About one percent of the population is diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is digested. Meaning that those diagnosed with celiac disease go on a gluten-free diet so they can avoid symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, skin rashes, fatigue and diarrhea. Though over 18 million people have found that they have a gluten sensitivity, they don't have to completely avoid gluten. Many gluten-sensitive people choose to avoid gluten altogether, however, because eating too much of it can cause similar symptoms of celiac disease that aren't as severe.
Celiac disease is a relatively new disease, so diagnosing a gluten sensitivity is difficult because doctors don't have a surefire test. To diagnose celiac disease, all you need is a blood test. The only way to avoid the symptoms is to go on a gluten-free diet.
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Over the years, many celebrities have latched onto the gluten-free diet because it can bring about weight loss and more energy. Ever since then, the gluten-free diet has become more popular. Over 28 percent of people have decided they wanted to cut gluten from their diet! The gluten-free diet that was intended to help people with celiac disease is now a fad. The plus side is that the popular diet has given people with celiac disease more gluten-free food options to choose from! Still, with every fad diet, you should research the negative and positive side effects. (via Daily Beast)
Many doctors have written papers, performed studies and have discussed the pros and cons of going on a gluten-free diet. Their studies have shown how going gluten-free can potentially lead to increased bad bacteria and decreased beneficial bacteria, cause eating disorders and put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies. The only con of a gluten-free diet that can be proven, however, is the decrease in nutrients. (via UW Health)
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Gluten-free diets can be difficult to maintain because there are so many foods that contain gluten! It's a protein that can be found in wheat, rye and barley. A lot of the whole grains that have gluten in them are also filled with the nutrients you need. If you do go gluten free, you're at risk of becoming deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamin, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc. An alternative to avoiding gluten and still getting some of your nutrients is eating a gluten-free whole grain like buckwheat or quinoa.
When you avoid gluten, you end up avoiding fast food, pasta, breads, cereals, processed foods, desserts and junk food. Then you replace it with fruits, vegetables and other healthier options. One of the major changes that people can see when they start this diet is weight loss but it may actually be a side effect of eating healthier rather than avoiding gluten! Any doctor would tell you that eating less processed foods and more vegetables will lead to weight loss and be good for you. The addition of fruits and vegetables to your diet also gives you the extra energy that you didn't have before. (via Web MD)
>> Read more: Your Gluten-Free Basic Guide to Food
There are always going to be pros and cons to any diet! If you do decide to go on a gluten-free diet, it's safe to say that talking to a registered nutritionist would be best. They can help you come up with a meal plan on how to avoid gluten and still get all your necessary nutritions!