Diet and Nutrition

Gluten-Free Meals for Children

Why Are Some Children Unable to Digest Gluten?

When a child with celiac disease ingests foods that contain gluten proteins, their immune system responds by damaging their small intestine. Specifically, small finger-like projections that line the small intestine, called intestinal villi, are destroyed. Normally, food nutrients are absorbed through these villi to be carried into the bloodstream. When these villi disappear, the person absorbs the nutrients poorly and, therefore, malnutrition becomes a problem.

Most people digest gluten easily. However, a small part of the population is gluten intolerant, which is more commonly known as celiac disease. Gliadin appears to be the protein that presents the biggest problem in celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Antibodies to gliadin are commonly found in the immune complexes associated with this disease. Due to the fact that it is body's own immune system that causes damage, celiac disease is considered to be an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a malabsorption disease, since the nutrients are not being absorbed.

Celiac disease is considered a genetic disease, meaning it is transmitted within relatives. In some cases, the disease is triggered or becomes active for the first time after surgical intervention, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress. To avoid problems in the development of celiac children who suffer from this food allergy at a rate five times greater than adults, it is important to monitor their diet and create a gluten-free diet tailored to their specific needs. However, this does not mean that food will be unbalanced or something like that.

There are many alternatives to enjoy the dishes of always introducing small modifications.