Being Gluten Free.

#GlutenFree, we seem to see it everywhere and eating foods without gluten is a frequent trending topic. We find that not only those with actual gluten intolerance (or celiac disease) are avoiding gluten, but also many other people. A sense of well-being, weight loss, and bursts of energy are all claims that people have made while enjoying a gluten-free diet.

So what is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in foods that contain wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease consume gluten, their body creates an immune response that attacks the small intestines and the lining of the small intestine called villi. Villi are small fingerlike projections, that when damaged can no longer properly absorb nutrients into the body. Many Americans are affected by celiac disease and may not even know it. Celiac disease can be characterized by many vague symptoms that are also symptoms of other conditions. For example, bloating, gases, stomach aches, fatigue, weight loss and muscle cramps.

There is currently no screening test for gluten intolerance and the challenge is that many Americans are self-treating themselves by introducing a gluten-free diet into their lives. While this can be great if the change in diet makes the person feel better, it can also be impossible to detect whether they are actually gluten intolerant or not. To properly diagnose celiac disease, one must consume gluten to detect if damage is being made in the small intestine. Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to problems later in life such as bone fractures, intestinal damage, chronic fatigue and even infertility.

Despite popular belief, a gluten-free diet isn’t always necessarily a better diet as some people tend to gain weight on a gluten-free diet. So who should adopt this diet?

There are some groups of people who may be at a higher risk of having celiac disease and medical professionals recommend that these people make it a priority to get tested. These high-risk groups include people with a family history of celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, anemia, chronic bloating, mouth ulcers, chronic headaches, or fatigue.

Are there any benefits to a gluten-free diet?

A gluten-free diet may sometimes be used to treat some medical conditions. One of these conditions is Lyme disease, though the link between the two is not well-established. A gluten-free diet may be beneficial to a patient with Lyme disease because it is said that this type of diet helps with the symptoms of Lyme disease, such as fever, chills, body aches, joint swelling and pain and chronic fatigue. However, not all Lyme disease patients will respond well to this change in diet. It is said that some Lyme disease patients may benefit from the gluten-free diet simply because they are eating less processed grains and carbohydrates that aid in any blood sugar issues they have. Lyme disease can also cause inflammation, as does gluten, so avoiding gluten when you already have increased inflammation from Lyme disease may be beneficial. What changes have being on a gluten-free diet done for you? Join our discussion on

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