Understanding The Gluten Free Diet – The Truth You Need To Know!

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Gluten is a protein complex found in various grains including wheat, barley, rye, spelt, Kamut and triticale. While oats themselves are gluten free, being run through the same grain meals as those grains that contain gluten can contaminate oats. Gluten is what gives bread its chewiness and adds additional flavor to grains. While most people can tolerate gluten quite well, there is a growing number of people diagnosed with Celiac disease. For people with this condition consuming even small amounts of gluten can lead to a number of health problems.

Effects of Gluten On Those With Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is when the immune system reacts negatively to Gluten and if left untreated can cause serious damage to the small intestine. Celiac disease is often marked by inflammation of the small intestine, nausea, constipation, and malnutrition caused by the body’s inability to absorb nutrients. Eventually, this disease can result in robbing the brain, liver, bones and other organs of nutrients necessary to function effectively.

In addition to Celiac disease many people have gluten sensitivity which means that they experience much of the same problems as people with Celiac disease, but without the damage to the small intestine. For these people a gluten free diet is the only effective treatment to help them remain healthy.

However, many other people choose to eat a Gluten free diet either as a way of attempting to lose weight or because they simply believe it is healthier. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of a Gluten free diet will help you to decide if this diet is right for you.

Benefits of A Gluten Free Diet

  • Gluten free diets are necessary for those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, but they may have some benefits for others as well. Some of these benefits include:
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Better digestive health
  • Reduction in processed foods, which results in a lower consumption of unhealthy additives and preservatives as well as high levels of HFCS (sugar). This may result in fewer food allergies and some weight loss.
  • May reduce the risk of heart disease in certain people as well as certain types of cancers.

Disadvantages of A Gluten Free Diet

  • Less consumption of nutrients. While a gluten free diet can actually help people with Celiac disease absorb nutrients better giving their bodies more of the nutrients they need, this diet in itself lacks some important nutrients that the body needs such as folate. If people on gluten free diet do not find some means of getting these necessary nutrients from sources other than grain then they may find themselves with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • The Need for a lot of food preparation time. Since gluten is present in a number of foods besides grains, in order to correctly follow a gluten free diet you are going to need much more time to prepare your meals. This may be difficult for people who work long hours every day.

Getting it Right

A gluten free diet takes a long time to get right. It takes those who need this kind of diet months to learn all the ins and outs of following a gluten free diet. They spend a lot of time learning to read labels to ensure that there is no gluten in any food they purchase. Following a gluten free diet properly can help repair the small intestine and help those with gluten sensitivities and Celiac disease to regain their health.

However, when people who don’t need to eat gluten free go on a gluten free diet, all too often they eliminate certain foods from their diet without substituting acceptable foods in their place. For example, a person may choose to eat a steak and baked potato dinner ( a gluten free meal) but end up eating excessive calories and extra unhealthy fats.

In other cases, people simply cut out the foods containing gluten and don’t stop to think that they need to get the necessary vitamins and minerals these foods contain from another source. This can lead to a number of health problems that the person wouldn’t have experienced if they stuck to overall healthy diet.

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