For years, going gluten-free has been indicated for a wide-variety of health conditions; including improved health and energy, weight loss, dealing with ADHD, headaches, autism and a variety of other health conditions. Going gluten-free may even be viewed as a trend by some. However, long before the trend, a gluten-free diet has been used by the medical community as a proven treatment for a condition known as celiac disease.
While studies are in the works to show the health benefits for other health conditions, currently the only individuals, who need to participate in a gluten-free diet, are those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. One of the most common misconceptions about gluten-free diets is that they are healthier. In reality, gluten-free diets are difficult to follow and contain a number of nutritional setbacks. As a result, the only people who need to be following a gluten-free diet are those who are being monitored by their physician.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, in which a person is unable to tolerate gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, rye and wheat. Gluten can also be found in pasta, bread, beer, salad dressing and cold cuts.
When a person diagnosed with Celiac disease consumes gluten, the lining of their small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged. This can make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. As a result, patients with Celiac disease may experience weight loss and become malnourished. A patient with Celiac disease may also experience abdominal pain, bloating, upset stomachs, and diarrhea.
Just because you experience problems with gluten does not automatically mean you will test positive for Celiac disease. There are plenty of individuals out there, who test negative for the disease yet still experience a negative reaction when it comes to consuming gluten.
Doctors are able to distinguish Celiac disease from gluten sensitivity largely because those with gluten sensitivity do not have visible damage to their intestines. While most doctors generally accept the same definition of gluten sensitivity, its cause remains a mystery.
Gluten-Free Diet Allowances:
While on a gluten-free diet you are able to enjoy:
- Beans, seeds, nuts in their unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (that are not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Fruits and vegetables
- A majority of dairy products
- Gluten-free flours (including rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
- Hominy (corn)
Foods to be avoided on a gluten-free diet:
- Barley (including malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar)
These foods should be avoided unless their packaging indicates they are gluten-free:
- French fries
- Imitation meats and seafoods
- Processed meats
- Salad dressings
- Soy cause
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods
- Self-basting poultry
- Vegetables in sauce
Again, going gluten-free does not necessarily mean going healthier. There are plenty of things to keep in-mind before going gluten-free. While going gluten-free, you may experience deficiencies in irone, vitamin D, vitamin B12, fiber and magnesium.