Gluten-Free Diet Guide: Gluten-Free Foods, Benefits & More

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Posted on: September 27, 2015

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Gluten-free diet - Dr. Axe

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

In just the last few years alone, the gluten-free diet has skyrocketed in popularity. In fact, it seems like just about everyone is avoiding gluten — regardless of whether or not they really need to.

Gluten-free foods have become synonymous with healthy eating, right alongside all things sugar-free, dairy-free and low-carb. But what is gluten, why is gluten bad and do you really need to take it out of your diet?

For some, cutting gluten out of the diet can come with big benefits when it comes to health. A gluten-free diet, much like a gluten-sensitivity diet, could amp up fat burning, provide a burst of extra energy, reduce inflammation, and ease digestive symptoms like gas, bloating or diarrhea. For others, going gluten-free could even be the key to reducing behavioral issues and improving symptoms of autism and irritable bowel syndrome.

Gluten is found in many food sources, and there are foods with gluten that you might not suspect. While adopting a gluten-free diet sounds like it may be a daunting task, it certainly doesn’t have to be. By incorporating a few gluten-free foods into your diet, it can be simple to reap the rewards of a gluten-free diet.


What Is Gluten and How Do You Keep It Out of Your Diet?

Before discussing whether or not a gluten-free diet is right for you, it’s important to understand what is gluten and what is gluten-free.

Gluten is a type of protein found in grains, such as wheat, barley and rye, that is responsible for giving foods elasticity and providing a chewy texture. It is also often added to other foods to modify the stability and structure of products, such as salad dressings, condiments and deli meats.

Many people have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, which can cause a slew of negative side effects when gluten is consumed from digestive issues to mood changes.

Some people also have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition. When people with celiac disease eat foods with gluten, it triggers an immune response that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. This can cause malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies, along with celiac disease symptoms like diarrhea, malnutrition, skin rashes and fatigue.

Although gluten sensitivities were once considered obscure, it is now estimated that gluten-related disorders could affect a whopping 10 percent of Americans. (1)

Cutting gluten out of your diet can be a challenge because it is widespread throughout the food supply. Oats, for instance, don’t contain gluten naturally. But do oats have gluten when you buy them from the store? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so clear-cut. In fact, due to cross-contamination, many foods — including oats — do contain a small amount of gluten, which can cause serious problems for those with a sensitivity or intolerance.

However, for those who are sensitive to gluten, following a gluten-free diet benefits many aspects of health. Research has continued to unearth many potential...


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