Regardless of where you live, always check food labels if you need to avoid gluten.
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SC: This is a myth that I often hear. However, many gluten-free products are made with white rice flour and starches that are often not enriched. Also, they may contain more sugar and fat to increase palatability, and therefore be higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts.
As a result, they can be lower in fiber, iron, and B vitamins. However, the market is growing and there are more options available today for those who must follow a gluten-free diet than ever before.
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Some manufacturers do enrich their products with vitamins and minerals, in addition to using other healthful ingredients to improve the nutrition profiles of these products. SC: Some best-selling authors have blamed gluten for every health condition. The fact is that nutrition and food is not that simple. Weight loss is a benefit often claimed with consuming a gluten-free diet, but ironically, many people gain weight when they eat a gluten-free diet. However, for the vast majority of the population, there is no benefit to eliminating gluten.
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Rather, people should follow a healthful, varied diet. The key is consuming fewer calories and getting regular physical activity.
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If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Many Americans are considering cutting back on the amount of gluten in their diets or avoiding it altogether. However, nutritionists say that if this is not done carefully, the diet can be unhealthy. In a recent poll, 30 percent of adults said they wanted to "cut down or be free of gluten ," according to The NDP Group, the market-research company that conducted the poll. That's the highest percentage of people to report having this goal since the poll began asking the question in , NDP says.
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, rye and barley. It's found in most breads, cereals, pastas and many processed foods, according to WebMD. People who havea condition calledceliac disease develop an immune reaction to gluten that damages the intestine, and so they need to avoid the protein. About 1 percent of the population has celiac disease. For most other people, a gluten-free diet won't provide a benefit, said Katherine Tallmadge, a dietitian and the author of "Diet Simple" LifeLine Press, What's more, people who unnecessarily shun gluten may do so at the expense of their health, Tallmadge said.
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That's because whole grains, which contain gluten, are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, Tallmadge said. Gluten-free products are often made with refined grains, and are low in nutrients. If you embrace such a diet, you'll end up "eating a lot of foods that are stripped of nutrients," Tallmadge said. Studies show gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc, she said.
People who go gluten-free may feel better because, to avoid the protein, they end up cutting out desserts and junk foods, thus losing weight. Heather Mangieri, a nutrition consultant and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agreed.
Any of us that eliminates or removes cookies and candies from our diets, and replaces them with fruits and vegetables is going to feel better. Before you switch to a gluten-free diet, you should be evaluated by your family physician, and a specialist who can determine if you have celiac disease.
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