Small child

Gluten exposure: truths and myths

Gluten is a term that does not go out of the mouth of many experts around the world. It seems that the researchers split into two camps, one of which maintains that this the protein mixture is health-beneficial and should only be eliminated in people intolerant to gluten, the second group of people is of the opinion (and shows this the entire list of scientific studies) that gluten alone is quite unnecessary, and even dangerous for healthy people, acts like a toxin, which is why its withdrawal is beneficial in so many diseases - thyroid, nervous system, Asperger spectrum changes, etc., it allows you to feel better, getting rid of fatigue and such ailments as flatulence. Without interfering in this dispute, it should be noted that the very introduction of gluten is a real challenge for a parent. Many questions arise - when, how long and what symptoms to look for? Due to the high risk of intolerance, this component should be introduced skilfully and carefully. What should gluten exposure look like?

Exposure to gluten while breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing celiac disease. MYTH

Exposure to gluten while breastfeeding is still indicated, however it is known today that it does not protect against the development of celiac disease - permanent gluten intolerance. There was no association between reducing the risk of celiac disease and breastfeeding (more on this).

This fact is confirmed two studies conducted on children genetically predisposed to celiac disease. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2014 and very quickly revolutionized thinking about exposure to gluten, showing how little we know about the factors determining the development of permanent gluten intolerance - celiac disease. Scientists have shown that neither the time of exposure to gluten nor the administration of gluten with breast milk protects against the development of the disease.

These two studies were conducted independently. One of them was Italian study on a group of 553 infants, observed from birth. Significantly, the children selected for the study were at risk for developing celiac disease (in their family at least one person had celiac disease). One group of children did not receive gluten until 12 months, then began to eat "normal" amounts, the other group received gluten as part of the exposure to gluten in infancy. The children were followed for 10 years. The incidence of celiac disease was the same in both groups.

The second study was conducted by the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology on the group 1000 patients from families at risk of celiac disease. In this study, the procedure was different - children between 4 and 6 months were given the minimum amount of gluten, then after half a year they were given "normal" amount of gluten, while in the second group the children were not exposed to gluten, only after completing 6 months the children received gluten meals. Researchers expected there would be fewer cases of celiac disease in the first group. However, in both groups the incidence turned out to be similar. When comparing the results, we also found that there was no difference between breastfed babies for several months, a year, and those who were not breastfed. The decisive factor was the genetic factor. (more on this subject in English).

However, breastfeeding has other benefits - it protects against the development of allergies, type I diabetes, for example, and mother's milk is best for the baby, so it's worth feeding for these and other reasons.

Adverse reaction to gluten appears immediately - TRUE / MYTH

Adverse reaction to gluten (rash, stool changes, diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, abdominal pain) may appear immediately after administration of gluten, after administration of half a teaspoon, during exposure.

Equally, negative reactions can only occur with an increased amount of gluten in the child's diet. It may also be that the child will eat gluten for many months without experiencing any adverse symptoms, and the disease will manifest itself in kindergarten, at school, during puberty, and even in adulthood.

There is no rule. Celiac disease or gluten allergy can appear at any stage of life.

Subsequent introduction of gluten to the diet in children at risk is beneficial TRUE / MYTH

There are no clear indications in this topic, but many doctors citing the developing immune system recommend that in genetically burdened children (mother, dad, grandmother, grandfather with celiac disease) delay the time of gluten administration, introducing small amounts after the first year of life. In this way, you cannot protect against the disease, but delay the onset of its symptoms.

Gluten-free diet is unhealthy MYTH

A gluten-free diet for celiac patients and people allergic to gluten is a medicine. Gluten is a poison for these people.

So where does the certification that this diet is unhealthy come from?

Simply put, confusing concepts.

Ready-made gluten-free products often have a not very good composition, but most often a person with celiac disease does not eat them every day. Therefore, saying that a gluten-free diet is unhealthy, because packaged products with a long shelf life is unhealthy is a misunderstanding. The same can be said about the gluten diet - if it is based on highly processed products and fast meals - it will also be unhealthy. Relying on highly processed products - whether during a gluten or gluten-free diet - will always be unhealthy.

A gluten-free diet is healthy if it is based on fresh, personally prepared dishes. Naturally gluten-free are seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, milk and basic dairy products, eggs, rice, buckwheat (buckwheat), millet (millet), quinoa, amaranth, tapioca, corn, gluten-free oats. Gluten-free diet, due to the fact that it forces you to read labels carefully, motivates you to learn about the composition of many popular products and often allows you to introduce healthy nutritional changes. According to experts, gluten, or a mixture of proteins, is not necessary for maintaining healthy. If we replace gluten products with valuable gluten-free products, we lose nothing.

The fact that a wise gluten-free diet is healthy is also evidenced by the fact that it is recommended for many diseases and ailments. You have to treat it in the context of medicine, because this is the role it plays most often, it protects against the consequences of consuming gluten in celiac disease or allergies.

We still don't know how to prevent celiac disease. Research is ongoing.