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Enjoying the Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

gluten free diet Enjoying the Benefits of a Gluten Free DietThe gluten-free diet has grown in popularity primarily due to the number of people diagnosed with Celiac disease every year.

A simple blood test can detect antibodies suggestive of Celiac disease, but this isn’t the end of the line.  Some people receive a false negative reading.  Regardless, an intestinal biopsy is required to diagnose the condition.

The gluten-free diet has grown in popularity among those who don’t have celiac disease. While most people who don’t have clinically documented reactions to gluten don’t completely avoid it, the benefits of following most of the diet restrictions can be surprising.

Why Those with Celiac Disease Go Gluten-Free

A strict gluten-free diet means no oats, wheat, rye, barley, or malt flavorings, and everything from soy sauce to fried chicken is off-limits because of one little protein. When people who have been diagnosed with Celiac disease follow this diet, they often experience relief of symptoms like intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, overwhelming fatigue, and muscle cramps. For these individuals, it’s important to be cautious with food preparation and eating out is often more trouble than it’s worth.

All utensils, dishes, and surfaces used in the making of gluten-free food have to be thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and separated from the main preparation area unless the restaurant is a dedicated gluten-free facility. Fortunately, these strict limitations don’t apply to people who just want to try a healthy diet.

Gluten-Free Benefits for Anyone

Basing your diet off of the gluten-free phenomenon can be genuinely healthy and may benefit your cholesterol levels, digestion, and energy level. You don’t have to worry about the little things like soy sauce and malt flavorings, but if you avoid the major red flags in the gluten-free diet, you just might start to feel healthier. For example, you would have to avoid everything that’s fried because of the breading, which would allow you to avoid the oil and fat, as well.

Most desserts would be off-limits, decreasing your sugar and fat intake. However, healthy grains like rice and corn would still be in the mix, giving you the carbohydrates your body needs. With many of the over-processed starches removed from your diet, you’d be likely to start eating more fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products in addition to healthy grains.

You would also be giving up most fast food (can’t have those buns) except for salads, helping you to avoid even more grease, fat, and oil, but you could keep French fries on the list of deliciously unhealthy foods you would still be allowed to eat. Overall, you would consume less junk food and more fresh food, which is a healthy way for anyone to eat.

Editor’s note: Celiac disease is drastically under diagnosed in the United States. Estimates suggest that 1 in 250 people are affected by this condition though only 1 in 3000 are diagnosed with it. The ‘paleo’ or paleolithic diet is one example of a gluten-free diet that’s growing in popularity. Celebrities such as Gweneth Paltrow or Chelsea Clinton suggest that they experience health benefits such as increased energy levels as well as generally ‘feeling healthier.’

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education. She blogs about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
  • http://www.squidoo.com/vertical-window-air-conditioner-units-review ProForm Ellipticals

    For some this can be an option for improving health and wellbeing, If you feel you may have something wrong with your digestion, it may be worthwhile getting checked to see if you need to switch to a gluten free diet, for some it can make all the difference, for others simply increasing exercise frequency can help, this can be done in ways such as cardio, whether done on a treadmill, or an elliptical, or just out jogging or swimming.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1560450881 Bill Poulakis

    I have been experimenting with Gluten free/dairy free diets for about 9 months and have experienced the following benefits:
    Reduced body fat.
    Less aches and pains.
    Higher energy levels.
    Quicker recovery after athletic actvities.
    general sense of overall better well being.
    I cheat on Fridays and I can feel a difference on Saturdays.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708217105 Donna Cotterell

    I really enjoyed this article, because it explained the health benefits of a gluten free diet for everyone, not just those with celiac disease.

  • Sham

    Glutton free diet is something which I always wanted to start. Your post gave me a better idea about it.

  • http://www.healingaia.com healingaia Holistic Wellness

    Great article thank you! You have been added to our conscious eating/gluten free section on our links page.
    http://www.healingaia.com/links.php#conscious-eating

  • Lisa

    Hi –

    I have two children with celiac disease. I agree that it is important for celiac disease to get the recognition that it needs, but I also do believe that others may benefit from removing gluten and there is no real harm in doing so. Many countries have diets with little to no gluten.

    I know a few people that have eliminated gluten and swear they feel better. I am happy that more and more foods are labeled as gluten free, tastes of food have become better, and the prices are lower. I believe that some people may have a harder time breaking down gluten just as some have a hard time with dairy.

    My cousin chose to try gluten free; she lost weight, her acne (which was bad even as an adult) completely cleared, and she has a lot more energy. It helps my children to know someone else that eliminates gluten.

    I would never expect a waiter to truly know what gluten free means (even my own extended family barely gets it and they have been around it for 10 years with my kids) and whenever I take my kids out to eat I assume that they will have some level of cross contanimation (even when ordering off the gf menu). We, therefore, rarely go out to eat with them.

    For now, I really hope that people trying to be GF is not a fad because the last few years (with the incresae in GF foods available) have opened my kids up to so many more food options (from the grocery stores).

  • Eva

    Hi –

    My sister was recently diagnosed with CD and has had to go GF. I suffer a lot of the same symptoms she has, but haven’t been tested, so I opted to go GF to help her out and see if there were any changes in my ‘issues’. I haven’t been 100% GF (admittedly), but I have noticed a fairly rapid, marked improvement in my energy and my intestinal issues.

    I’m still in the learning process and will talk to my doctor about it, but this article and thread was really helpful.

  • http://www.thatfigureswomensfitness.com Deb

    I just wanted to re-emphasize a point that Vicki made: if the french fries you order are nice and crispy, most likely they have been coated with flour. It’s a very common practice.

  • http://www.pahealthinsurancecoverage.com Ed @ Keystone Insurance Rates

    Interestingly, our daughter’s health class in school is having everybody eat gluten-free for a week to see what it is like.

    I’m curious to see how many of the kids will stay gluten-free after the experiment.

    This starts next week.

    • http://www.jarretmorrow.com Jarret

      Hey Ed, what was your daughter’s gluten-free week experience like for her?

  • Vicki

    It’s nice that you have rewritten the start of the article and amended the inaccuracies with regard to testing for CD.

    It’s also worth pointing out that those on a gluten free diet need to be especially careful about managing a balanced diet. CD sufferers are often lacking in essential vitamins and minerals, they find it harder to absorb and often don’t know they are lacking until symptoms appear. Common deficiencies are Vitamin D, B12, calcium and iron.

    • http://www.jarretmorrow.com Jarret Morrow

      Vicki, thank you again for your feedback.

      Just in case you hadn’t noticed, our blog is a multi-author website, and I did not write the article itself.

      I did make a few tweaks after receiving your feedback to avoid any further potential confusion.

      Cheers

  • http://www.jarretmorrow.com Jarret Morrow

    Erin, I do appreciate what you’re saying about some of the potential problems resulting from people who don’t have Celiac disease choosing to eat a gluten-free diet.

  • http://www.glutenfreefitness.com Erin Elberson

    Thanks Jarrett for you clarification.
    I completely agree that eating gluten free can have health benefits if:
    -non processed, naturally gluten free foods are eaten, as was suggested in the article. There are many manufacturers who make gluten free baked goods etc, so you can eat just as unhealthfully as the standard American Diet and be gluten free. This is nice for celiacs to have a special treat or a once in a while indulgence, but can also make “gluten free” no more healthy than the SAD.
    Also, my biggest fear is that those who go gluten free and are not celiacs may be at a restaurant and tell the waiter they need a gluten free meal, and then have a bite of bread or cake. The waiter sees that, thinks “oh, a little gluten must be OK” so less care is taken in cross contamination issues, and then celiacs start getting sick.
    I realize that may be a stretch, but the celiac community has worked so hard to have the ability to eat safe meals in restaurants I would hate to see that impaired.

    • http://cheapercosmeticsurgeryabroad.com timgardine

      I can completely agree with the idea that non-celiac people can unintentionally sabotage things for people with a genuine allergy. I spent years working as a chef, and always have been been very conscious of the importance of people’s diets, whether for allergy, health, religious or ethical reasons. However, I remember one big catering event where a woman was adamant that her food had to be completely wheat free. I prepared separate, gluten-free desserts and everything else for her, but was horrified to see her pick up a bread roll and put it to her mouth. I ran over to her to stop her, and she said that because it was brown bread it was okay.

      Now, if I did not already know several people with genuine, debilitating, sometimes life threatening, allergies, I could have easily come to the conclusion that gluten-free food was just a silly food fad!

  • Vicki

    Articles like this make me mad! There are so many inaccuracies I don’t even know where to start!

    I have CD and have to eat GF. It’s a total mystery to me why anyone would do this by choice. Eating healthier and making informed choices about what we put in our bodies is a great goal for all of us. Touting this as a gluten free diet is just stupid. If something makes you sick obviously don’t eat it but why make it difficult for the people that need to adhere to a very restrictive diet.

    There are many traps in a gluten free diet. Many processed GF foods are packed with fat, sugar and salt. Often a gluten free diet can lead to weight gain, elimating all processed foods would be a better message. Wheat is a cheap filler and when that’s eliminated a lot of care needs to be taken reading labels.

    A blood test does not confirm CD and generally the small bowel biopsy is the gold standard test. It is not the “choice” of those who get a false negative. Many people test positive on blood tests and are found to be negative on a biopsy. Encouraging people to skip the tests is less than helpful. CD is hereditary, other family members are unlikely to get tested without a definitive diagnosis. CD is a multi system disease and can present in many different forms.

    Eating GF means not touching those french fries you recommend or anything that is cooked in the same oil as gluten containing foods. Often french fries are coated in flavourings that contain wheat or even coated in flour!

    It’s extremely difficult to be taken seriously as it is. Celiacs are getting glutened through lack of food knowledge and education. Please don’t feed the fad factor.

    • http://www.jarretmorrow.com Jarret Morrow

      Vicki, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You’re right that starting a healthy gluten-free diet is not as simple as it initially sounds.

      We’re definitely not suggesting that anyone should skip any appropriate medical tests or treatment from their physicians.

      I don’t think that the intention of this article was to feed the fad factor rather it was to raise awareness. Celiac disease is often under diagnosed and proper treatment is required to avoid complications including anemia, osteoporosis, and others.

  • http://www.glutenfreefitness.com Erin Elberson

    Let’s please keep in mind that while many may see benefit from going gluten free, for those with celiac disease it is a medical necessity. Even a little gluten is poison to the small intestine. It is NOT a fad diet.
    The danger in non celiacs going gluten free is that restaurants and other food manufacturers may not take “gluten free” as seriously as they should. Gluten free needs to truly mean gluten free, and safe for celiacs, not just those who chose to eat gluten free.
    Let’s not downplay the importance and need for awareness of cross contamination.
    Overall I think higher incidence of those utilizing a gluten free diet is good, but it needs to be very seriously considered as to not undermine the medical necessity of eating gluten free for those with celiac.

    • http://www.jarretmorrow.com Jarret Morrow

      Erin, I completely agree with you that the gluten-free diet is not a fad diet. I apologize if you interpreted my comment as diminishing the importance of this diet, particularly for those with Celiac disease. As we noted in the article, Celiac disease is a drastically under diagnosed medical condition.

      To me, the gluten-free diet also makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. I was serious about trying it for myself.

    • Lori

      You are right about not undermining the necessity of gluten-free for celiacs-which I am-but I have to admit that if more people are choosing to eat gluten free, then more restaraunts will create gluten free menus. As it stands now, I just drive my server nuts with questions if the restaraunt I am in does not have a gluten free menu.

    • Holly

      I think those with celiac would just need to be clear they have an allergy. There is a large difference between allergic and dietary choice. I have a friend with celiac disease and she explains every time we are at a restaurant that she is allergic and it would hurt her. Otherwise, waiters and waitresses don’t seem to understand. So my point is I don’t think the argument that they won’t take “gluten free” seriously is invalid because they have no choice to not take “allergy” seriously.

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  • http://www.jarretmorrow.com Jarret

    Maria, great stuff! The gluten-free diet is certainly the “it” diet right now. Some compare it to what the low-carb diet was ten years ago.

    Celebrities such as Gweneth Paltrow, Chelsea Chilton, and Douglas Robb ;) have gone gluten-free!

    It’s even got its own catch phrase right now, “G-free.”

    I know that our Dr. Dan from Darwin’s Table as well as Doug as I mentioned are big paleo diet fans. The Paleo diet is also gluten-free.

    I’m actually thinking of trying it myself. A few years ago, I unconsciously eliminated most gluten rich foods from my diet and I’m going to give it a try again!