Improved athletic performance. A reduction in depression. Weight loss.
These are all claims made by some people who cut gluten out of their diet, according to information from the Mayo Clinic.
While many tout the benefits of going gluten-free, more information is needed to determine if these claims are true, according to information from the Mayo Clinic stated. An article on the Harvard Health Publishing blog, however, stated that people who are not sensitive to gluten will not see improved health benefits from a gluten-free diet.
Getting rid of gluten does help individuals with Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, a wheat allergy, or the autoimmune disorder gluten ataxia.
So, what is gluten, and can removing it from your diet benefit you?
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is a name for proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. This protein helps foods maintain their shape.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. For a person with Celiac disease, gluten triggers immune system activity, which damages the lining of the small intestine. Eventually, this prevents the body from absorbing nutrients in food.
Those who are sensitive to gluten might experience symptoms such as headache, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, mental fogginess, rash, or headaches. Diet change can dramatically reduce these symptoms.
Foods that frequently contain gluten include breads, cakes, pies, cereals, cookies, French fries, imitation meat/seafood, malt products, croutons, candies, seasoned rice mixes, soups, seasoned snack foods, including potato chips, processed lunch meats, pasta, and more, the Mayo Clinic stated.
Cutting out gluten? Many foods are naturally gluten-free. According to the Mayo Clinic, this includes fruits and vegetables, eggs, beans, seeds and nuts, low-fat dairy, and lean, non-processed meats, and fish.
Some grains can also be included in a gluten-free diet, including buckwheat, corn, flax, quinoa, rice, soy, tapioca, arrowroot, and more. Rice, soy, corn, potato, and bean flours are also acceptable.
Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, some oats can be contaminated with wheat, barley, or rye during production, according to the Mayo Clinic. Alcoholic beverages derived from grapes or juniper berries are also naturally gluten-free.
Check your food for labels specifying whether a product is gluten-free. Items with wheat, barley, rye, or triticale in them, must be labeled on the product's content list.
Be careful of ingredients in prescription medications, as some use wheat gluten as a binding agent, according to the Mayo Clinic.
People should know that following a gluten-free diet can result in nutritional deficiencies, as some foods containing gluten are fortified with vitamins. Anyone following a gluten-free diet might not get enough iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, or folate in their diet, and should consider supplementing with vitamins.
If you have a gluten sensitivity, Celiac disease, or feel you can benefit from cutting out gluten, talk to your doctor or healthcare professional to determine the best diet for you.