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Should my baby be gluten free?

If you've had a close look at any labels on baby food, you would have likely noticed "gluten free". Gluten is a protein found in some grains including wheat, spelt, oats, rye and barley. Some people are sensitive to gluten while others can have full blown Coeliac Disease (CD). CD is when a person’s immune system reacts to gluten and causes damage in the small bowel. You must carry one of the predisposing genes to develop CD and the condition is lifelong.

But gluten isn’t always the bad guy for everyone. The Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 2016 published findings that the early introduction or delayed introduction of gluten, does not increase the infants risk of developing CD, whether they carry the genes or not.

My recommendation is to include limited amounts of a variety of grains (not just wheat) as apart of the infants diet from 6 months of age. If the infant has a first degree relative with CD, I would use caution but not exclude gluten on this basis. In the West, we have the tendency to have a diet high in refined wheat. Eg. Cereal from breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. Over eating any food, will cause problems for most people. Give your baby a variety of grains but avoid refined and white flours. Use whole grains, preferable soaked, sprouts and/or sourdough. The hard end of a sourdough loaf is a great alternative to a rusk or a wholesome barley soup made with fresh chicken broth is a very nutrient dense family meal.

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