With the changing weather and seasons, people are feeling more motivated to try to cut out certain food groups and types of foods. Gluten is one of them that tends to have a bad rep. Gluten is a type of protein that is found in grain products (wheat, rye, barley etc.) and provides dough with a glue-like, sticky consistency. Today, we’ll be discussing the gluten-free diet and who should be on it.
Starting with those that should not eat gluten:
- People with Celiac disease:
- Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. This means that when people with celiac disease ingest foods with gluten, their immune system will sense gluten as a foreign object and attack the gluten and the lining of the digestive system organs.
- Symptoms experienced by those with celiac disease: Digestive issues (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain etc.), rashes, unintended weight loss
- To find out whether a person has celiac disease, talk to a health professional such as your doctor, and blood tests will likely be done to confirm the results
People who may benefit from a gluten-free diet:
- People with IBS:
- Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive syndrome that can cause discomfort after eating
- Some studies have shown that people with IBS may feel less symptoms that are commonly associated with IBS (bloating, gas, diarrhea)
If you’re going on a gluten-free diet:
- Do not go on a gluten-free diet if you suspect you have celiac, see a doctor first to get a conclusive diagnosis
- Ensure that gluten-free foods you pick are varied foods:
- Lean meats
- Low-fat dairy products
- Vegetables and fruits
- Gluten-free grain products
- Healthy fats
- Try to avoid eating gluten-free commercial products, as they are often higher in carbohydrates, fats, sugars and salts than non-gluten-free products
- Be aware that gluten-free foods are often lower in B-vitamins due to fortification standards in wheat products here in Canada
All in all, the gluten-free diet should not be used as a weight loss tactic. Rather, if you want to go on a gluten-free diet, do it because it makes you feel good. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a dietitian for more tips and advice.