Is a Gluten-Free Diet Right for You?

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Millions of Americans, from your next-door neighbor to the hottest Hollywood celebrities, are finding that following a gluten-free diet improves their quality of life. Many say that eliminating gluten results in fewer health complaints, increased energy and an improved sense of overall well-being. Going gluten free sounds appealing—but is it really right for you?

Is a Gluten-Free Diet Right for You?

Gluten is a protein found not only in wheat, but also in barley, rye, triticale, spelt and kamut. It’s found in many foods you eat every day, from bread and pasta to crackers, cookies, baked goods and much more. It may sound harmless, but for those with celiac disease, ingesting this simple protein can lead to serious health issues. Others find that without gluten, they simply feel better.

So why all the fuss now? Why are gluten-containing foods that people have eaten throughout time causing issues today? The glutinous grains that fill our plates now are a far cry from the ones our ancestors ate. Wheat, in particular, has gone through countless hybridizations to increase crop yields or to improve potential resistance to disease. Some wheat critics point out that wheat has changed dramatically – even since most of us were kids – and that these changes may be linked to the problems people are experiencing with gluten today.

For those with celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition, avoiding gluten isn’t a dietary preference—it’s a must. Gluten consumption can be life-threatening, so drastic measures must be taken to avoid it and ingredients or tools that have come in contact with it. Blood tests and a biopsy of the small intestine are used to determine celiac disease. If you think you may have it, talk to your healthcare provider.

Others may be gluten intolerant and experience a wide range of subtle or not-so-subtle reactions. Some people feel tired after eating gluten, while others have increased inflammation in their intestines or elsewhere in their bodies. Personally, I’ve seen hundreds of patients respond favorably to reducing or eliminating their gluten intake. Their improvements have ranged from resolution of chronic migraine headaches to joint relief in those with autoimmune arthritis.

If you suffer from digestive issues, skin issues, body aches or blood sugar imbalances, you may want to give a gluten-free diet a try. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider first, and if you need help planning a healthy gluten-free diet, a health coach or other nutrition professional can provide guidance.