Can including gluten early in an infant’s diet prevent celiac disease (CD)? New data supports this possibility. Analysis of the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) randomized, controlled trial published in JAMA Pediatrics this September reported that none of the 488 children in the early introduction group who consumed around 500 mg of gluten per day (equivalent to about ¼ – ½ slice of bread) from the age of 4 months developed CD by the age of 3, compared to 1.4% of the 516 children who did not receive early introduction and instead were exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age.
We are eager to see future studies on the potential therapeutic approach of early consumption of gluten in preventing CD. Together with the studies that show that early allergen introduction reduces the risk of developing food allergies, it seems that there is a critical window within the first few months of life where safe exposures, within an environment of healthy inputs (such as breastfeeding where possible, andprobiotics, vitamin D and fish oil via Mom) may help reduce the chance of immune system disturbances.
Kara Fitzgerald, ND, received her doctor of naturopathic medicine degree from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She completed the first Counsel on Naturopathic Medicine-accredited post-doctorate position in nutritional biochemistry and laboratory science at Metametrix Clinical Laboratory under the direction of Richard Lord, PhD. Her residency was completed at Progressive Medical Center, a large, integrative medical practice in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Fitzgerald is the lead author and editor of Case Studies in Integrative and Functional Medicine and is a contributing author to Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine and the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM)’s Textbook for Functional Medicine. With the Helfgott Research Institute, Dr. Fitzgerald is actively engaged in clinical research on the DNA methylome using a diet and lifestyle intervention developed in her practice. The first publication from the study focuses on reversal of biological aging and was published 04-12-2021 in the journal Aging. She has published a consumer book titled Younger You as well as a companion cookbook, Better Broths and Healing Tonics and has an application-based Younger You Program, based on the study.
Dr. Fitzgerald is on the faculty at IFM, is an IFM Certified Practitioner and lectures globally on functional medicine. She runs a Functional Nutrition Residency program, and maintains a podcast series, New Frontiers in Functional Medicine and an active blog on her website, www.drkarafitzgerald.com. Her clinical practice is in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
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