Healthy Moment – The Gluten-Free Diet

The gluten-free diet is appropriate for some
populations, but may not be appropriate for everyone and
it’s important for you to understand where you fall in that
spectrum. Let’s start with gluten itself. Gluten is
a protein found in three kinds of grains: wheat, rye and barley. Foods that contain these grains, such as white or wheat bread and all-purpose flour, also contain gluten. Gluten is actually what gives kneaded bread
dough its stretchy texture and allows bread dough to rise and
create air pockets. In fact, wheat is the most popular grain for
bakers because of the airiness and pleasant texture the gluten
creates. If you don’t know if a product contains
wheat, rye or barley, look on the Food Label under the Ingredients List. Unfortunately, some people’s bodies don’t
react well to gluten. Celiac disease is a disease that affects individuals who are allergic to the gluten protein. Individuals
diagnosed with celiac disease must consume a gluten-free
diet to prevent severe consequences like diarrhea, inflammation, cramping or shock. Other people may have gluten intolerance and experience uncomfortable or painful side effects after
consuming gluten. As a result, many individuals with gluten
intolerance avoid gluten to prevent these side effects. If you
have a gluten intolerance, it is advised that you limit
consumption of gluten-containing foods. If you do not have celiac disease or gluten
intolerance, there is absolutely no reason why you should
avoid gluten. The gluten-free diet has become a diet popularized by celebrities and the media for its weight-loss
benefits. Most individuals lose weight on a gluten-free
diet because they eliminate high calorie gluten-containing
foods from their diet like baked goods, fast foods and
processed foods. It’s important to remember that it’s not
necessarily being gluten-free that is helping them lose weight,
but a reduced calorie intake and likely the consumption
of healthier, less processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy foods
and leaner meats. If you don’t have to follow a gluten-free
diet, there’s no reason to do so. You can enjoy gluten-containing foods
and maintain a healthy weight. Grains such as wheat, rye and barley can
be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Grains, especially whole grains, provide nutrients that play an important role in energy levels, a healthy
digestive tract, and many other functions in the body. The US Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making one quarter of your plate grains and at least
half of your total grain intake from whole grain foods. If you believe you may have a gluten allergy
or intolerance, talk to your primary care physician or a registered dietitian.

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