We get a lot of questions from moms about introducing rice cereal and when is the best time time to do that. Also about should they not introduce gluten into infants diet because they are afraid it may cause digestive problems such as Celiac disease or a predispose them to ADHD or even autism.
The big health craze right now is gluten-free, sugar-free, or additive free. In a lot of cases, all THREE!!
Common sense alone tells you a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables is the better diet. We all know we as Americans consume waaaaay too much sugar and have even started substituting sugar with substitutes such as splenda, equal, sweet and low, and stevia to satisfy our sweet tooth. (I’m raising my hand…I’m guilty!) We know not all additives are healthy but some help us tremendously such as substances prolong shelf life, stop fats and oils from turning rancid, and prevent discoloration and changes in texture, or those that enrich and fortify food with extra vitamins.
We also know that some color additives may cause adverse affects on some children.
What about organic foods? Yes, this may be a healthier option if it is affordable to you. We know that pesticide residues can affect health over the lifetime. Also studies show decreased antibiotic resistance that do not use antibiotics in their meats. The AAP found no individual health benefit from purchasing organic milk, but emphasizes that all milk should be pasteurized to reduce the risk of bacterial infections. Raw milk increases the risk of serious infection with bacteria including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella.
So, on to gluten……should we avoid it?
A recent article published in Pediatrics reports that timing of gluten introduction into an infant’s diet does not appear to influence a child’s subsequent risk of developing celiac Disease. In celiac disease, gluten triggers a damaging immune response to the small intestines. With recent trends in gluten-free diets or restricted diets it is important to remember that restricting diets in children are associated with risks. Removing gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, eliminates important nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, fiber, folate, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. The deficiency of these important vitamins and nutrients can lead to anemia, low blood calcium levels, insufficient growth and poor bone health.
We do not recommend restricting gluten from diet without testing and confirmation of Celiac Disease. If a parent suspects that their child has a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease we now have the ability to accurately detect this with a simple genetic blood test. The previous testing we did to check this was not as accurate and could give a false negative. The ALCAT test, is a blood test that can detect allergies to foods and preservatives as well as celiac disease. We foresee this becoming a standard of testing for allergies in the near future. If this is something you think might benefit your child, please call the office for further details.