Nowadays, gluten-free foods become quite popular at grocery stores.
Many people feel that maybe they should try a gluten-free diet because it is said that food without gluten is healthier.
But is it true? Are gluten-free diets a lifestyle you can choose to have, just like low-carb diets, low-fat diets, or low-calorie diets?
Research shows that if one suffers from a condition known as celiac disease, it’s a must. For other people, it may not be always a good choice.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. You can find it in bread, pasta, and desserts.
Some people get gas, diarrhea, or bloating after eating gluten. These symptoms are related to intolerance to the protein or a wheat allergy, but they are not celiac disease.
In celiac disease, when a person with eats or drinks anything with gluten, the body’s immune system attacks the inside of the small intestine.
This can cause intestine damage, which keeps the body from absorbing necessary nutrients.
If left untreated, the disease can lead to many health problems, such as malnutrition, depression, anxiety, anemia, or weakened bones. It can also delay a child’s growth.
Unfortunately, celiac disease is hard to spot, because its symptoms can be similar to other disorders. Recent research shows that It can take more than 3 years to diagnosis the condition.
The condition affects about 1% of people worldwide, and nearly 80% of them haven’t been diagnosed.
To diagnose celiac disease, your doctor needs to do a blood test. Before the test, continue eating foods with gluten. Otherwise, the results may be negative for celiac disease even if you have it.
Eating a regular diet can also help your doctor determine if you have a form of gluten sensitivity that is not celiac disease.
While gluten sensitivity may only last for some time, celiac disease is a life-long condition.
Sometimes your doctor may need to check your intestine to confirm if you have the disease.
Your doctor may also suggest genetic tests, which can detect the genes that turn on the body’s immune response to gluten.
Remember that even if you have a gene for celiac disease, you may not develop the disease.
For people with celiac disease, going on a strict 100% gluten-free diet for life remains the only treatment for now.
But gluten sometimes can be found in unexpected sources—such as medications, vitamin supplements, or lip balms. You need to check ingredient lists very carefully.
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict regulations for the use of “gluten-free” labels. Talking with a dietitian can also be helpful for learning about your food options.
If you suspect you may have celiac disease, talk with your doctor. Waiting too long could lead to serious health problems.
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