What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in some grains, such as wheat, rye and barley. An article from Healthline states that “Gluten offers a variety of functional culinary benefits and is responsible for the soft, chewy texture that is characteristic of many gluten-containing, grain-based foods.” Gluten can trigger serious health problems or other insensitivities for people who have celiac disease.
For more information about gluten, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation here.
How does gluten affect someone with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance?
From Harvard Medical School, “In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, cause a host of symptoms, and lead to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures.”
Is gluten bad for you?
If you don’t have celiac disease, gluten in and of itself is not bad for you. Gluten “should be avoided in patients with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or allergy. Otherwise, there is no sufficient evidence to say it’s bad,” Dr. Abdullah Shatnawei, MD, medical director of the Center for Gut Rehabilitation and Transplantation at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, says.
What is a gluten-free diet?
On a gluten-free diet, you do not eat wheat, rye, and barley. These foods contain gluten, a type of protein. People follow gluten-free diets for a number of reasons, the main reason being an effective treatment for celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity.
Purpose of a gluten-free diet
A gluten-free diet is essential for managing signs and symptoms of celiac disease and other medical conditions associated with gluten. A gluten-free diet is also popular among people who haven't been diagnosed with a gluten-related medical condition. The claimed benefits of the diet are improved health, weight loss and increased energy, but more research is needed.
Is a gluten-free diet healthy for someone who doesn't have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity?
Gluten-free diets are becoming increasingly popular, especially due to the growing awareness surrounding gluten intolerance. This article reviews everything you need to know about gluten, including what it is, which foods contain it, how it may affect those with gluten intolerance, and if you should go gluten-free.
Gluten-free diet benefits
For many individuals, the advantages and benefits of a gluten free diet translate to better health. Gluten free has now become part of a healthy lifestyle. Gluten free, along with cutting carbohydrates, and eating more vegetables and fruit, can help some people lose weight. A newsletter from MedicalNewsToday stated that, “New research, published in the journal Nature Communications, finds that a diet low in gluten may also benefit the health of people who are not allergic to it. However, the benefits are not down to the mere absence of gluten.” The key they found is the quality of dietary fibers in the diet.
Should I go gluten-free?
While there are little to none proven health benefits to going gluten-free if you aren’t suffering from celiac disease, it can still be a healthy way to eat. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A gluten-free diet can still be a healthy way to eat depending on which gluten-free foods you choose, how often you eat them and whether your other food choices are healthy ones.”
What are some good gluten-free choices?
Good gluten-free choices include naturally gluten-free foods, such as lean meats, low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruit, whole gluten-free grains and healthy fats. It is important to remember that if you do go gluten-free to make sure you’re getting enough fiber to replace the kind you’d normally get from whole wheat.
This list from the Mayo Clinic details some naturally gluten-free foods that can be part of a healthy diet:
Fruits and vegetables
- Beans, seeds, legumes and nuts in their natural, unprocessed forms
- Lean, non-processed meats, fish and poultry
- Most low-fat dairy products
Grains, starches or flours that can be part of a gluten-free diet include:
- Corn — cornmeal, grits and polenta labeled gluten-free
- Gluten-free flours — rice, soy, corn, potato and bean flours
- Hominy (corn)
- Rice, including wild rice
- Tapioca (cassava root)