A gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale. This diet is primarily used to treat those suffering from celiac disease. Gluten causes inflammation of the small intestines of those who suffer from celiac disease. Avoiding gluten in their food allows people with celiac to control their symptoms and prevent complications. Many people who do not suffer from celiac disease have also tried the gluten free diet because they find that it promotes weight-loss by avoiding food that are heavy in calories.
Types of Gluten-free Diets
There are many different variations of gluten free diets depending on if a person suffers from celiac disease or is simply just dieting. If a person switches to a completely gluten free diet there will be a big change and one may feel quite deprived. It is important to note that many foods that used to contain gluten are now made gluten free, including bread and paste. Specialty grocery stores also sell many gluten free foods, allowing for variety back in one’s diet. It is important to seek medical advice from a dietician if you are diagnosed with celiac disease so that you know what foods to avoid in order to prevent symptoms. Many foods are naturally gluten free including beans, seeds, unprocessed nuts, eggs, meats, fish and poultry, fruits, vegetables and many dairy products. Food and drinks containing barley, rye, triticale and wheat should be avoided entirely. Unless the following are labeled as gluten free the following should be avoided including beer, bread, cake, cereal, candies, cookies, French fries, pastas, salad dressings, imitation meat or seafood, chips, sauced vegetables and soup. There are other foods and drinks that need to be avoided because they too may be cross contaminated or certain ingredients may be labeled differently. Cross contamination can occur simply through preparing food on the same surfaces as food that contains gluten, so always clean your cooking surfaces.
Health Factors of Gluten-free Diets
A gluten-free diet is a great way for people with celiac disease to experience fewer symptoms of the disease. People suffering from celiac disease should eat a strictly gluten-free diet in order to prevent health complications in the future. Sometimes a gluten-free diet cannot eliminate symptoms of celiac disease entirely and medications must be taken in order to suppress the immune system. People who follow a strict gluten-free diet may have lower levels of certain vitamins and nutrients. It is important to have key nutrients in one’s diet including iron, fiber, calcium, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin. If these nutrients are missing a multi-vitamin or supplement may need to be added to one’s diet.
Costs Associated with Gluten-free Diets
Gluten-free diets may seem challenging and limiting, but there are new products being added to the gluten-free line up. These foods that are created especially for those on gluten-free diets may be more expensive, but are worth it because they allow variety back in one’s life. Those on gluten-free diets may also have to take supplements and vitamins which can be more costly.