Re-examining the Gluten-Free Diet and Your Well-Being

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A helpful book on Celiac Disease, by Peter H.R. Green and Rory Jones

As I’ve previously posted, gluten-free diets are becoming ever so popular for a variety of reasons.  While going gluten-free may not decrease your pants size, it can definitely help when it comes to digestive issues and other health issues that can affect daily life. My previous post on going gluten-free was geared towards those who are confused about whether the diet is going to help you lose weight. My answer remains the same—it really depends on how many calories you’re taking in and whether you actually have a gluten intolerance.

If stomach aches and digestive issues are a frequent complaint, you might want to look into what foods specifically are causing these symptoms. While I don’t think gluten is the cause of all stomach/intestine pain, it seems to be a major contributor. In addition, gluten does seem to affect certain populations more than others. Particularly, those with autoimmune disorders, or family members of someone with an autoimmune disorder. Why is this? Because Celiac Disease (a serious gluten-intolerance, with many symptoms) is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s own immune system attacks itself. Scary Stuff!

Other autoimmune disorders/diseases associated with Celiac Disease (and thus, gluten intolerance) are thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s Disease and Graves’ Disease), and Type 1 Diabetes, among other less-common autoimmune diseases. Individuals with either thyroid abnormalities and/or Type 1 Diabetes, should get tested for Celiac Disease, and even after testing, it never hurts to experiment with eliminating something from your diet that causes any negative symptoms.  My sister, (who has Type 1 diabetes) has noted several positive effects of the gluten-free diet, some of which include increased energy, decrease in stomach and back pain, easier digestion and defecation, and that it’s easier to manage blood sugar levels.

If you are curious about going gluten-free for health reasons, keep track of your current health complaints and see if gluten could be the culprit. The easiest way to become gluten-free is to eliminate all processed food except for gluten-free grains (rice, corn, buckwheat, and a few others). A diet based on whole foods such as fruits, veggies, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats will benefit you even if you aren’t diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Check back soon, as I’ll be posting a sample meal plan for a day of gluten-free eating!

Stay well.

-Jess

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