Why You May Not Need to Be Gluten Free

09/07/2017

Gluten free diets have become very popular in the last several years, but this diet is not recommended for everyone. Gluten is a protein found in grains, including wheat, barley and rye. The name comes from the Latin word for glue and it is what helps dough rise and keep its shape. Gluten gives food a chewy texture that we all enjoy. Let’s look at when a gluten free diet may be medically necessary:

  • Celiac Disease - Patients with celiac disease typically have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like poor growth, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. It is an autoimmune disease caused by antibodies that cause inflammation of intestines.
  • Wheat Allergies - Wheat allergies may result in GI symptoms similar to celiac disease but usually involve non-GI symptoms like breathing difficulties or rashes.
  • Gluten Sensitivity - Gluten sensitivity is not an autoimmune or allergic disease but these patients may present with GI symptoms similar to celiac disease, as well as systemic symptoms like headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

Without a medical diagnosis, you may not need to be gluten free, and here’s why: Gluten free diets are generally safe and healthy diets, but I advise guidance by a registered dietitian or knowledgeable physician whenever a food group is eliminated. When you eliminate an entire food group with no medical diagnosis, you are at risk for a deficiency of important nutrients and vitamins like iron, folate and fiber. If you do not have any of the above conditions or sensitivities, wheat, barley and rye are good items to have in your diet in moderation.