What is Gluten and Should I be on a Gluten-Free Diet?

by Wendy on September 25, 2015

Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. To people with a chronic digestive disorder called celiac disease, gluten causes an immune response which damages the small intestine. This causes both gastrointestinal distress and nutritional deficiencies.

GlutenAnother problem emerging is non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity can lead to symptoms similar to celiac disease such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloating, but doesn’t damage the intestine.

 

Signs of Sensitivity to Gluten

More than 2.5 million people may have celiac disease and relatively few have been diagnosed. The symptoms of celiac disease can overlap with other medical problems, so it can be difficult to diagnose. Celiac disease has hundreds of symptoms, here are some common problems:

  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility

If you think you may have gluten sensitivity, speak with your doctor before eliminating foods. A gluten-free diet is the only treatment, but you should be tested by your doctor to rule out other forms of intestinal inflammation before changing your diet.

 

Should YOU Go Gluten-Free?

The answer is obviously YES, if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. But if you want to just try a gluten-free diet, it can be a huge hassle. Gluten is added to many things that you would not expect making it difficult to avoid.

Besides the hassle, you can end up with serious nutritional deficiencies. If you do decide to start a gluten-free diet, focus on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and gluten free grains like amaranth and quinoa.

 

Steps to a Gluten-Free Diet

Clean Out Your Kitchen

Go through your fridge, freezer, and cabinets and donate or give friends all of the items you can no longer eat.

 

Start With Fresh Produce and Meats

Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t contain gluten, nor do fresh meat, poultry and fish. Eat simply using only fresh herbs and salt and pepper to season foods.

 

Expand to Include Gluten-Free Labeled Products

Foods clearly labeled “gluten-free” represent the best way to start expanding your gluten-free diet. Learn to read food labels or download one of the gluten-free apps to help guide you through the grocery store or if you are eating out, help guide you to the nearest gluten-free restaurant.

 

BYOF

Bring your own food when going out to eat or when you eat at someone’s house.

 

Here is a list of some gluten-free choices:

  • Fruits and vegetables including frozen and canned
  • Fresh meats and fish, some pre-packaged products, such as hams, bacon, sausages and lunch meats, may or may not contain gluten
  • Milk and dairy products including: fresh milk, butter, plain yogurt, fresh eggs, and many cheeses
  • Foods labeled gluten-free, try online stores for a better selection
  • Unflavored coffee, green tea, and 100% fruit juice

 

Tips

  • Try different varieties of gluten-free bread mixes, gluten-free muffin mixes, gluten-free pizza crust mixes, gluten-free cake mixes, gluten-free cookie mixes. You can experiment to find your favorite and you won’t feel deprived of your favorite foods!
  • Join a gluten-free support group to get recipes, advice, and support.
  • Search for gluten-free food blogs for great recipe ideas.
Wendy

Wendy

Health Contributor at Creative Bioscience
My name is Wendy and I'm one of the main contributors to our blog. I'm a retired elementary school teacher who's found a new passion for all things relating to health and wellness. If you feel like your body is not in the place it should be, join the club! We're here to help get you where you want to be in a long term way, and avoiding any extreme diets in the process. We believe in natural sustainable methods to reach a state of homeostasis. We want to get our body, spirit, and soul into prime shape and really start loving ourselves! Wendy's favorite product is Raspberry Ketone 1234
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