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The Why’s of a Gluten-free Diet


You may have heard about celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, or gluten intolerance, for which the body reacts negatively to gluten. An individual with celiac disease or gluten intolerance may experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, foggy brain, rashes, headache, fatigue, or joint pain. 

But, what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in many foods we eat that contain wheat, barley, and rye.  

Adapting to a gluten-free diet is often necessary for those who have an adverse reaction to the ingestion of gluten.  In addition, it helps manage symptoms of celiac disease and other medical conditions associated with gluten.

Surprisingly, some individuals opt for a gluten-free diet, although they do not have any gluten-related conditions.   It is believed that such a diet may improve health, increase weight loss and energy levels.

You would be surprised to discover the variety of foods that include gluten that is often overlooked.  Chicken coated in flour before frying or added flour to soup to thicken it are just a couple of examples of how one can be caught off guard. In addition, eating out makes it so much more challenging to manage a gluten-free diet.  One never knows what is used to prepare a meal.

A gluten-free diet requires paying attention to the ingredients found in food and the ingredients used to prepare food.    

Did You Know?

  • Anything made with white and wheat flour or rye has gluten.  This includes cookies, cakes, bagels, muffins, croissants, hamburger buns, scones, and even pizza. So make up your mind to say goodbye to these tasty delights.
  • Almost all breakfast cereals have gluten, Cheerios, Honey Bunched of Oats, Ceram of Wheat, and so much more.  To be safe, read the labels before buying and avoid anything with wheat, barley, rye, or malt. However, be not dismayed; rice and corn cereals are an alternate option; just check to ensure no hidden culprits such as malt.
  • Pasta is made out of wheat.  Regular pasta that is – spaghetti and linguine, penne, shells, macaroni.  A great alternative is pasta made from corn, rice, or quinoa.

Make these a regular part of your diet:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans, seeds, legumes, and nuts in their natural, unprocessed forms
  • Eggs
  • Lean, non-processed meats, fish, and poultry
  • Most low-fat dairy products

Gluten-Free Diet:  The Down Side

Despite having a variety of health benefits, a gluten-free diet can have some downsides.

  • Risk of Nutritional Deficiency:  People who have celiac disease are at risk of several nutritional deficiencies.  These include deficiencies in fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, folate, zinc, vitamins A, D, E. 
  • Constipation: Constipation is a common side-effect of a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free diets eliminate many popular sources of fiber like bread, bran, and other wheat-based products. It would be necessary to eat more natural fruits, vegetables, and legumes to reduce constipation.
  • Cost: Following a gluten-free diet can be pretty costly.  The cost for preparing gluten-free foods is higher than the cost of regular foods that are replaced. 

A gluten-free diet may seem bland when started, but with dedication and determination, it is a change that can make a big difference.  Remember, we are what we eat.

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