Is a Gluten Free Diet Really Good for You?

By Photograph by Pdeitiker (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve probably heard many celebrities swear by a gluten-free diet and wondered if it would improve your health. However, just because someone observes a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean they have an intolerance. They most likely do it because they think it is “healthier.” It’s estimated that about 1.6 million people in America follow a gluten-free diet without having been diagnosed with celiac disease, but it remains to be seen if it’s good for you.

What’s Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in rye, wheat, barley and triticale, which is a combination of rye and wheat. The substance acts as a glue in foods like pasta and cereal, helping them maintain their shape. It’s also found in some cosmetics like lip balm and it’s mixed into the “glue” solution that seals stamps and envelopes.

Some people who consume gluten can become sick. It’s thought that about 18 million people in America have some sort of gluten intolerance and eating it can cause gas, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, itchy skin rashes and headaches.

About 1 in 133 individuals have celiac disease which is a more serious type of gluten intolerance. For those with the disease, avoiding gluten is imperative because it will trigger a negative response from the immune system. When gluten is consumed, the body won’t be able to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream and it can cause weight loss, stunted growth and anemia.

Gluten-Free Diet

For people with celiac disease, gluten-free means avoiding many foods such as bread, beer, candy, cereal, cake, pies, pasta and much more, unless they are labeled “gluten-free”. There are many foods that do not contain gluten such as eggs, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Many starches and grains are allowed on the diet, as long as they haven’t been processed or mixed with grains, preservatives or additives that have gluten in them.

Is the Diet Good for You?

Observing a gluten free diet isn’t as hard today as it was a decade ago. There are many staple foods containing protein and grocery stores now contain a wide array of gluten-free products.

According to a survey from the marketing company NPD Group, almost 30% of people in the United States claim to be reducing or cutting out gluten or protein completely. This number is much higher than the number of people who have celiac disease.
In the November 2014 issue of Medical News Today, the results of a study were reported in which investigators found non-gluten wheat proteins-serpins, purinins, globulins, farinins and a-amylase/protease inhibitors, may be the triggers of celiac disease.


Gluten has recently been getting a lot of attention and most of it has been negative. Some expert’s claim following a gluten-free diet it is healthy, but not actually having celiac disease, could actually make it bad for one’s health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a gluten-free diet can lead to low levels of iron, riboflavin, calcium, thiamine, folate and fiber.

Before engaging in any new diet plan, it is important to do your homework. However, when it comes to making dietary changes or omitting foods you may need for nutritional benefits, it’s better to speak with your doctor or a dietician to receive the best possible advice.


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