Gluten-free diets are all the health hype right now, much like eco-friendly water bottles and juicing once were.
Going gluten-free may be okay for adults needing particular diets, but isn’t as healthy for the average child.
According to a new article in The Journal of Pediatrics, only children with celiac disease should opt for a gluten-free regimen, otherwise it’s simply an unhealthy choice for any other kid.
“The increasing popularity of the GFD [gluten-free diet] has important implications for children,” wrote Norelle R. Reilly, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Columbia University Medical Center and author of the article.
“Parents sometimes place their children on a GFD in the belief that it relieves symptoms, can prevent CD [celiac disease], or is a healthy alternative without previous testing for CD or consultation with a dietitian.”
The article goes on to debunk myths about gluten, found abundantly in rye, wheat, barley, and many processed foods. One of the key points Reilly enforces is gluten is not toxic.
For children specifically, the risks of cutting the gluten protein outweighs any benefits. The potential for obesity, new-onset insulin resistance, and deficiencies of B vitamins, folate, iron, and other nutrients, are just a few examples highlighted by the article.
A gluten-free diet is useful for children suffering from celiac disease, or wheat allergies. The hereditary autoimmune condition can be treated by excluding gluten from daily diets.
“There is no evidence that processed gluten-free foods are healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts, nor have there been proven health or nutritional benefits of a GFD, except as indicated previously in this commentary,” Reilly continued.
“Yet those who purchase gluten-free foods outside of a GFD and apart from treatment of disease comprise the bulk of gluten-free product consumers.”