Within the last couple years, a gluten-free diet has made a name for itself, appearing in health and fitness magazines as the trendy new thing to try. On the flip side, Celiac disease has given people no choice in the matter—a gluten-free diet can be the difference between life and death.
So, let’s chat and chew about whether or not you should go gluten-free.
What is Gluten?
First and foremost, Gluten is a protein, which acts as the glue that holds food together, helping to keep its shape. Although gluten is found in many foods, the top three include wheat, barley, and rye.
What is Celiac disease?
Google1 explains Celiac disease as “a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine.” Furthermore, gluten prevents the small intestine from absorbing parts of food that are essential to staying healthy. The National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse estimates that more than 2 million people—or, 1 in every 133 people—are affected by Celiac disease in the United States2.
While a gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat someone with Celiac disease, there are advantages for people experiencing other health-related issues. Erica Kannall3, registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist, states that, “eliminating gluten may improve conditions ranging from digestion to thinking.” Rather than take another prescription or rely on caffeine, if you’re experience symptoms similar to these or the ones below, maybe a gluten-free diet will do the trick.
- Digestion: The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) states that removing gluten from your diet reduces chances of stomachaches, abdominal cramping, gas, bloating, and more4.
- Neurological: According to Kannall, eliminating gluten can lead to improved moods, better focus, and clearer thinking as well. NFCA also found that “people with gluten sensitivities report that eating gluten causes headaches, foggy thinking, ADHD-like symptoms, and even depression4.”
- Inflammation: Inflammation in body tissues or itchy rashes can result from gluten sensitivity. The Mayo Clinic reports that people with a gluten intolerance may experience joint pain, muscle cramping, and numbness after consuming gluten5.
- Energy: Gluten sensitivity prevents proper digestion and absorption of vitamins/minerals the body needs, which can lead to malnutrition and a drop in energy levels.
What’s on the menu?
As expected with any lifestyle change, individuals who choose to be gluten-free might feel deprived at first because of dietary restrictions. Surprisingly though, there are far more Gluten-free products—even bread and pasta—than one might think. Check out this list, provided by the Celiac Disease Foundation6, which discusses safe gluten-free options, as well as foods you must avoid.
New to gluten-free baking? Get started with this Guide to Gluten-Free Baking.
Or, jump right in with some of these gluten-free recipes:
Regardless of why somebody chooses to live a gluten-free lifestyle, it’s important to note that this diet is not as cut-and-dry as others. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before making changes to your lifestyle or diet. If you’re interested in trying a gluten-free diet, check out online forums for people’s feedback on their personal experiences.
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