What Is A Gluten-Free Diet?

Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten-Free Diet

Following a gluten-free diet has become quite popular in the last few years. A gluten-free diet is an eating plan that doesn't contain any gluten. However, this diet is the main treatment for people with celiac disease. 

People with celiac disease have permanent intolerance of gluten and going gluten-free is the only option to manage symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, headaches, anemia, cramping, and other 300 plus symptoms linked to this disease. This diet works effectively in reducing these symptoms and their severity. 

Well, even many people are adopting this diet without seeking any medical advice to reap its health benefits on their way. Before getting to know what a gluten-free diet is, let's see what gluten is and what are the health benefits of following a gluten-free diet in this article.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. It gives a sticky nature when combined with water and that glue-like property helps the gluten to create a sticky network that gives the ability to rise when baked. 

Unfortunately, many people don't feel good after consuming gluten-containing food. The most severe reaction is celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where the body mistakenly harms itself. It affects more than 1% of the population and can damage the intestines. It's always best to get tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten-free diet. A gluten-free diet is nothing but following a diet that doesn't contain any gluten products.

Problems With Gluten

Most people eat gluten without experiencing any side effects or other health issues. But, people with gluten intolerance cannot tolerate it. People with other disorders like wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity do avoid consuming gluten. Apart from allergies, there are two main reasons for avoiding gluten in their regular diet.

Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects more than 1% of the population all over the world. In this case, our body mistakes gluten as a foreign threat where the body attacks gluten proteins. In addition, this condition is also dangerous to the surrounding areas like gut walls which lead to nutritional deficiencies and increase the risk of harmful diseases in the body.

Symptoms of celiac disease include stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, skin rashes, discomfort of the stomach, weight loss, anemia, tiredness, and depression. However, these symptoms are very common in many other medical conditions which is the reason why diagnosing this disease is pretty difficult.

Non- Celiac Gluten Sensitivity:

People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity do not test positive for celiac disease or wheat allergies, but they still feel uncomfortable consuming gluten foods. Symptoms of non-celiac gluten include bloating, stomach pain, changes in bowel movements, tiredness, and eczema.

However, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is highly controversial and experts believe this exists. According to a study tested on 35 people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, they found that two-thirds of people could not tell the difference between gluten-free flour and wheat flour. Nevertheless, some of the evidence by experts have shown that gluten sensitivity exists.

Foods To Avoid

Avoiding gluten completely can be challenging sometimes. Well, below is a list of foods one should avoid if they are gluten intolerant.

  • All wheat-based products
  • Malt
  • Brewer Yeast
  • Rye
  • Triticale

Below is a list of foods that may have ingredients containing gluten, Check them out:

  • Pasta- All wheat-based pasta
  • Baked Goods- Cookies, cakes, pizza, bread crumbs, and pastries.
  • Cereals- Unless they are labeled gluten-free
  • Bread- All wheat-based
  • Sauces- Soy sauce, marinades, salad dressings, teriyaki sauce
  • Beverages- Flavored alcoholic beverages

One of the best ways to avoid gluten is to eat unprocessed foods or just read the labels of the food you buy in the store.

Foods To Include In Your Diet

There are many gluten-free options to include in your diet to enjoy healthy and delicious meals.

Check out the below list:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Grains
  • Starches and flours
  • Herbs and spices
  • Beverages
  • Spreads and oils
  • Meat and fish

Health Benefits Of Gluten-Free Diet

A gluten-free diet has many benefits, especially for those who are dealing with celiac disease. Some of the health benefits are shown below:

  • Boosts Energy:

People with celiac disease often feel tired or sluggish, these symptoms are caused by nutritional deficiencies in the body due to damage to the gut. So, if you've celiac disease, switching to a gluten-free diet helps in boosting your energy and stops you from feeling tired and sluggish.

  • Helps In Losing Weight:

Starting a gluten-free diet obviously results in losing weight. It happens due to eliminating all processed and junk foods that add unwanted calories to your diet. So, do focus on eating plenty of whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, and protein. Avoid consuming gluten-free products like cakes, pastries, snacks that might add a lot of calories to your diet.

  • Reduce Chronic Inflammation:

Though inflammation is a natural process that helps the body to treat and heal infections. But, sometimes it can get out of hand that stays for weeks and months, this condition is called chronic inflammation which leads to various health issues.

A gluten-free diet helps to reduce chronic inflammation with celiac disease and also helps to treat gut damage caused by gluten-related inflammation. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity also have low levels of inflammation. 

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