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Is a Gluten-Free Diet Healthy?

Humans have consumed wheat for more than 10,000 years — yet over the past decade, more and more people have begun to avoid it. Known as a gluten-free diet, people are choosing to swap gluten-containing grains for alternatives such as quinoa, amaranth, millet, and rice.

So what exactly is gluten?

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is the general term for proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. While a product may be “wheat-free”, that doesn’t always mean “gluten-free” as it can still contain rye or barley in some form. Gluten is commonly found in breads, pasta, baked goods, and sauces, as well as salad dressings and beer.

While it’s clear that people are interested in eliminating gluten, we decided to speak with Tori James, MS, RD, LD and Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant with Ingredient 1, to learn why exactly this diet is so popular.

There is a fad component to the popularity of the gluten free diet; however, for those with Celiac disease or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. A gluten allergy affects the immune system and triggers an immediate reaction upon ingestion, while an intolerance affects the digestive system and the reaction usually takes a bit longer to occur.

According to James, “Celiac disease affects about 3 million Americans — recent research shows that 83% are undiagnosed. These individuals require a gluten-free diet for health reasons. Those that do not have Celiac disease, but experience an adverse reaction to gluten, and show improvement on a gluten-free diet, may have non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity is estimated to affect up to ten times more people that celiac disease, yet it’s still not well understood.”

Although those with a gluten sensitivity will certainly benefit from avoiding gluten, the jury is still out on whether or not removing gluten from your diet is a wise choice if you don’t need to.

Read the full article here:

http://blog.pager.com//2015/6/3/is-a-gluten-free-diet-healthy

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