If, after ingesting food containing gluten, your child exhibits symptoms of a gluten intolerance, it is a good idea to see its doctor and have a panel of tests performed which will confirm or exclude a diagnosis that might spell a gluten free lifestyle from thereon out.

In that case it’s not just “a good idea” it’s a medical necessity that, while impacting your child’s quality of life in some areas, will ensure it will not suffer from the consequences of its illness.

In all other cases, “gluten free” is not a good dietary choice.

Standard Response to All Gluten Question follows:

Gluten is the product of two grass proteins, glutenin and gliadin, who – combined with water – when experiencing shear or pressure form into a mesh that lends springiness to doughs and traps air for leavening.

On its own, it’s utterly, completely, and totally, harmless. It does not lead to weight gain and does not help you lose weight because even in high gluten concentrations it doesn’t comprise more than a trace of the whole. Furthermore, gluten is enriched in the amino acids glutamine and proline, which actually renders it biochemically difficult to digest. Gliadin peptides are resistant to degradation by gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal brush-border membrane proteases, and thus remain in the intestinal lumen after gluten ingestion.

In the ~1%[1] percent of Americans who have a light to severe allergy to gluten it will cause inflammation and malabsorption.

Gluten is vilified by some who just don’t like grains or want you to eat them. Again, there’s nothing wrong with eating grains, like everything else (from bacon to soy, from beef ribs to celery stalks) it’s the amount that can make a difference and hurt you or make you obese.

But the notion that a no-gluten diet is “a good idea” as a general practice is nonsense.

[1] Per a review article about Celiac in the New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10….

For those interested in the genetics: Celiac disease doesn’t develop unless a person has alleles for HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 proteins. Even so, studies in siblings and identical twins suggest that the contribution of HLA genes to the genetic component of Celiac disease is <50%, meaning that these genes are necessary, but not sufficient, to cause symptoms.

Jonas M Luster