The popularity of going gluten free grows daily and it’s impossible not to notice the variety of gluten free foods at the grocery store and on restaurant menus. If you do not have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, but are curious about the benefits of a gluten free diet, read on. We’ll answer the question ‘is gluten bad for you’ and discuss give you tips on choosing to eat a gluten free diet.
Going Gluten Free to Manage Symptoms of Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance
You may already know that people with Celiac Disease must eat gluten free to manage and treat their symptoms (read more about Celiac Disease here). But many people who do not have Celiac Disease may have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, with symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, stomach pain or bloating appearing after they eat foods with gluten. It’s also possible that wheat allergies and irritable bowel syndrome can cause similar symptoms after eating foods with gluten. For folks with health conditions like these, gluten is bad and removing gluten from their diet is necessary to improve how they feel every day.
Going Gluten Free as a Lifestyle Choice
You probably have a few friends who have gone gluten free for the sole reason of improved health, weight loss and increased energy. Many celebrities have done the same and tout the detox effects of going gluten free. Gluten is not bad for these people, and avoiding gluten is unnecessary for them. But it can be true that going gluten free could make many of us feel better. How can that be? Because the presence or absence of gluten alone is not related to diet quality. If a person whose diet contains large amounts of breads, pastas, and pastries (especially those made from refined flours) switches to a gluten free diet which eliminates these highly processed foods while increasing more natural foods like fruits and vegetables or protein-rich grains like quinoa, the resulting diet would be healthier, and therefore, make them feel better.
If you have made the choice to begin the path to going gluten free, your first step should be to have a conversation with your doctor or nutritionist to make sure you are still getting the proper amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals. They will most likely remind you to replace what you eliminate from your diet; meaning if you remove wheat, you must add a naturally gluten free grain like quinoa or rice. You will need to focus your new diet on the wide variety of naturally gluten free foods available like fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and eggs. As time goes by, you will find that you feel better simply from eating more of these fresh or natural foods, not because you have a gluten sensitivity.
What to do if you still Think Gluten is the Culprit
However, if you do think gluten is the culprit to any symptoms you are experiencing you should consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before giving up gluten. This is very important because the standard blood test to detect Celiac Disease is not useful unless gluten has been consumed for a long period of time prior to testing. It is also important to rule out any other possible causes for your symptoms.
Regardless if you’re medically required to, or simply prefer a gluten free diet, there are many gluten free food options to choose from at the grocery store today. To make the most of your gluten free diet, it’s important to choose products that use more natural and real ingredients!