Most of us know someone that is following a gluten-free diet and have seen the huge emergence of gluten-free food items in the grocery store. But what is gluten and is a gluten-free diet actually healthy? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that can trigger an immune response causing damage to a person’s small intestine - a condition called Celiac Disease. People with this disease aren’t able to absorb as many nutrients from their food and may suffer from anemia, diarrhea and a handful of other problems. Therefore, the only way to treat Celiac Disease is with a gluten-free diet. But what about the average joe like you and me? Should we be avoiding gluten? No. Unless you have Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity, gluten is not harmful. Some health claims state that going gluten-free will help you lose weight. This may be true if majority of your diet comes from baked good and large portions of wheat-based foods like pasta or bread. You will probably lose weight if you cut that out however, many gluten-free products have more sugar and fat. Bottom line? Unless you have Celiac Disease, just focus on consuming an overall healthy diet while keeping portion size and moderation in mind.
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