When You Should Consider Going Gluten-Free

June 17, 2013

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Gluten-Free dietEvery day it seems like another celebrity jumps on the gluten-free bandwagon—Zooey Deschanel, Drew Brees, Lady Gaga, and Chelsea Clinton are a few to supposedly adopt this lifestyle change for various reasons.

The diet has been in the spotlight, under scrutiny for quite some time now. It’s caught the attention not only of celebrities but has received mixed reviews from medical weight loss professionals, like myself, and others in the wellness industry.

First and foremost, gluten does not make you gain weight. Gluten is simply a protein found in rye, wheat, and barley. So, pastas, cereals, baked goods, and bread contain gluten, and consuming large amounts of these foods can contribute to weight gain.

Weight loss on a gluten-free diet isn’t the result of removing gluten; it’s the result of removing fattening foods from your diet and replacing those calories with fruits and vegetables. If you were to replace those calories with gluten-free baked goods, which are becoming more available and contain just as much sugar as any gluten-containing dessert, you probably won’t see significant weight loss.

Although a gluten-free diet isn’t the long-searched-for weight loss solution, there are some good reasons to nix gluten from you diet.

You have irritable bowel syndrome: A study published in Gastroenterology found patients with severe IBS can benefit from a gluten-free diet. Twenty-eight patients with IBS were assigned a diet containing gluten or a gluten-free diet over a four-week trial period. The results showed those with a gluten-free diet had fewer bowel movements, indicating nixing the gluten from your diet may help manage uncomfortable symptoms.

You have gluten sensitivity: Gluten sensitivity is difficult to diagnose because it shares common symptoms with many other health issues. The current laboratory tests may miss many people that actually do have gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity can also be confused with IBS. Stomach aches, gas, bloating, fatigue, headaches, and migraines may indicate a gluten sensitivity. For unknown reasons, it appears more people are developing gluten intolerance. Some speculate that it’s the result of being exposed to ultra-clean environments as children, hindering the development of our immune systems. The best way to determine if you have gluten sensitivity is to eliminate gluten from your diet for two to four weeks to see if your symptoms improve. If they do, then you probably do suffer from gluten sensitivity.

You have celiac disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune, inherited condition. It can cause a variety of wide-ranging conditions, from anemia to osteoporosis to migraines. Over time, eating foods that contain gluten damage the small intestine’s lining. There is no cure for celiac disease, but it can be managed with a strict gluten-free diet.

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