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First Years Pregnancy Jun 17, 2019
4 Minutes

Can fibre reduce the risk of Celiac disease in our children??

Research increasingly points to having a ‘healthy’ gut as a way to improve immunity and specifically help to reduce the incidence of our immune systems ‘misfiring’ causing allergies/autoimmune conditions. One area where the science is looking more robust is around one autoimmune condition specifically: Celiac disease. We look at what the science says and how you can potentially use this to increase the odds that your baby’s immune system develops in the healthiest way possible.

We are big proponents of keeping a healthy gut, particularly during pregnancy. That includes both prebiotic foods (think lots of insoluble fibre that feed the bacteria in your gut and help produce those all important short chain fatty acids click here for much more) and lots of probiotic foods before, during and after pregnancy. Great for little people too.

We also know that one of the issues that is on the rise in our kids these days is allergies, intolerances and autoimmune conditions including Celiac disease. In fact, we know now that as many as 1/100 kids born in Europe is now diagnosed with this (potentially more as it is not super simple to diagnose…)

Are these two things linked?

Well, research is increasingly pointing that way (click here for much more on some of the science behind the potential causes). One new piece of research to add to the mix is something that was unveiled by a group of Norwegian researchers and recently presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society of Pediatrics Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

What does the research suggest? Why should we care?

Well first off – let’s take a step back, what is Celiac’s disease and why is it a problem?

Firstly, we know that children these days seem to be increasingly suffering from allergies, intolerances and autoimmune conditions. Celiac is a form of autoimmune disease – that is effectively where the body attacks itself. It is similar to things like Type I diabetes (also on the rise) and skin conditions like Psoriasis. In the case of Celiac disease it is caused by an abnormal reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat/barley and rye). It is also very important to diagnose as early as possible as long term without treatment it can lead to other complications. See below for a really useful chart showing some of the key stats and facts around Celiac and what to watch for.

We also know that many of us, with our modern western diets, are not getting the recommended fibre: 25g/day for women and 38g/day for men. In fact, on average research suggests that we are getting somewhere between 17-19g with some people obviously having less than that. …

So, what did the study look at?

The research presented looked at 88,000 children over an 11 year time frame (from 1999 to 2009) so pretty robust, and looked at the intake of fibre and gluten by the mother during pregnancy in order to understand if there was a link between this and a child having celiac disease or not.

What were the findings?

The conclusions of this study were actually very interesting….

Now, this is just one study of course and the researchers do point out that more needs to be done (as currently there is not much else out there) but, it showed the following:

  • Increased fibre during pregnancy was linked to lower risk of celiac in children

  • In fact: it was 8% lower risk per 10g increase of fibre during pregnancy

  • Even more significant: the highest fibre intake ie. above 45g/day equated to 34% lower risk vs the lowest fibre intake group ie. below 19g/day.

What was also interesting is that the type of fibre and gluten seems to matter, with the research suggesting that getting fibre from fruit and vegetable was superior to getting it from cereal base.

So, what can we take from this?

Well, one of the things discussed by the work led by Dr Ketil Stordal is that this may be linked to the development of a child’s gut flora which adds to other research that seems to be growing in this area. We know that the earliest colonists of a baby’s gut (which sets the tone for the child’s entire life) not only starts to build at the very earliest stage ie. in utero but really begin when the child is born from the birth canal, mother’s skin and milk – click here for much more. This research seems to add weight to what you eat during pregnancy being significant.

Good sources of fibre:

The research suggests that fruit and vegetable sources are the best bet. Click here for much more on prebiotic foods – specifically insoluble fibre – and what the science suggests – but, if you do want to increase your fibre intake during pregnancy – here are some great sources (not an exhaustive list – these are some of our picks that are also low in sugar which is beneficial for your gut and health) to consider and approximate proportion of fibre/100g.

Avocado: 6.7g

Blueberries: 2.4g

Lentils: 7.9g

Chickpeas: 7.6g

Quinoa: 2.8g

Oats: 10.6g

Almonds: 12.5g (other nuts and seeds like sunflower/pumpkin/pistachio etc)

Chia: 34.4g

Artichokes: 10g

Dark coloured vegetables are also a good source (good rule of thumb – typically the darker the veg the higher the fibre) think broccoli/spinach for example.

Raspberries: 6.4g

Bonus sources… !

Dark chocolate (as long as it is between 75-95% coco): 10.9g

Popcorn (although watch what is added to it!) 14.5g

Bottom line: we like fibre in our diets for many reasons. Especially if the sources of it are whole organic foods. This seems to be yet another reason to concentrate on adding these foods to your diet, especially if you’re pregnant, trying to be pregnant, breastfeeding or have a small person.


This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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