Children with certain diseases and disorders can benefit greatly from switching to gluten free foods. Gluten is a protein, which is mainly found in foods such as bread and pasta that contain wheat, rye, or barley. A sensitivity to gluten is the cause of celiac disease, and it has also been linked to autism and misdiagnosed as ADHD. As a result, a gluten free diet can be extremely beneficial to kids with any of these conditions.
Celiac disease is a genetic condition that causes gluten proteins to harm the lining of the small intestine, and this prevents nutrients from being properly absorbed, leading to malnourishment. Obviously, a gluten free, or G/F, diet is essential to managing this disease. Kids who are diagnosed with celiac disease should immediately switch to a gluten free lifestyle. These children will need to find alternative sources of fiber, since they will no longer be consuming many high-fiber foods.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to communicate and interact. Some parents have begun trying diets free of gluten for their autistic children, and there are reports that this has reduced some of the symptoms of autism. While there has been little research done to confirm the effectiveness of this method, it could have merit. The theory is that autistic children may have sensitivities to gluten that worsen their symptoms. If this is true, then eliminating the gluten would ease symptoms.
There has also been talk of using gluten free diets to treat kids with ADHD, a behavioral disorder. While no direct link has been found between ADHD and gluten, some cases of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity in children have actually been misdiagnosed as ADHD. This occurs because celiac disease can cause neurological symptoms that are very similar to symptoms of ADHD. If symptoms improve after switching to a diet without gluten, then it is possible that the child does not actually suffer from ADHD, but from another problem that has gone unrecognized.
In any of these cases, a gluten free diet is likely to be beneficial. In the case of celiac disease, it is quite necessary. For children with autism and ADHD, it is certainly worth looking into. A simple switch in diet could make all the difference.