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The Gluten Free Craze: Does it Work?

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a blog by Marta Montenegro, January 7, 2014

Actresses, athletes, and not so famous people swear their weight loss, improved mood, joint pain relief, and any other ailment cure is the result of a gluten free diet—avoiding foods made with wheat, rye, and barley. Certainly, if you are among the 1% of the American who suffer from celiac disease (a condition in which you cannot digest gluten) you must be put on a gluten free diet. But what about the rest of us? Will going gluten-free really work as an almost one-size-fits-all type of remedy for so many health issues? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer either.

Gluten is a protein found in those grains. People without celiac disease can still experience an inflammatory response from consuming gluten (called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, NCGS). This may decrease the absorption of important nutrients while increasing oxidative stress (cell damage). So they may benefit from avoiding gluten rich foods. But what you choose as food substitute matters as much as staying gluten clear. If your first choice is to eat any of the hundreds of gluten-free products on grocery shelves, you also could consume extra sugar, fats, and other poor nutritious content that may lead to other health issues. However, gluten-free can also mean increasing more foods like veggies, fruits, beans and lentils, and gluten-free grains, all of which are high in fiber, amino-acids, magnesium, iron and other important nutrients. This option can help you lose weight as well as improve your overall health.

Nowadays, we know that behind many health problems, such as diabetes, obesity, arthritis and even some conditions that affect fertility like endometriosis, lays chronic inflammation. Thus, by avoiding gluten you may better manage these conditions. In fact, a recent study found that women who suffer from painful endometriosis symptoms and followed a gluten-free diet reported significantly less painful symptoms compared to those who did not follow the diet. (Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy.) Keep in mind that going gluten free may mean you need to supplement your diet with vitamins A, D, E, and K, iron, calcium, folic acid, and B-complex vitamins. Gluten-free takes dedication and discipline to follow. But if you have digestive issues, it could help you find welcomed relief.


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