- Did you know that about 3 million Americans have celiac disease?
- Did you know that 230,000 of them are children?
- Did you know that celiac disease has more than 300 known symptoms?
- Did you know that 60% of children diagnosed are asymptomatic?
In addition to those sobering stats, studies show that gluten, a glue-like protein found in many grains, breads, and cereals can negatively affect the brain in those with a genetic predisposition. Typically known as a disease that affects the gut, studies now link gluten intolerance to nervous system issues. And there can often be problems without any discernable gastrointestinal problems. According to Dr. Maios Hadjivassilou in the medical journal The Lancet, “gluten senstitivity can be primarily and at times, exclusively a neurological disease.”
How Does It Work?
Eating gluten can trigger a latent gene to become reactive and disrupt health brain function. In children, these neurological disorders can manifest as chronic headaches, developmental delay, low muscle tone, and learning disorders or ADHD. Some researchers even link gluten (and casein, a protein found in dairy) to disorders on the autism spectrum. It’s an area of robust research.
Bottom line: Given the statistics, if your child suffers from any of these symptoms, even mildly, gluten may be the culprit. While you can certainly test for celiac disease (these can be performed by your family doctor), a simple elimination diet can help you immediately determine whether your child suffers from gluten sensitivity.
Eliminate and Observe
For 14 days, have your child eat no gluten whatsoever. Even a small amount will throw off the test, so try to comply! It may seem daunting at first, but there are several online resources that can help you in this effort (here’s a gluten-free food list: http://www.celiac.com/articles/181/1/Safe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Safe-Ingredients/Page1.html).
Closely observe and journal your child’s behavior, mood, and level of focus during this time. The more you are able to record the better you’ll be able to note whether gluten is affecting her brain function. After 14 days, reintroduce gluten and continue to monitor the results. If there’s a rapid, noticeable difference in any area, that’s a clear indication that your child is dealing with a gluten sensitivity and cutting it out will greatly benefit his long-term health.
Finally, if your family is gluten sensitive, know you are not alone in this. There are numerous gluten-free blogs, support groups, and doctors who specialize in the area, as well as a growing number of gluten-free products coming on the market as this becomes more of a pressing issue for more families. And the effort is worth it. After all, what would you rather have: A plate of white pasta, or a child who is able to focus and maintain a happy mood for days on end? There’s just no comparison.
Celiac Disease Resource Directory – http://cdfresourcedirectory.com/
Gluten-Free Goddess Recipes – http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/