Over the past decade, gluten-free diets have moved from a relatively unknown concept to a mainstream way of life. Even Oprah went gluten-free for a while – and if she’s doing it, you know it’s only a matter of time before everyone is. But even with an increasing awareness of gluten and the FDA’s recent gluten-free labeling guidelines, many people are still confused about gluten.
Why go gluten-free?
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Most notably, gluten causes inflammation of the intestines in those with celiac, a genetic disease. People with celiac disease, gluten allergies or even gluten sensitivity can experience intestinal discomfort, diarrhea and unhealthy weight loss. The protein can even cause reactions in the skin, mouth and lungs of people with a gluten allergy. The best way to alleviate these symptoms is to simply avoid foods containing gluten.
Nutritionists do not recommend eliminating gluten from your diet unless you absolutely must. This is because eliminating wheat and related grains can mean missing vital nutrients. Unless these vitamins and minerals are replaced through other foods or nutritional supplements, a gluten-free diet can be risky. These nutrients include:
Calcium – necessary for bone density and prevention of osteoporosis.
Folate – contributes to healthy blood glucose and blood pressure levels and helps the body ward of fatigue.
Iron – necessary for many body functions such as oxygen transport and metabolism.
Niacin – shown to help the body maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Riboflavin – necessary for normal cell function, growth and energy production as well as cognitive function.
Thiamin – involved in numerous body functions, including nervous system and muscle functioning.
You can substitute wheat flour with rice or corn flour. Also try incorporating gluten-free grains quinoa and amaranth into your diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to avoid fiber deficiency as well.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting enough of each nutrient is supplementing with a complete optimal nutrition formula such as Reliv Classic® or Reliv Now®. Both are gluten-free and contain beneficial nutrients for a healthy gluten-free diet.