Should You Be on a Gluten-Free Diet?

A gluten-free diet sounds like a pretty good idea, right?

Not exactly. The truth is that a gluten-free diet is neither good nor bad on its own. It all depends on who’s eating it.

A gluten-free diet is a good idea if you have celiac disease, a condition affecting roughly 1 in 100 people worldwide. Celiac disease is a long-term autoimmune disorder primarily affecting the small intestine. It creates an immune reaction to eating gluten, a plant protein found in wheat, and the symptoms are severe. In fact, as of this writing, the only recommended treatment for celiac disease is to adopt a gluten-free diet.

Other people who might want to avoid gluten are those who get a rash after eating it (dermatitis herpetiformis), have a wheat allergy, or experience painful symptoms after eating it.

For everybody else, a gluten-free diet probably isn’t doing much for you and could even put your health at risk.

Gluten is a protein that’s found naturally in some grains like wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. Its main job is to bind food together and provide a bit of a stretchy quality. There is no reason to exclude it from your diet if you’re not celiac. Research has even suggested that non-celiacs that don’t consume gluten may increase their risk for heart disease. This is because avoiding gluten could lead to a lack of dietary whole grains, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

It’s also possible that gluten acts as a prebiotic, which feeds good bacteria in the gut. A lack of healthy gut bacteria is associated with a host of gastrointestinal diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel disease, and more.

A gluten-free diet is unlikely to limit bloating, promote weight loss, or any other benefits that are often hyped-up online. Put simply, only a very small segment of the population will benefit from going gluten-free.

If you do go gluten-free, some nutrient-dense whole grains don’t have it. They include:

  • Quinoa
  • Brown, black, or red rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Corn
  • Amaranth

And remember—gluten-free cookies, chips, and other processed gluten-free items are not health foods!

Author Bio

Devon Andre has been involved in the health and dietary supplement industry for a number of years. Devon has written extensively for Bel Marra Health. He has a Bachelor of Forensic Science from the University of Windsor, and went on to complete a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. Devon is keenly aware of trends and new developments in the area of health and wellness. He embraces an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices. By working to inform readers of the options available to them, he hopes to improve their health and quality of life.

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https://gluten.org/resources/getting-started/celiac-disease-2/
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/gluten/

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