Every time you read an article about gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) these days, it seems to scream “it’s bad!” A recent parody of Whole Foods even had one staffer claiming “Wheat is poison.” But a new study out of Norway is raising questions that the gluten-free army might not like. The study suggests that it may be beneficial to introduce gluten to babies earlier in order to prevent them developing diseases later.
Health reports that the journal Pediatrics recently published the findings of the study in which Norwegian researchers determined that introducing gluten earlier into a baby’s diet before six months may help prevent them from developing Celiac disease later in life. The study of over 100,000 babies found that those who weren’t introduced to gluten until after six months of age were 27 percent more likely to get the disease. Research also indicated that babies who breastfeed exclusively for over one year led to a whopping 49 percent increased risk.
Celiac is a rather common disease affecting 1 in every 133 Americans, in which the body cannot process gluten, leading to terrible stomach pain, constipation, and even death in some cases. This new research may have groundbreaking applications, leading parents to introduce gluten to their children earlier.
It will be interesting to see if this catches on, with the number of people out there riding the gluten-free bandwagon. Not all doctors accept these findings, however. Dr. William Muinos of Miami Children's Hospital told Health, "If you have the genetic makeup for celiac disease and you are introduced to gluten at any time, you are going to get the disease. That's what we have to focus on — the genetic makeup of these patients."