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Gluten-Free Dieting for Weight Loss

Gluten-free products are showing up more and more in our local grocery store aisles. This is fantastic for people who suffer from celiac disease-who for health reasons must eliminate gluten from their diet.

However, most of the people who reach for gluten-free products do not have celiac disease or do not suffer from sensitivity to wheat. Why exactly then are consumers opting for gluten-free products… we don’t know!  According to Peter H.R. Green MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, many people may perceive the gluten-free diet as a healthier diet.

In fact, it is not a healthier diet. For those who do have celiac disease a gluten-free diet is essential. But for others, a gluten-free diet can potentially lack vitamins, minerals and fiber unless the consumer is very careful.

Experts estimate that about 1% of Americans have celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten, damaging the lining of the small intestine and preventing important nutrients from being absorbed. Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, anemia, bone pain and a severe skin rash.

How can you know if you have celiac disease? The only way to know is to go to your primary physician and be tested.

So what is wrong with a gluten-free diet if you don’t have celiac disease?

While gluten is common in many processed foods, eliminating over-processed foods from your diet will be beneficial. Eliminating processed foods and gluten foods are two different battles. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten also shows up in many whole grain foods related to wheat, including bulgur, farro, kamut and spelt. The whole grains that contain gluten provide nutritional benefits. They are rich in vitamins and minerals including iron, B vitamins and fiber. Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that half of all carbohydrates in the diet come from whole grain products.

All in all if you do have gluten sensitivity stick with your gluten-free products. However, if you are gluten tolerant enjoy your whole grains and the nutritional benefits they provide.

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