By Chass Armstrong

Gluten. It seems as though more and more often people are seeing this word on labels, in magazines and journals, and in the media. Until a few years ago, Gluten, Gluten-Intolerance, and Celiac disease were relatively unheard of. But now, they are all household words that many really can’t quite put a finger on.

Gluten is a protein found in weight, barley, and rye. Essentially, it is responsible for dough’s elastic structure, and is why breads often have a chewy texture. It can also be used as a meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians.

Ok, that seems harmless, so why is it getting a bad rap?

Well, gluten itself is harmless to most, and ethical too, in the eyes of many vegans and vegetarians, but some people are insensitive to gluten which causes them constipation, bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, and ITBS. People who are actually allergic to gluten are known as Celiacs because they have what is known as Celiac disease.

In recent years many studies and effort has been put into discovering where Celiacs came from, how people get it and ways to prevent it. Many studies have been based on the introduction of gluten into a baby’s diet and when to introduce it during a nursing cycle.

Studies have shown that breastfeeding may help reduce a baby’s risk of celiac disease because a mother’s milk will have trace amounts of gluten in it, therefore gradually exposing babies. Furthermore, according to the Director of the Center for Celiac Research, Alessio Fassano MD, introducing your baby to gluten around 6 months of age while continuing to breastfeed for up to 12 months can decrease a baby’s chance of developing celiac disease.

So yes, even though gluten is not harmful to most, it can be for a very small percentage of the population who has Celiac Disease. Continuing to breastfeed after gluten has been introduced to the diet after 6 months will reduce your baby’s chance of developing celiac disease.