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Gluten-Free Diets Might Cause More Harm Than Good in Healthy Kids

May 17, 2016 08:49 AM EDT
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Gluten-free diets are a must for kids suffering from celiac disease, but some parents are shifting to gluten-free diets for their children just because it is a popular choice or they believe that it is a healthier option.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects one percent of the adult population. People suffering from celiac disease can't eat gluten because it will prompt the body to mount an immune response attacking the small intestines. However, it is not yet established if gluten can also cause any intestinal problems in children.

To clear out things, Dr. Norelle Reilly, assistant professor of Pediatrics and director of Columbia University Medical Center's Pediatric Celiac Disease, published a commentary in The Journal Pediatrics debunking some common misconceptions about gluten-free diet and warning parents that removing gluten in healthy kid's diet might cause more harm than benefits.

According to the commentary, gluten-free diet has no proven health benefits to people who don't have celiac disease or wheat allergy. In addition, reducing gluten in the diet without proper nutritional guidance can result to nutritional deficiencies and increase in fat and calorie intake.

"Gluten-free diets are appropriate for some individuals but certainly not for all," Dr. Reilly told CBS News.

"Guidance from an experienced physician or dietitian can really go a long way to sort through the abundance of information available regarding this diet." added Dr. Reilly in the same post.

Reilly explained that gluten-free packaged foods are most likely to contain greater density of fat and sugar than their gluten-containing counterparts. Also, may gluten-free products lacks nutrient fortification leading to deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron

Gluten-free diet can also obscure medical diagnosis for celiac disease because patients are required to eat gluten to be tested.

In addition to its health implications, gluten-free diets can also affect the social life of kids and financial stability of the parents.

According to Tech Times, kids with gluten-free diet tend to feel as an outsider when amongst their friend who are eating gluten. Gluten-free products are also expensive making it impractical for parents to shift without any reason.

Dr. Reilly noted that it is still best to consult first to a professional before making any unnecessary change in diets.

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