There are definite risks in taking any health related decisions without your doctor’s advice. This is specially valid for dietary decisions, which are often guided by fads. Run your ideas by a pediatrician before you make any drastic changes in your kid’s diet. However, you should be aware that gluten is dangerous for people who suffer from gluten intolerance, better known as celiac (also spelled coeliac) disease. Anything from severe emotional stress, to a viral infection, pregnancy, or a major surgery could bring on gluten intolerance.
It can hit you at any age: There is no age limit at which you might be detected with celiac disease. Even breast feeding children might develop such intolerance, or when the mother has been diagnosed with it; then dietary modifications are vital. Since the long term consequences are wide ranging, and very dangerous for your overall well-being, learn what steps you need to take to protect yourself, and your loved ones.
A protein found in rye, wheat, and barley — gluten — can cause severe intolerance, or immune reaction, leading to celiac sprue, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, or simply celiac disease, which is the severest form of gluten intolerance. This leads to the inflammation of the small intestine, creating a digestive challenge as the body loses its ability to absorb nutrients in the food. This is caused by the villi, the tiny hair like projections lining the small intestine, being damaged by gluten reaction.
The effects are not just physical; though an autoimmune liver disease, damaged pancreas, and changes in the gut bacteria affect more than the digestive system. The psychiatric and neurological implications are often overlooked.
Zonulin is a protein which regulates the opening and closing of cell gaps to enable nutrients’ entry into the bloodstream. Since gluten activates zonulin, there is the risk of the cell openings not closing early enough, thereby allowing the entry of molecules of substances which stimulate immune reaction, and brain activities. The damage done to the spleen makes you more susceptible to infections as blood purification is hampered.
Further, as gluten prevents the absorption of nutrients like vitamin B, tryptophan, and zinc, it could stymie the release of serotonin, the neurotransmitter which induces sleep, and gives us a sense of well-being.
Children suffering from gluten intolerance could fail to grow, be irritable (prone to tantrums), have learning disabilities linked to an inability to memorize lessons, suffer seizures, or have a diminished muscular control, and hand eye coordination. In case of infants, there could be failure to thrive. They also become susceptible to being afflicted by thyroiditis, Turner syndrome, Down’s syndrome, lymphocytic or collagenous colitis, and Type 1 diabetes, even attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). They could also become lactose intolerant. Adolescents might have the onset of their puberty delayed.
You will recognize celiac disease easily as its symptoms are mostly straightforward. Chronic stomach ache, bloating, headaches, especially migraines of increasing intensity, diarrhea, or constipation, blistering skin disease called dermatitis herpetiformis, anemia caused by iron deficiency, a constant sense of tiredness, especially when it is coupled with unexplained weight loss, anxiety, disorientation, and depression are some of the major pointers.
Add to that, there could be mouth ulcers, damage to tooth enamel, and loss of bone density. Remember, celiac disease which is not managed properly could also lead to an over-sensitive, or over over-excitable nervous system, and/or issues with memory, and Addison’s Disease in adults. Ladies run the risk of miscarriages, and infertility.
It is vital that you understand that any autoimmune disease, including gluten intolerance, can only be managed. There is as yet no proven cure for it. You should be aware that unless gluten intolerance is managed properly, you become susceptible to other autoimmune diseases. Further, mobility could get hampered as joint and muscle pain increase due to it. If you notice any numbness in your arms or legs, consult a doctor immediately to rule out other complications.
Prolonged gluten intolerance could cause cancer in the digestive canal. Therefore, you need proper management to promote intestinal healing. Enlist mother nature’s help by way of dietary choices. Don’t forget to check the ingredients of any ready to eat food you buy. Avoid anything made of suji or maida, especially noodles, pastas, pizzas, patties, samosas, processed foods, and diverse confectionary items like cakes, pastries, doughnuts, bagels, and croissants.
Unfortunately, the three cereals — wheat, rye, and barley — which contain gluten are also the most nutritive, and have a high fiber content. However, don’t be disheartened as many traditional Indian foodstuffs are gluten free, and can be used to make delectable treats, which will make giving your kids gluten free meals and snacks easier. In many households, people haven’t forgotten the use of besan, makka, jowar, bajra, ragi, kuttu (buckwheat), and rajgira (amaranth) which provide you excellent staples.
Don’t forget arrowroot, chia, and tapioca. While these are usually ground into flour before use, rice, chickpeas, and sago can be cooked without grinding into flour. Add flaxseeds to snacks, or even to curries to make them more nutritive.
encompass legumes (children love rajma, chana), greens to provide fiber, generous helpings of tasty veggie preparations including potatoes, fruits to ensure micronutrients, and proteins by way of nuts like peanuts and almonds, dairy products, lentils, eggs, lean meat, soy, and fish. Salads, especially fruit salads, custards, dosas, chillas, murmura, idlis, poha, dhoklas, bhujia, khakra, chaklis, gathhia, khandvi, rice vermicelli, and crunchies made of oats or corn are excellent gluten free snacks for your kids to fill their tummies in between meals.