The Gluten Free Diet

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The gluten-free diet is for those who cannot eat foods made with gluten. Now, it has become a growing trend. Some celebrities have sparked the trend of using the gluten-free diet mainly for diet and weight loss reasons. Other celebrities, such as Elizabeth Hasselback of The View talk show, have Celiac disease, so they must follow the diet. The fact that celebrities are following this has made it a big trend. Now, many people are following the diet for the wrong reasons. Marketers have even said that 15% to 25% of consumers eat gluten-free foods, but doctors report that only 1% of people have Celiac disease.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in rye, wheat, barley, breads, and cereals, and gluten is an important ingredient in foods because it:

  • Makes the bread elastic (gives it a chewy texture)
  • Helps the bread rise before it is baked
  • Helps bread maintain proper shape
  • Makes bread absorbent (which is why it can soak up liquids)

How is the Gluten-Free Diet a Fad?

This is a fad that is becoming popular because it is endorsed by so many people, including celebrities. Rather than using the diet for nutritional purposes, people are using it to:

  • Relieve migraines, fatigue, and arthritis Manage acne
  • Help with depression
  • Gain Energy
  • Clear Sinuses
  • Help with infertility

Who Needs to use the Gluten-Free Diet for Medical Reasons?

Those with Celiac disease must eat foods made without gluten, foods that have not been in contact with gluten, and foods that are not processed or grown near foods with gluten.

What is Celiac Disease?

Those with Celiac disease cannot digest the gluten in foods, so they must eat foods without gluten. If improperly treated, it can be fatal. People with this disease must be careful when eating oats or gluten-free grains because they are usually grown or packaged near foods with gluten. Those with Celiac disease need to be aware of what they are eating because there is gluten in many products. For example, if you participate in Communion, you must be aware that wheat (which contains gluten) is in the wafers eaten in some religious ceremonies. Gluten is also found in many popular dishes, such as Chinese food (the soy sauce has gluten). If people with Celiac disease eat gluten, it can result in:

  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Stomach cramps
  • Inflammation of the small intestine

 

References Gluten Free Diet: www.venturacountystar.com/news/2008/mar/26/giving-up-gluten-may-be-lastest-fad/, www.gicare.com/diets/Gluten-Free.aspx, www.usatoday.com/news/health/painter/2008-08-17-gluten_N.htm, www.startribune.com/fifestyle/health/15315781.html. Nutrition Education for NOVEMBER 2009. Produced by Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County by Stefanie Johnson, a nutrition intern for Sherry Simon, R.D./L.D. For question regarding nutritional informa- tion, please contact Sherry Simon, R.D./L.D., Director of Nutrition Services for Meals on Wheels, Inc. Tarrant Country at (817) 336-0912 or email: ssi- mon@mealsonwheels.org Website: www.mealsonweels.org 

Posted in Nutritional Education.

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