Gluten free living has hit an all-time high with many people opting for a lifestyle that doesn’t include gluten to help with digestion, general health, and weight loss. There are 3 main categories for gluten related disorders so, before you decide if gluten-free is right for you, here are a few things to consider:
Celiac Disease – This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the intestines every time gluten is consumed. Damage to the intestines prevents nutrients from being absorbed, leading to diseases of malnutrition and other long-term health issues. There are over 300 different symptoms that vary from one person to another, which makes Celiac disease very hard to diagnose. It is estimated that 3 million Americans have Celiac disease, but as many as 80% have not been formally diagnosed.
Wheat Allergy – This is an allergic disorder, with an immediate response of hives, itching, swelling and sometimes more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and anaphylaxis. About 300,000 people in the U.S. (0.1% of the population) have a wheat allergy.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity – This is not an autoimmune or allergic disorder. The symptoms are like celiac disease, but there is no damage to the intestines. Very little is known about gluten sensitivity, making it hard to estimate its true prevalence within the U.S. population.
What should you consider before deciding to go gluten-free? People who experience recurring gastrointestinal distress, have decided to go gluten free to help alleviate intestinal discomfort, (that doesn’t mean that you have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity, so it’s best to see a medical professional and get tested), while others decide to go gluten free for the sole purpose of weight loss, but remember, going gluten-free means a drastic change in diet and a gluten free diet is very restrictive. Many high calorie junk foods as well as staple foods like bread, cereal and pasta can no longer be eaten. You can eat fresh fruits and vegetables, meats (beef, poultry, seafood) and dairy. Also, maintaining any exclusion diet (including gluten free) over time is something many people find very hard to do and going gluten-free may also mean reaching deeper into your pocket. In many cases, gluten-free products are priced much higher than their conventional equivalents.
So, what’s the bottom line about going gluten free? Without diagnosed celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity, there is nothing wrong with gluten in your diet. However, if you think that you could benefit from a gluten free diet, talk to your doctor before going gluten free and until next time, stay happy, healthy and beautiful.