4 Valid Reasons to Go Gluten Free



Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein which is a component in many grains, including barley, wheat, rye, and the combination of the latter two which is known as triticale. Gluten can be found in all products made with the grains barley, wheat, rye and triticale, including baked goods, soups containing wheat or pasta products, pizza crust, gravy containing wheat flour as a thickening agent and salads containing wheat-based products such as pasta, croutons or barley. In short, gluten is everywhere. Many people seem to be jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon lately, in an effort to offset digestive and other issues. Proponents of the gluten free diet claim that eliminating gluten from the diet is a far healthier alternative to the standard diet most people consume, but going gluten free may not be right for everyone. Below are four medically-based reasons to exclude gluten from your diet, along with some tips on going gluten free.

4. Celiac Disease



Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in a severe inflammation in reaction to gluten. Gluten should be avoided by individuals suffering from Celiac disease. The gluten in the diet affects those individual’s ability to digest food properly, which can lead to severe medical complications and even death. For individuals with celiac disease, gluten must be eliminated entirely not only from the diet, but from household products as well, including soaps, hair care products and cleaning products.

3. Gluten Sensitivity



Gluten sensitivity, also referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals after consuming gluten. Although gluten sensitivity is not considered a severe medical condition, those with gluten sensitivity often feel better after eliminating gluten from their diets, much like those with lactose intolerance would avoid foods containing lactose. Many foods have recently been made available gluten free, including many convenience foods and restaurant menu items, making eating a gluten free diet far less complicated than in previous years.

2. Wheat Allergies



A wheat allergy is an allergy to one or more proteins found in wheat, which may or may not include gluten. If your doctor has told you that you have a wheat allergy, you will need to avoid any wheat-based products, and it’s important to note that some gluten free food products may contain other wheat proteins that you may be allergic to, even if they don’t contain gluten. Wheat allergies can be mild or severe, and you should carefully follow your doctor’s advice regarding the consumption (or, in some cases, even exposure to) any wheat-based products. This may include (but not be limited to) a gluten-free diet.

1. Doctor’s Orders



Sometimes your doctor may recommend going gluten free to see if the new diet alleviates certain symptoms, even if none of the previous conditions have been diagnosed. Experiencing gastric discomfort doesn’t not necessarily mean you should modify your diet without the input of your doctor or a nutritionist, however and putting together an alternative diet may result in causing some other type of problem or imbalance that you do not foresee. Always seek the advice of a health care professional or dietitian before making drastic dietary changes. If your doctor does recommend a gluten-free diet, ask about ways you can continue to meet your nutritional needs while avoiding gluten.

Adopting a Gluten Free Diet



Whether you suffer from celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy, or your doctor has recommended that you exclude gluten from your diet for other medical reasons, going gluten free can result in having to make special dietary arrangements prior to eating anywhere. Several big-name food manufacturers now offer gluten-free alternatives to many products, and gluten-free pasta, cereals and other foods are increasingly available in mainstream grocery stores. The downside is that most products marketed specifically to the gluten free crowd come at a much higher price than their gluten-containing counterparts. When eating at a restaurant or at someone else’s home, always be sure to mention that you prefer a gluten free alternative, and bring a snack along with you just in case. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist for more ways you can eat a balanced diet without gluten.

Kara is more than just a do-it-all writer; she's also a jetsetter who has experienced cities and cultures around the world! Find Kara on LinkedIn!

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