After being confined to health-food stores for years, gluten-free foods now show up everywhere. Based on little or no evidence other than testimonials in the media, people have been switching to gluten-free diets to lose weight, boost energy, treat autism, or generally feel healthier. Daniel A. Leffler, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Just 50 milligrams of the protein—about the amount in one small crouton—is enough to cause trouble. In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, cause a host of symptoms, and lead to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures. A related condition called gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can generate symptoms similar to celiac disease but without the intestinal damage. Not long ago, celiac disease was diagnosed by a process of elimination. Today it can be identified with a blood test for the presence of antibodies against a protein called tissue transglutaminase.
To follow a gluten-free diet, you must avoid wheat and some other grains while choosing substitutes that provide nutrients for a healthy diet. Gluten is a protein found in most grains. The gluten found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale a cross between wheat and rye can trigger serious health problems or other insensitivities. While other grains such as corn, rice and quinoa also contain gluten, they don’t seem to cause the same problems as wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Because wheat, rye, barley and foods made from them are so common, removing them from your diet likely changes your overall intake of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Therefore, it’s important to know how to choose your foods in order to meet your overall nutritional needs. Your doctor or a dietitian can help you make appropriate dietary choices to maintain a well-balanced diet.
When you start the gluten-free diet, side effects can include changes in your weight either gains or losses, improvements in your energy levels, and boosts to your nutritional status. However, the gluten-free diet also can cause undesirable side effects. For example, you may find you suffer more from constipation since many gluten-free foods, such as packaged snacks, contain little fiber. You also may also find you are more susceptible gluten cross-contamination. Wondering what to expect in the way of side effects as you start the gluten-free diet? Here’s what you should know. But not all people with celiac disease are underweight prior to their medical diagnosis.