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Should You Be on a Gluten-Free Diet?

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Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and by extension in any foods made from these products. While most people have no trouble eating these foods, some people follow a gluten-free diet. These three grains are a staple in Western foods, so it can be a challenge to eliminate them from your diet.

For sufferers of Celiac disease, the only treatment is avoiding gluten. Many people who do not have the disease have been cutting gluten from their diets as well, and report feeling much better. On the surface, it may seem that this is yet another fad diet and these people are convincing themselves that there is some improvement. However, these people may have “gluten intolerance.” This condition has not been well researched. In fact, there are only three studies done to confirm or refute its existence.

The symptoms of the two conditions can be similar, causing an immune system reaction and inflammation in the small intestine. The symptoms are also similar to those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and some people may have both conditions.

If you think you have a gluten intolerance, it is important to talk to a doctor and get tested. You could be struggling with Celiac without knowing it. Diagnosing Celiac from symptoms alone is almost impossible, since it expresses itself differently in almost everyone. There are over 300 known symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Iron deficiency
  • Arthritis
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Bone loss
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Canker sores in the mouth
  • Migraines
  • Repeated miscarriages or infertility
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis, a type of skin rash

Because of all the variation, the only way to diagnose Celiac is through testing. Blood tests looking for specific antibodies found in people with the disease are conducted. If you test positive, a biopsy of your small intestine will be taken to confirm the results. If you don’t have signs of the disease, you do not need to continue with a gluten-free diet.

It is never a good idea to make a big change to your diet or habits without talking to a medical professional. Unless you are sure that avoiding gluten is necessary due to a true health concern, following this lifestyle is nothing more than a fad. Rendering this health concern into a trend can put people with Celiac in danger, as people may not adhere as strictly as they need, or their concerns may be ignored, putting them in danger whenever they eat something prepared by someone else.

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