar than are products that contain gluten,
  2. Many gluten-free foods are not fortified with vitamins and minerals, and so following a gluten-free diet may lead to nutritional deficiencies. Such diets can be deficient in Fiber, Vitamin B, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Folate and Vitamin D,
  3. Gluten-free diet introduction to your kids does not prevent them from the risk of celiac disease/allergy,
  4. Gluten-free products are also expensive than products that contain gluten,
  5. Gluten-free diets expose the kids to higher levels of toxins such arsenic.

Benefits:

  1. It helps in Celiac Disease (An immune reaction to eating gluten).
  2. Some have suggested that a gluten-free diet may help alleviate the signs of autism in children. Although there are counter findings too on this subject, however, it is said to improve the behaviour, social skills, and learning in children with autism.
  3. Eating gluten-free can also help those with a chronic gastrointestinal disorder called irritable bowel syndrome.

It certainly leads to better health to those who need it; however, due to potential nutritional deficiencies and quality of life issues, it could actually pose more risk than benefit if taken without diagnosis and without a supervision of an expert dietician.

You now must have understood that the gluten free diet has advantages as well as disadvantages.

Keep a vigil on your kid’s intake and do consult a pediatrician and a registered dietician rather than making diet plans for your kids yourself.