Going gluten-free has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to follow a gluten-free diet. While some people choose this diet for weight loss or other health reasons, it's essential to understand that a gluten-free diet is a medical necessity for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains. It gives bread and other baked goods their texture and elasticity. However, for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and fatigue.
What is a gluten-free diet?
A gluten-free diet means it excludes all gluten-containing foods. You'll have to exclude grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. It also excludes processed foods that contain gluten, such as bread, pasta, cereals, and many baked goods.
It's essential to note that a gluten-free diet is not necessarily a healthier diet. Gluten-free products can be highly processed, high in sugar and fat, and low in fiber and nutrients. It's important to choose whole, nutrient-dense foods to ensure that you are intaking all the nutrients you need.
What makes some people avoid gluten?
In restaurants, people can ask if certain foods are gluten-free or if there are other options. These questions are frequently used for purposes other than preference. Those who have wheat allergies, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease avoid gluten.
Celiac disease affects around 1% of the worldwide population. The body misidentifies gluten as a danger and overreacts by attacking the gluten proteins in this condition. The assault can cause damage to places such as the gut wall, resulting in vitamin deficits and severe digestive difficulties.
Diarrhea and constipation are major celiac disease symptoms. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity occurs when a person does not have celiac disease or a wheat allergy but has pain after ingesting gluten. Stomachache, bloating, bowel movement changes, weariness, and skin rashes are also common symptoms.
Wheat allergies are allergic reactions that arise in response to wheat proteins. It can cause hives, headaches, breathing difficulties, and congestion.
Who should eat a gluten-free diet?
People with celiac disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune response to gluten that causes the body to attack the small intestine, resulting in stomach pain, nausea, bloating, or diarrhea. Celiac disease patients cannot tolerate gluten in any form and must stick to a gluten-free diet for the rest of their life. If you have celiac disease and mistakenly consume gluten, you will most likely have the same symptoms as before you went gluten-free.
People with gluten sensitivity
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, often known as gluten intolerance, is another ailment that may cause someone to avoid gluten. If gluten is the cause of your sensitivity, you may see symptoms such as:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Stomach pain
People who are allergic to wheat
Individuals with a wheat allergy should avoid some gluten-containing foods, but not because of the gluten. Wheat causes an immunological response in their bodies, which can result in symptoms such as skin rash, headache, or sneezing. Individuals can still consume gluten in other grains, such as barley and rye.
Can going gluten-free assist you in losing weight?
If you do not have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, going gluten-free may not necessarily help you lose weight. Gluten-free products are often highly processed and may contain more sugar, fat, and calories than their gluten-containing counterparts. It means that if you switch to a gluten-free diet without making any other changes to your eating habits, you may not see any weight loss or may even gain weight.
The key to losing weight is to build a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn. It can be accomplished by a well-balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, along with regular exercise.
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How can you get started on a gluten-free diet?
If you want to try a gluten-free diet talk to your physician or a nutritionist. They can guide you toward a well-balanced eating plan that suits your nutritional requirements.
- Learn about gluten: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and it can cause a range of health problems for people who are sensitive or intolerant to it. It's essential to learn which foods contain gluten so you can avoid them.
- Familiarize yourself with gluten-free foods: There are many gluten-free alternatives to common foods that contain gluten, such as bread, pasta, and cereal. Familiarize yourself with these alternatives so you can easily substitute them for gluten-containing foods.
- Read food labels: When grocery shopping, read food labels carefully to ensure that the products you buy are gluten-free. Look for foods that are labeled "gluten-free" or that have a certification from a reputable gluten-free organization.
- Be aware of cross-contamination: Even if a food is naturally gluten-free, it can become contaminated with gluten if it's prepared in a kitchen that prepares gluten-containing foods. Be aware of cross-contamination and avoid it, such as using separate cooking utensils and cleaning surfaces thoroughly.
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If you have celiac disease, consider the following dietary changes:
- Check packages for any warnings. Many gluten-free items may have been processed in the same facility as gluten-containing products.
- Dishes, cooking utensils, and other food preparation supplies used for gluten-containing foods should be kept separate from those used for gluten-free foods.
- Carefully read ingredient labels to look for any residues of wheat. Moreover, some flavors and artificial colors include gluten.
- When baking and cooking, switch out wheat flour with oat, buckwheat, quinoa, or other gluten-free or alternative grain flour.
Those with celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy. While it can be challenging to follow, with a little planning and preparation, it's possible to maintain a balanced and healthy diet on gluten-free diet. If you're considering a gluten-free diet, be sure to speak with a healthcare professional to ensure that you're meeting your nutritional needs.