Children’s Diet: Consequences of Eliminating Gluten or Dairy

Eliminating dairy and gluten from the child’s diet for no apparent reason such as allergy or intolerance can lead to health problems

Currently, fashions have a great influence on people’s habits and therefore also on eating habits. In recent years there is a growing trend to eliminate gluten and dairy from children’s diets. The reasons are diverse, from making the decision based on a personal belief (veganism, vegetarianism, religion…), to solving hypothetical digestive problems, to leading “a healthier life”…

Whatever the reason, before implementing the change in diet, it is very important to be aware of the benefits or harms of following exclusive diets, and even more so, if this type of diet is applied to the smallest of the house. It should be noted that if there is an allergy or intolerance to these foods, it is obvious that they should be eliminated from the diet, but if not, if the decision is without a medical reason, it is highly recommended to seek advice from qualified professionals who know how to inform us and teach us to plan the diet correctly. The exclusion of certain foods in children, who are in full development, can have negative consequences for health.

What consequences can the elimination of dairy products cause in children?

Dairy products are the main source of calcium, a mineral that is very important in bone development, the deficiency of which can cause growth problems.

The amount of calcium in milk is difficult to replace. There are foods of plant origin that are a good source of calcium, but its bioavailability, that is, ease of absorption, must be taken into account.

Plant foods rich in calcium, such as some vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens…), some legumes (soybeans, white and black beans) or nuts (especially almonds) are rich in phytates, which reduce the absorption of calcium, so even having large amounts of this mineral, its absorption may be low. To prevent this from happening, preparation or cooking techniques must be followed that deactivate phytic acid and thus improve its bioavailability. A long cooking in cereals or soaking of several hours of legumes favor their deactivation.

In the case of obtaining calcium from seeds, such as sesame for example, they should not be taken whole but crushed in a mortar or with a coffee grinder to be able to adequately absorb the calcium inside. The consumption of vegetables rich in calcium should be separated from other foods rich in oxalates. Therefore, if it is done correctly, there may not be a deficit, but all these recommendations must be taken into account, which are impossible to follow if you do not know them.

It should be noted that if the vitamin D values ​​are not adequate, the absorption of calcium will not be correct. According to the Spanish Society for Bone Research and Mineral Metabolism (SEIOMM), 30% of young Spaniards do not reach optimal levels of vitamin D, so it is very important to have sun exposure and at least 15 minutes a day, since vitamin D it is activated with sun exposure and take into account foods rich in vitamin D: eggs, dairy products, oily fish and also fortified foods such as cereals. If it is decided to eliminate dairy products from the diet, especially the smallest ones, the blood levels of vitamin D should be controlled, in the case of being deficient it will be necessary to supplement.

And eliminate gluten?

It should be clear that eliminating gluten from the diet does not impair health, but gluten is present in many cereals: wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelled, etc. base of our diet. If these foods are correctly substituted by others(rice, potatoes, legumes, etc.) in the context of a varied diet, it does not entail too much problem. Avoid falling into monotonous and boring diets, and especially include legumes in your diet. There are substitute foods such as gluten-free pasta, bread or cereals, although their prices are double or triple that of their gluten-containing counterparts.

The main problem with eliminating gluten from the diet without a previous diagnosis is precisely detecting if there is a real problem. The only way to know if you have celiac disease is through exposure to that food.

Summarizing…

The paradox of following an exclusive diet by following a healthier diet can cause health problems if it is not done correctly. Therefore, it is important to know how to seek advice from a qualified professional since there are countless false professionals who promote a “healthy life” without even knowing the consequences that it may entail. So before making drastic changes, especially in the smallest of the house, you must select the information, contrast it or even consult pediatricians and / or nutritionists.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW…
  • Excluding certain foods in children, in full body development, can have negative consequences for health.
  • The main problem with eliminating gluten from the diet without a previous diagnosis is precisely detecting if there is a real problem.
  • Dairy products are the main source of calcium, a mineral that is very important in the development of bones, the deficiency of which can cause growth problems.

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