It’s Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month. You may have noticed more products at the grocery story that are -gluten free and have heard from some friends or family that talk about the benefits of eliminating gluten from their diet.
Originally, gluten-free diets were designed to combat celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder that destroys the intestinal tract. Celiac affects about 1 percent of the population and is reversed by taking gluten out of the diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains, such as rye and barley.
But many people try gluten-free diets to combat feeling tired, bloated or depressed, and find reducing gluten correlates with feeling better or losing weight. However, that weight loss may really result from the elimination of flour-heavy snack food from their diet.
However, some studies have stated that gluten-free diets can be nutrient-deficient (low in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium,vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc). That's because so many "gluten-free" products are made with refined, unenriched grains and starches, which contain plenty of calories but very few vitamins or minerals.
How to check if you need a gluten-free diet
- Get a complete check-up with your doctor.
- See Consult with appropriate specialists, such as an allergist for wheat allergy and a gastroenterologist for celiac or another gastrointestinal disease.
- If you do not have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, visit a registered dietitian to verify that you are eating a balanced diet with plenty of nutrient-dense, naturally fiber-rich foods and that you are getting adequate physical activity.
- If you do have celiac disease, then the elimination from gluten from your diet is the way to go.