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Benefits of a Gluten Free Diet

Posted On: 09-23-2015
Benefits of a Gluten Free Diet

Going gluten free has sparked a dieting fad, and experts are not really sure why. However, it has resulted in many products and restaurants having gluten free alternatives available. Have you ever wondered what the health benefits are of going gluten free?

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat. It helps dough to rise and keep its shape. It’s commonly found in cereals, pastas, and breads. That means that a gluten free diet avoids things like all-purpose flour, couscous, wheat bran, rye, and barley.

Who needs to be gluten free?

About one percent of Americans have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune issue that prevents individuals from tolerating gluten. If an individual with celiac disease eats gluten, it causes damage to the lining of the small intestine and results in symptoms like bloating, gas, stomach pain, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Over the long term, it can lead to fatigue, joint pain, and hair loss.

Celiac disease is diagnosed with a blood test and is often confused with anemia, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and other issues with similar symptoms. Some individuals are intolerant of gluten or sensitive to it without having Celiac disease. Essentially, gluten intolerant or sensitive patients experience many of the same symptoms, but not as an immune response.

Gluten Free Considerations

Contrary to popular belief, being gluten free does not necessarily result in weight loss and is not a complete fix to health issues. In fact, gluten free foods can still be high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. You can even miss out on some important vitamins and fiber that your body is used to getting in gluten products, such as B vitamins and iron. For this reason, many health care professionals advise not taking the dietary risk of going gluten free unless you need to.

Your doctor can give you advice about the best dietary options for you. But in most cases, you are better off focusing on a balanced diet, gluten and all.

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