Gluten-free eating has gained popularity recently. It’s not for everyone; however, there are specific health conditions that benefit from avoiding gluten. Gluten is actually a baking term for the group of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye; the main protein is called gliadin. Some folks have a genetic intolerance to gluten/gliadin called celiac disease — if they consume gluten-containing grains, it causes inflammation in the intestinal tract that can produce constipation or diarrhea, as well as gas, indigestion, and bloating. More importantly, it can also lead to malabsorption of nutrients, and actually raise the risk of chronic disease development.
Other people do not have celiac disease, but have gluten intolerance — they have discovered by experience that they feel better and healthier when avoiding gluten. This may show up as a positive reaction on an IgG food sensitivity lab test (which we offer at CINHC), or could just be discovered by doing a trial of gluten avoidance for a few weeks.
If you have ever tried going gluten-free (GF), out of necessity or curiosity, you quickly discover just how challenging it can be: wheat is in nearly every packaged or processed food, and most foods available at restaurants. The key to success with a GF diet is advanced planning, especially to avoid the trap of relying on the explosion of GF junk foods that have become available recently. Food writer Amie Valpone has great ideas on healthy GF snacking: