Impact of Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten Free Diet Recently gluten has become a topic of much interest and debate in the fields of nutrition and gastrointestinal health. Many people have adopted gluten-free diets based on doctor advice or personal choice.  Here is some important information to consider before going gluten free.

What Is Gluten and What Kind of Food Is It Found In?

Gluten is a general name for proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats.  Breads, pastas, crackers, bakery products and cereals commonly contain gluten. Even foods such as salad dressing, ice cream and ketchup may contain gluten.

Who should avoid eating gluten?

People with celiac disease (CD) should avoid gluten-containing foods.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the small intestine in response to gluten exposure.  Inflammation in the small intestine can affect absorption of essential nutrients and lead to problems such as low bone density, infertility and intestinal cancers. Patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) may experience improvement in symptoms on a gluten-free diet as well.  However, this should be discussed with a doctor before embarking on this diet.

What are symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

Symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, forgetfulness and irritability.

How can I be tested for celiac disease?

Blood tests are used to determine the presence of celiac disease antibodies. Your physician will often recommend a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

Is it healthy to eat a gluten-free diet if I don’t have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten-free does not always equate with a healthier diet.  Gluten-free diets that are high in refined grains, processed foods and low in fiber may result in weight gain and lack of essential nutrients in the diet.  It is important to speak with an expert before going gluten-free to ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet. If you think you might have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, make an appointment with Gotham Gastroenterology today.  

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