Gluten is the protein responsible for making many breads rise, giving them elasticity, texture and shape. So, why would anyone choose to eat a gluten free diet, and can it be a healthy diet?

Helping relieve the symptoms of Coeliac

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition in which a person has an adverse reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and spelt goods. Symptoms of Coeliac disease are widespread and despite what some people believe are not just specific to the gastrointestinal system. For example, it is possible that someone can have stomach pain upon ingesting gluten however another may have symptoms such as brain fog or inability to concentrate or think clearly. It depends on the individual in terms of which body organ/system is affected by gluten intake.

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If a person does not have clinical Coeliac disease, it is still possible for them to still have a sensitivity to gluten. Gluten intolerance is much more common, however symptoms may be much less pronounced than with Coeliac disease.

Testing for Coeliac disease

Coeliac disease can be diagnosed through a number of different tests. Blood tests are often used as a first line diagnostic followed by endoscopy. Saliva tests are also now used. If you are suspicious of gluten intolerance or Coeliac disease speak with your doctor about the different tests available.

If you have been diagnosed with Coeliac disease, it is very important that you permanently follow a gluten free diet. Once a Coeliac disease patient switches to a gluten free diet, the intestinal damage caused by gluten begins to heal within a matter of weeks and levels of antibodies decline over just months.

gluten free diet basics

What can I eat in a gluten free diet ?

Common foods which contain gluten (unless gluten free) include:

Breads, Beer, Cakes and Pies, Cereals, Cookies and Crackers, Croutons, French Fries, Gravies, Imitation Meat or Seafood, Pastries, Pastas, Processed Luncheon Meats, Salad Dressings, Sauces, including Soy Sauce, Seasoned Rice Mixes, Seasoned Snack Foods (such as tortillas), Soups, Sweets, and Vegetables in Sauce. Although oats should not contain gluten, due to manufacturing practices it is often found in oat-containing products, unless otherwise stated.

Gluten can also be found in food additives, and certain medications and nutritional supplements which use gluten as a binding agent.

If you are following a gluten free diet, it is important that the above foods are removed. You must also become a food detective of some sort as gluten often ‘hides’ in certain foods. Ensure you read food labels.

Is a gluten free diet healthy?

It is also important to understand that just because a food is gluten free it does not automatically make it a healthy food choice. Foods such as gluten free cookies, cakes, and breads are still loaded with sugars which will spike insulin and cause unwanted health problems if consumed too often. It is still important to make good food choices. Foods such as lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and fresh clean water (Mediterranean Diet) are all foods which have been shown in countless studies to improve health and wellbeing.

It is also important to note that not just removing gluten will help people recover from the detrimental effects of having Coeliac Disease – it is important to remove other food intolerances and reduce inflammation as well as replenish nutrient levels (It has been shown that newly diagnosed Coeliacs have nutrient deficiencies). Only by doing replenishing nutrients and calming the inflammation over a period of time will a person start to recover from the adverse effects of gluten intake.

bananas, apples, carrots, juice and other foods and products part of a gluten-free diet

Does a gluten free diet help you to lose weight?

If a person is diagnosed with Coeliac disease, or think they may have Coeliac disease or some kind of gluten intolerance, by omitting gluten from their diet will help to reduce inflammation and thus can help them to lose weight. However, as previously mentioned, it is still imperative they consume a healthy diet and make good food choices.

Facts about a gluten free diet

1 in 100 people in the UK have Coeliac disease

1 in 5 people have some form of gluten sensitivity

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are highly prevalent in newly diagnosed Coeliac disease patients

A study found that 21.7% of children with Coeliac disease have a mild cardiac dysfunction – poor function of valves or poor output. All valve problems resolved and markers of cardiac dysfunction significantly improved in these patients adhering to a gluten free diet.

People diagnosed with Coeliac disease must permanently avoid all gluten-containing foods. For those, who don’t have such a condition or gluten sensitivity, check out what’s good about gluten.

 

(image credit: womenshealthmag, blog.discount-supplements, myopera)

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