Does Gluten Free Equal Healthy?

Contributed by: Michael Devon, NASM-CPT

Eating gluten free has a number of health benefits which may include decreased inflammation: great for managing autoimmune disorders, decreased GI discomfort, and the opportunity to substitute healthy gluten free alternatives in your food.

Gluten consumption in some individuals triggers an immunologic response in which the body attacks itself as a form of self defense. This autoimmune condition is known as Celiac disease and the only effective form of treatment is adopting a gluten free diet. Although, many people aren’t completely gluten intolerant, rather they have a gluten sensitivity. This means their body may reveal adverse reactions to gluten yet they are not completely gluten intolerant. Gluten is present in wheat, barley, and rye. Individuals who have Celiac disease have a gluten allergy, those who do not have this┬ádisease but still report upset stomachs, other GI issues or physical reactions may have what is known as a gluten sensitivity.

Cooking and eating gluten free can be a major challenge so it helps to know how to substitute for gluten. Gluten free grains, seeds, and beans include rice (japonica, red, wild, brown, and black), amaranth, arrowroot, flax, millet, quinoa, bean flour, and nut flours to name a few. While excluding gluten may be beneficial for managing autoimmune and GI disorders, eating gluten free will not directly contribute to weight loss or improved health without exercise and caloric control. Before adopting a gluten free lifestyle, remember to first consult with your doctor to determine if gluten realy is the culprit.

Complete Gluten-Free Diet and Nutrition Guide. Written by Alexandra Anca, MHSc, RD with Theresa Santandrea- Cull

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