Some Pros and Cons of a Gluten Free Diet

The Benefits of a Gluten-free Diet

If you are a celiac sufferer, the benefits of going gluten-free are obvious. You get to alleviate some serious side effects to gluten including saving the lining of your small intestine from being under constant attack. Gas, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea is side effects of gluten intolerance, as well.

If you are not a celiac sufferer, but instead are seeking the benefits of going gluten-free for the simple reason that it is the talk of town, you can still find many benefits from this change in diet. They include, but are not limited to:

  1. Mental clarity may be a benefit. After removing gluten from their diets, many      individuals report having more mental clarity. These individuals say that      after months or years of “being in a fog” that the fog dissipates for them      after being on a gluten-free diet. They also suggest that their memory      loss and forgetfulness seem improves.
  2. Fatigue seems to decrease.      Consumers of a gluten-free diet may find that his or her issues with sleep      will improve once they remove gluten from their dietary intake. A better      night’s sleep and feeling less drowsy during the day may be good enough      reasons for the sleep deprived to give the gluten-free lifestyle a try.
  3. Maintaining weight is a desired goal. Losing weight and maintaining the weight      loss is a desired goal for millions of people. Many people report that      they were finally able to lose weight and keep it off after they changed      their diet to be gluten-free.
  4. Gluten could be life threatening. While mental clarity, fatigue and weight loss are      all good reasons to give this diet a try, if you have celiac disease, going      gluten-free can save your life.

For celiac suffers, even a tiny amount may have an adverse effect on the body. It can cause iron deficiency and anemia as well as Osteoporosis. Gluten can also set off a very serious reaction for some folks, including anaphylactic shock which can be fatal.

While many other individuals praise the fact that they are on gluten-free diets and tout benefits such as an overall feeling of well-being, energy increase, and alertness, none of these attributes have been conclusive in persons with only a small sensitivity to gluten.

For all of the good that a gluten-free diet does, it isn’t without its faults.

The Downfalls of a Gluten-free Lifestyle

Whole grains and wheat products have been a staple for the human diet for ages, and with good reason. By opting for a gluten-free lifestyle you might be unnecessarily eliminating vital nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Four such nutrients include:

Niacin – Niacin helps to keep your skin, hair and eyes healthy. It assists with maintaining a healthy nervous and digestive system. Niacin also helps convert carbohydrate into energy which is important if part of your goal for a gluten-free diet is to lose weight.

Iron – Iron has so many important jobs in our body. It carries oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide from them. It helps produce energy and hormones. Iron even plays a role in fighting against infections.

Vitamin B – Vitamin B has many parts and each part provides its own set of benefits. Generally speaking vitamin B is instrumental in maintaining a healthy immune & nervous system.

Zinc – Zinc may not be something you think about often, but its job is as important as any other nutrient. Zinc assists our immune system with responding to threats. It also plays a role in brain function and reproduction.
If you choose to seek out a gluten-free diet, you should consult with your primary care doctor before taking on this new lifestyle. In addition, you should be prepared to take a daily supplement to make up for any lost nutrients.

Nutrients may not be the only thing lacking in a gluten-free diet. Many people complain about the lack of variety available and taste in gluten-free foods. Gluten-free products definitely have a distinct taste and once you have eaten a certain variety of pasta for several years, you may never get used to the gluten-free kind.

Cost is another downside to this diet. Gluten-free products are very costly. Although you may be able to find gluten-free products on the shelves of supermarkets, they will still typically be expensive, especially while gluten-free continues to be the ‘in fad’ in the eyes of consumers.

Be prepared to become a label reading guru if you choose to go gluten-free. Gluten is found in many unsuspecting foods such as spaghetti sauce, soy sauce, and in some packaged products, as well. You will need to extremely wary of labels and plan to spend extra time shopping, at least in the beginning stages, if you are going totally gluten-free.

Cooking at home is less expensive than purchasing prepared products; however, this can be time consuming and cumbersome. You can certainly buy gluten-free pancake mixes, muffin mixes, cake mixes, and bread mixes, but be prepared for a little bit of mess and some extra time involved in preparing your own gluten-free menus, especially if you start from scratch.

Dining out, eating at another person’s home and vacationing can all be extremely difficult while trying to maintain the gluten-free lifestyle. You will need to make certain that your wait staff, hotel staff, and hosts are all aware of your lifestyle choices. If they won’t indulge you, you may have to skip the event or prepare your own meal ahead of time and take it with you.

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Going Gluten-free: A New Trend or a Smart Choice?

Not long ago, the term “gluten-free” was thought to only be for those who suffered serious health issues in regard to gluten intolerances. Today, however, many individuals are choosing to live a gluten-free life.

There are many reasons people will opt for a gluten-free diet. Some are more obvious than others and include:

  • Celiac disease
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Wheat allergies
  • Inflammatory processes
  • Personal choice

Celiac Disease

When particles of gluten bond with intestinal proteins and generate a hypersensitive overreaction from white blood cells, celiac disease can develop. The small intestine plays an integral role in this process as they are designed to absorb nutrients. With Celiac Disease, however, the small intestines cannot do their job properly because the body’s white blood cells incorrectly identify the gluten bond particles as an enemy and therefore set out to destroy the lining of the small intestine.

Some of the symptoms of celiac disease are associated with other diseases though so blood tests are typically necessary to properly diagnose the problem. Some of those symptoms you may experience with Celiac Disease are as follows:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Gluten Intolerance

Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Many individuals have opted to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle because someone that they know has touted the benefits from doing so. For most individuals, there are no real cut and dry answers as to whether he or she may have intolerance to gluten. Blood work along with an endoscopic biopsy of the small intestine will determine if the patient has celiac disease, however, there is not much in the way scientifically to report whether a person has gluten intolerance.

Many individuals claim to simply feel better when not eating products that contain gluten. These people state that living a gluten-free lifestyle simply leaves them feeling more energized, less bloated, and with clearer thinking capacities.

Wheat Allergies

Wheat allergies, however, are another story. An allergy, unlike intolerance, caused by gluten is a serious subject. When an antibody to wheat is produced, also known as an IgE, many allergic reactions will occur:

  • Hives
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itchy eyes, nose, throat
  • Cramping
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • And in worse case scenarios, anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis can cause many serious side effects such as:

  • trouble swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • tightening of the throat
  • an accelerated heart beat

Thankfully, these are the extreme cases.

Inflammatory Process

While there is no concrete evidence either medically or scientifically that going gluten-free is necessary for inflammation to decrease, many individuals who stick to a gluten-free diet believe that it does help.

Some individuals tout the benefits of being gluten-free as having more energy and feeling less bloated; but research does not support this as of yet.

Personal Choice

For those with true celiac disease, it must be hard to comprehend why anyone who did not have to would go on a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free products are extremely costly and definitely do taste differently.

Having said that, individuals become gluten-free for many reasons:

  1. According to celebrities in the media, it is all the rage right now. Some individuals want to be trendy and follow those trends regardless of the reasoning.
  2. Other consumers of gluten-free products say that they feel differently when eating a strictly gluten-free diet. Benefits such as more energy, less bloating, better memory are just a few of the claims made by individuals for going gluten-free.
  3. Losing weight is a big motivator. Some individuals have pronounced the most positive effect of going gluten-free is the ability to lose weight and keep it off.
  4. Avoiding things such as gas, bloating, cramping, and fatigue are a big bonus, as well.
  5. Gaining more mental clarity is something that most everyone both male and female would appreciate obtaining.

For many consumers, eating a diet without gluten simply makes them feel better, whether or not they are reaping any scientifically proven benefits and rewards

To avoid feeling the dreaded bloating often associated with eating gluten-filled foods, people may choose to go gluten-free. Bloat is something everyone experiences, some more than others. Women tend to get hit doubly during their menstrual cycle. So if there is even a slim chance to alleviate some of the gluten related bloating, many will be happy to give a gluten-free diet a try.

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Is Gluten Free For You?

As I discussed in my last post, there is a great deal of conversation about whether people who don’t have health problems associated with gluten ingestion should eliminate gluten from their diets. Here are some other perspectives:

Gluten-free diets: a fad or healthy choice?
Regina Leader-Post, on Tue, 18 Jun 2013 08:18:47 -0700
From left, Karin and Lianne operate the bread slicer. Totally Gluten Free Bakery and Caf» in Lacombe, believed to be the only totally gluten free bakery and cafe in Alberta. People come from all over province to buy their product. The business is run

 

Will a gluten-free diet improve your health? - CNN.Will a gluten-free diet improve your health? – CNN.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/12/gluten.free.diet.improve/index.html

 

Benefits of a Gluten Free DietBenefits of a Gluten Free Diet
http://longevityconnect.org/benefits-of-a-gluten-free-diet/

 

Adapting to Life Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-FreeAdapting to Life Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free
www.glutenfreeliving.ca Author, Victoria Yeh, discusses how to adapt to multiple food allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy and sugar. Video courtesy Rogers TV D…

 There is so much information out there now, certainly as compared to just a few years ago, that this whole issue can make your head spin. My advice: learn as much as you can, consult with your doctor, and pay attention to your body.

 

Livng Gluten Free

It seems in the last few years the world has exploded with information about gluten. It’s become a catch-word for all kinds of good and bad information, good and bad diet advice, and, sometimes it seems, a general hysteria about the bad effects of a diet that includes wheat or other glutens in one’s diet.

Wheat allergies are real, the most extreme being celiac disease. For suffers of this disease, the ingestion of any type of gluten has severe and harmful affects, from a mild intestinal distress, to full-on physical illness, and it can interfere with or even prevent the ability of the body to absorb nutrients from the food being digested. Some consequences for celiac-afflicted people can include anemia, osteoporosis, migraine headaches, thyroid disease, and type 1 diabetes. There is some evidence that eliminating gluten can be of some benefit in lessening the symptoms of autism.

Whatever the reason for eliminating gluten from your diet, it is a challenge, albeit less so that even a few years ago. You have to be diligent in everything having to do with what you eat. That means carefully reading labels on everything you buy at the grocers that isn’t fresh. You have to interrogate waiters at the restaurants where you dine. And you must make everyone around you preparing your food (for instance, your host when you’re invited to a dinner party) aware of your allergy. This education alone can be quite intimidating!

A very bright spot, however, is the increased awareness of gluten allergies by food purveyors, food manufacturers, and restaurants. The numbers of gluten free food preparations are increasing dramatically, although you will still pay a premium for it. And there are any number of national – and even local – restaurants who offer gluten free menu options, although you may still need to do some close questioning. For example, while french fries may seem to be a safe choice, if there are foods being cooked in the deep fryer that are breaded, the oil is contaminated. Not every cook understands this distinction.

I’m hoping to add some information to your quest to live gluten free, so please check back often. In the meantime, here are some interesting articles I’ve found.

Can a Gluten-free Diet Reduce Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Celiac.com, on Fri, 14 Jun 2013 00:08:27 -0700
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden’s Ferry Celiac.com 06/14/2013 – A team of researchers recently conducted a

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