Is your kid hungry? You have the simple solution of satisfying his/her hunger with a couple of bread slices spread with his/her favorite chocolate or cheese spread. Weekends are for delicious pasta and baked goods often seem to find a place in each kid’s snack box at least a couple of times a week. In short, our toddlers and young kids are eating lots of gluten-rich food right from younger years of life. I do accept the fact that the term ‘gluten’ was unheard of decades back but now most of us are familiar with it. Celiac disease has occupied a safe place in the list of diseases conquering many kids’ health. Bread is one of the oldest discoveries and we have been eating baked goods since centuries but why is there a sudden surge of interest in gluten-based foods and celiac disease in general? One, it might be due to an increase in awareness about the disease and two, it might be due to the increased consumption of gluten-based foods.
Looking Past the Genes
Gluten is a protein found in common grains such as wheat, rye and barley and celiac disease is an immune reaction in the small intestine to gluten that can lead to serious complications. The problem usually starts during early childhood, individuals with a parent, child or sibling with the disease carry a 1-in-10 chance of developing the disorder and until now, we have been unable to understand why the disease affects only certain people at a risk for it sparing others who are equally at a risk for the health condition. If you or your beloved ones suffer from celiac disease or gluten insensitivity it is better to revise your diet routine with the help of a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com to avoid nutrient deficiencies later in life. There have been various studies trying to analyze why only few people suffer from the disease but the results have always been inconclusive. A new study published in the reputed journal JAMA shows that eating higher than normal levels of gluten during the first five years of life increases the child’s likelihood of developing celiac disease. The research followed more than 6,600 children (all of whom had inherited the risk of the disease) from birth up to 15 years of age at different clinical centers in Finland, Sweden and Untied States. The food consumption pattern of these children was monitored throughout the study and results showed that more than 18% of kids developed autoimmune responses to celiac disease and 7% developed celiac disease both of which peaked at 2-3 years of age. For every one-gram increase in gluten intake (which was only equal to half a slice of bread) at age 2 there was an increase in risk of celiac disease by age 3.
It is indeed true that celiac rates have climbed the ladder-almost by more than 4 times in the United States and in Sweden and Europe too in a similar manner. We might blame the production process of breads, speak ill about the increase in intake of baked goods or simply comment that food products have become more refined enhancing disease risk. Though an increase in gluten-rich foods has often been linked with increase in celiac disease rates we don’t have trials supporting this evidence. But the study above shows that every one-gram increase in gluten intake increases the risk of disease by 20-27%.
Almost 100% people with celiac disease possess one of the two genetic variants of a protein and the chances of getting the disease are almost zero in those who don’t have the gene. Ironically, more than 40% individuals in America, Europe and Southeast Asia contain the gene that increases their risk of celiac disease. Among these people, almost 40% of them manage to stay away from it. It is observed that while Finland is a country dominated by celiac disease cases there are other countries in Europe where wheat consumption is even more. Hence, this study cannot bring us to the conclusion that eating too much gluten increases the risk of celiac disease and there are almost 50% people in many countries who possess a copy of the gene that cause the problem with/without increased gluten intake. All these clearly point one thing clearly-never limit or cut off gluten intake from your kid’s meal as this can lead to serious nutrient losses unnecessarily. But, if you do have a family history of the disease it is always better to stay cautious and keep checking every once a while for any signs of it.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
+91 7846 800 800
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.