By Kelly Carroll and Roosevelt Morring, Dietetic Interns, LIU Post Dietetic Internship
Ask yourself this question, do I have celiac disease or gluten intolerance? If the answer is no, why are you pursuing a gluten free diet? Gluten is a protein found naturally in many cereal grains. Gluten can be found in three main sources: wheat, rye and barley. Common products containing wheat are breads, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressing and alcohol. Rye can be found in rye breads, rye beers and some cereals, and barley is found in malts, food coloring, brewers yeast, soups and beer. Gluten can also be found in nonfood items such as sunscreen, makeup, lotion, medicine, shampoo, conditioner and soap. Because it is in so many things, it is important for anyone with a gluten intolerance to be familiar with reading labels.
People who have celiac disease are unable to eat gluten because it damages their small intestine. Because it is a disease that affects the immune system, the body responds by attacking the small intestine after gluten is consumed. Someone who has a gluten intolerance has similar symptoms to someone with celiac disease, but the symptoms are less severe. Many foods that contain gluten are very good sources of carbohydrates and fiber. These are essential for a balanced diet. A gluten restricted diet may omit adequate nutrients and not provide any extra benefit for those not suffering from gluten intolerant ailments. Overall, if you are not suffering from a condition that requires a gluten restriction, this diet may not be the best choice for you. For more information see a Registered Dietitian or visit https://celiac.org/.