Thursday, August 15, 2013

Should You Say Goodbye to Gluten?

Gluten: it’s a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and oats that’s getting a lot of attention these days. In fact, one of the latest trends in nutrition is the “gluten-free diet.” For some people, especially those with celiac disease, adopting a gluten-free diet is critical to their health. However, for others who digest gluten well and have no medical reason to avoid it, the diet might not offer any benefit at all.

In individuals with celiac disease, gluten inflames the lining of the intestines, leading to issues with absorption and digestion. Because celiac brings with it potentially dangerous complications, it’s necessary for those suffering from it to completely eliminate gluten from their diet. It’s also possible for individuals to have gluten sensitivity, meaning they don’t have celiac disease, but gluten seems to cause digestive upset for an unknown reason. Even those with gluten sensitivity may be able to tolerate a certain amount of gluten, depending on their threshold.

If you suspect you may have an issue with gluten, it is important that you consult your doctor before testing out a gluten-free diet. A simple blood test should first be performed to rule out the possibility of celiac disease.

If you choose to eliminate gluten from your diet with no medical reason, be careful of the foods you consume. It’s not unheard of for so-called “healthier” food options to have some less-than-desirable qualities. Like foods that are labeled “fat free,” gluten-free products may be high in carbohydrates, sodium and sugar. They may also have a high fat content.

Finally, as is always the case, take care to maintain a well balanced diet, even if you’ve said goodbye to gluten. This will help you avoid any nutritional deficiencies that could possibly be brought on by cutting foods with gluten from your repertoire.

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