Gluten is the protein found in barley, wheat, and rye which can cause an adverse reaction to individuals with gluten-related disorders. A gluten-free diet is thus one in which any foods; ingredients or grains derived from rye, wheat or barley are removed from the diet.
Ingredients or grains derived from rye, wheat or barley includes bread, baked goods, and pasta made from gluten and also salad dressings, soups, processed foods and sauces that can contain small ingredients of gluten.
There are several misconceptions about a gluten-free diet. The main one is that a gluten-free diet is a way to lose weight and is healthier than other foods. There are very few food choices for a gluten-free diet making it difficult to base a weight loss plan solely on this diet.
It is important to state that the gluten-free diet is beneficial to individuals suffering from gluten-related disorders such as gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. There is no supporting evidence that a gluten-free diet is beneficial for people without gluten-related disorders. There is also no evidence that gluten avoidance boosts energy levels, enhances attention span or improves digestion.
• A quality diet cannot be measured by the presence or absence of gluten. The overall food choices made regarding diet is what determines a healthy diet.
• Switching from a diet that contains large amounts of pasta, bread, and cookies to a gluten-free diet that eliminates these foods and coupled with an increase in fruits and vegetables make the overall diet healthier.
• A substitute for gluten-free foods with no corresponding intake in fruits and vegetables could lower the quality of diet due to lower vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This gluten-free diet could end up being higher in calories as many processed gluten-foods have higher sugar and fat levels to compensate for texture and flavor changes after removal of gluten. This gluten-free diet can thus result in weight gain and not weight loss.
Symptoms that could necessitate the need for a gluten-free diet
The symptoms that are likely to indicate gluten sensitivity or celiac disease include constipation or chronic diarrhea, recurring abdominal pain, tingling in hands and feet, joint pain, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis and unexplained infertility.
Before eliminating gluten from your diet, it is essential that you first consult with your healthcare professional. A standard blood testing procedure must be done as the first step to diagnosing the possibility of these conditions.
Diagnosing of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
A panel of blood tests is the first step for testing the presence of either gluten sensitivity or celiac disease in the body. The purpose of these blood tests is to look for an antibody response to gluten.
A positive test leads to an endoscopy whose purpose is to show the extent of intestinal cellular damage which arises as a result of celiac disease. This is typically the clearest indicator of a celiac disease diagnosis.
A gluten sensitivity diagnostic test has no particular indicator. Gluten sensitivity is instead worked out by ruling the potential causes of symptoms until the patient responds favorably to a gluten-free diet.