The gluten-free diet excludes grains and grain products from wheat, barley, rye, spelled, and other closely related grains. It is typically used to treat symptoms of celiac disease (CD) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). It can also be used for other conditions such as diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Gluten is a protein primarily found in wheat and related grains. When people are diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), they must avoid gluten because it causes intestinal damage, leading to other health issues like malnutrition. For those who don't suffer from these disorders but still want to reduce their risk for gluten-related illnesses, many options exist for avoiding wheat products. The effects of gluten on health are complex and not completely understood. However, food allergies are believed to be a consequence of the immune system overreacting to proteins in food it's never previously encountered.
Benefits of Trying a Gluten-Free Diet
There’s a lot of reasons that people choose a gluten free diet. Some of them include:
- The gluten-free diet can help you improve energy and concentration levels, and positively impact overall health.
- It can also reduce symptoms of celiac disease by eliminating foods that cause inflammation in the small intestine.
- Avoiding gluten can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of IBS in people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
- It is a healthy alternative to food products that are highly processed and contain potentially harmful substances such as high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated trans fats. Note that this isn’t just about eating gluten free, but choosing the right gluten free items.
- Reduces the risk of cancer, particularly gastrointestinal cancers.
- It can improve the symptoms of neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease
- It benefits people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease because gluten-free diet products are often lower in fat and fiber than their gluten-rich counterparts.
Foods You Can Consume
Foods You Can Consume are naturally gluten-free or those to which gluten has been intentionally removed. There are various culinary options to enjoy a delicious meal while still on a gluten-free diet. Pearl millet, buckwheat, sorghum, and quinoa, which come from a plant related to spinach rather than wheat, are all gluten-free grains that can be used as substitutes for wheat.
People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity must read food labels carefully because many “gluten free” products can actually contain gluten. This protein can be found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten free food product manufacturers have created innovative products for use in the kitchen that are safe for people with these conditions, such as gluten free breads and pastas, crackers and cereals. In some cases, these are not as healthy as you’d hope if they use large processing methods.
Foods To Remove
Although it's best to avoid foods like wheat, barley, rye, and spelt utterly, a wide variety of other foods are to be avoided by people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These include:
- Wheat-derived alcohols such as whiskey, vodka, and rum.
- Wheat-based spices and condiments like ketchup, soy sauce, and mustard. Consuming these irritates the small intestine bacteria in the gut, which results in symptoms of IBS.
- Egg whites.
- Hydrolyzed wheat proteins.
- Artificial sweeteners and coloring additives (sodium stearoyl lactylate).
- Certain preservatives.
- Sugar alcohols in products like Splenda or Equal can damage intestinal tissue and cause a leaky gut syndrome.
- Artificial flavors include diacetyl, associated with "butter flavor" in buttery popcorn, artificial orange, and artificial peppermint flavoring tastes in candy.
- Anything labeled "natural flavor" unless it discloses that the flavoring is made from a natural source such as herbs or spices such as spearmint.
- Artificial colors and preservatives are common additives that make food appealing to the palate without increasing its nutritional value.