Should I Go Gluten Free?

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Foods containing gluten are part of a healthy diet for most of the U.S. population. There are some individuals, however, that are not able to eat gluten-containing foods, such as those with gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, or Celiac Disease. These conditions can only be determined by a doctor after running a few diagnostic tests.


Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten intake. When an individual with Celiac Disease eats gluten, the body attacks and destroys the lining of the small intestine, which limits nutrient absorption. The only treatment is to remove gluten from the diet. Symptoms of Celiac Disease include stomach pain, gas, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, mood alterations, weight loss, joint pain, dermatitis herpetiformis (dry, itchy rash), and slowed growth.

Individuals with a gluten intolerance (or gluten sensitivity) are not able to tolerate and digest gluten. Symptoms are similar to those who have Celiac Disease, though intestinal damage does not occur.

A wheat allergy occurs when the body wrongfully identifies a component of wheat as harmful and sets off a response which results in a physical reaction. Symptoms of a wheat allergy can be as mild as itching or as severe as having trouble breathing (anaphylaxis).

Which Foods Contain Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in foods made from wheat, rye, barley, and triticale, or foods containing any ingredients derived from these grains. Some common foods containing these grains include the following:

Wheat: Breads, Baked goods, Pasta, Cereals, Salad dressings; Rye: Rye bread, Cereals, Triticale; Barley: Malt, Food coloring, Soups, Malt vinegar, Beer

This is not a comprehensive list. For more information on food sources of gluten visit the Celiac Disease Foundation website.

If you’re thinking about going gluten free it is advised that you see a registered dietitian to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need.



Information on Celiac Disease:
EatRight.org: Celiac Disease – An Introduction
NIH: What I Need to Know about Celiac Disease

Information on food sources of gluten and a gluten-free diet:
Celiac Disease Foundation: Sources of Gluten
EatRight.org: Processed Foods that May Contain Wheat, Rye, and Barley
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: The Gluten-Free Diet



Sources:
1. Celiac Disease: An Introduction. EatRight.org website. May 12, 2015. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/celiac-disease/celiac-disease-an-introduction. Accessed August 11, 2015.

2. Sources of Gluten. Celiac Disease Foundation website. https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/sources-of-gluten/. Accessed August 11, 2015.