People ask me what to feed their children and their infants all the time. After all, I did write a book called Feed Your Kids Well. And one of the main things I’ve always said is that grains shouldn’t be the first solid food that your infant tries.
I’ve long hypothesized that the reason we see so much gluten intolerance is because we stuff babies full of grains when their little guts are still just forming. And it appears that my hypothesis may have just been proven true…
Setting the stage for celiac
As part of a recent study, researchers examined the link between gluten consumption during the first five years of life and celiac disease in more than 6,500 genetically at-risk children.
Their criteria for gluten intolerance was either the presence of gluten-triggered autoantibiodies (tissue transglutaminase, or tTG) in two consecutive blood samples, or a confirmed celiac disease diagnosis (by either biopsy or blood test).
I should mention that I perform these blood tests on every new patient of mine—and you can easily ask your doctor to do the same. Biopsy is obviously the more drastic option, but if you’re going to have a colonoscopy anyway, it could be worth consideration.
But back to this study…
Not surprisingly, more than 20 percent of the kids had at least one positive autoantibody test. Meanwhile, 18 percent went on to develop celiac disease autoimmunity—and 7 percent were eventually diagnosed with celiac disease (at a median age of around three years old).
Plus, for every gram-per-day increase in gluten consumption, risk of celiac autoimmunity and celiac disease increased by 30 percent and 50 percent, respectively, by the age of three.
When children were eating more than two grams of gluten daily by age two—that’s what you’ll find in just a single slice of bread—their risk of celiac disease immunity was nearly 50 percent higher. And their risk of celiac disease was 75 percent higher!
A safe and sensible strategy
We’re obviously not talking about small increases in risk here. Yet, researchers are still saying that more data is needed… and they’re stubbornly sticking to the standard recommendation of a diet rich in whole grains, fiber, fruits and vegetables.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I get the fruits and vegetables part. But I’d really like to know why they think it’s even remotely necessary to force-feed our kids grains—regardless of the risks. Because I can assure you that, with a proper diet, people of any age are perfectly capable of meeting their nutritional requirements without bread, pasta, and cereal.
To be clear, I’m not telling you to never feed your little ones grains. I’m merely suggesting that other foods be introduced first… and that foods containing gluten come into the picture more gradually and in smaller amounts.
(In other words, treat it as you would any other potential allergen.)
Naturally, The European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) already suggests limiting the amount of gluten infants consume based on the results of these studies. But of course, here in the U.S., we don’t.
And are you really surprised? The modern wheat crop is one of the driving factors behind our country’s obesity crisis. Big Agribusiness is heavily invested in keeping it that way… and as corporate interests go, so goes American nutritional guidelines.
Step away from the grains… and eat your veggies instead.
P.S. “Gluten free” continues to be one of today’s hottest food trends. And I discussed everything you need to know about gluten in the April 2012 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Your ultimate guide to the ‘gluten free’ craze”). Subscribers have access to all of my past content in the archives. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!
“Early Gluten Intake Tied to Celiac Risk in Predisposed Children.” Medscape Medical News, 08/15/19. (medscape.com/viewarticle/916788)