Is the Gluten-Free Diet Right for You?

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gluten-free dietIn recent years, more and more people have been embracing the gluten-free way of eating.  But how healthy is this gluten-free diet trend? And, are gluten-free products healthy for those who don’t have a gluten allergy?

Chances are you have purchased something from the gluten-free section at the supermarket, or at the very least, noticed the wide range of products available. With so many brands on the market offering gluten-free alternatives to your favorite foods, how bad can they be for you? Surely if they were considered junk food, they wouldn’t be in the health and wellness section of the store.

But here’s the truth you need to know about these products.

Just because a food is gluten-free doesn’t make it healthy. When gluten is taken out of many popular snack items such as cookies, more sugar is added in. This means some gluten-free snack foods actually contain more sugar than their original counterparts.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein made up of glutenin and gliadin molecules, which form an elastic bond in the presence of water. Wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt all contain gluten and should be avoided when on a gluten-free diet. Gluten can also hide in many processed foods under a variety of names, including malt, natural flavoring, starch, and many others.  This protein, found in wheat, barley, etc., makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream. This activates your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, weakening the body, which can lead to disease.

Some doctors dismiss a gluten-free diet as a mere fad, while others agree that it can help with a wide range of health problems. From gut dysfunction and allergies, to neurological diseases and autoimmune problems, a gluten-free diet has been documented as helping with these and many other health problems. For most people, drastically cutting down on grain-based carbs is the key to optimal health.

I suffered with years of health problems myself. Once I was diagnosed with celiac disease and cut gluten out of my diet, many of my symptoms went away. With gluten intolerance and even celiac disease being difficult to diagnose, those suffering can feel frustrated and lost when doctors fall short of diagnosing this food allergy.

Try a Gluten-Free Elimination Diet

If you have been suffering from a variety of health problems, I recommend trying an elimination diet. Take gluten out of your diet for four weeks, and see how you feel. There are few major side effects, and many people feel better on a gluten-free diet. Some research shows that even those who do not have a gluten intolerance do better without gluten in their diet. Just remember to stay away from the gluten-free junk food items. Try to stick to eating unprocessed, whole foods instead. Also, remember to always check with your doctor before starting any new diet plan, especially if you have any existing health conditions.

The Gluten-Free Diet: More Than Just a Trend

More people than ever are buying, eating, and cooking gluten-free foods, whether they require it for dietary purposes or not.  Gluten-free living seems to be growing in popularity, with surveys suggesting it appeals to about 30% of American adults.  So, whether trendy or necessary, gluten-free eating seems like it is here to stay. Why not try it out yourself and see if it makes a difference in how you feel!

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Zuckerbrot T., “Should you go gluten free?” Prevention, January 2 2013;, last accessed April 10, 2017.
Donadio, G., “Rethinking Grain-Based Carbohydrates Part II,” Huffington Post, January 7, 2012;, last accessed April, 10, 2017.