Currently, around 1% of the United States population has celiac disease, and approximately 6% are affected by “non-celiac gluten sensitivity”. People who carry these health conditions have to follow a gluten-free diet. The gluten-free diet is an eating pattern excluding the consumption of gluten. The last is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale, etc. Managing celiac disease symptoms and other gluten-related health problems requires a gluten-free diet. In addition, this diet plan benefits in improving health, weight loss, and increasing energy.
Following a gluten-free diet demands the avoidance of wheat and other grains, which include gluten, and choosing substitutes for healthy eating. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, rye, barley, and derivatives of these grains, including triticale and malt. Also, you should avoid foods that share processing facilities or transportation with foods that include gluten. There is some controversy surrounding the inclusion of oats in gluten-free diets. The toxicity of oats in people with gluten-related disorders depends on the oat cultivar. The immunoreactivities of toxic prolamins differ among oat cultivars. In addition, other gluten-containing cereals frequently cross-contaminate oats.
However, you can find oats labeled as “pure oat” or “gluten-free oat”. It refers to oat that is uncontaminated with other gluten-containing cereals. Such cultivars of pure oat can be a part of the gluten-free diet.
You need to pay careful attention to the selection of food, its ingredients, and nutritional content.
There are no contraindications for the gluten-free diet.
How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies
Whole-grain foods contain essential nutrients. Moreover, many food products containing gluten are also fortified with vitamins. Therefore, excluding foods that contain gluten from the diet can result in nutrient deficiencies, including iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin B-1 (thiamin), vitamin B-12 (riboflavin), vitamin B-3 (niacin), and vitamin B-9 (folate) deficiency. Therefore, to meet your body’s needs in vitamins and minerals, you should balance your diet plan.
- Iron: red meat, poultry, fish, leafy greens of the cabbage family, yeast-leavened gluten-free whole-grain rolls and bread, lima beans, green peas, and dry beans.
- Calcium: dairy products, nuts, fruits, green leafy vegetables, beans, fish.
- Fiber: chickpeas, nuts, quinoa, berries, oats, fruits with peels and pits, flax seeds, gluten-free cereals, psyllium.
- Vitamin B-1 (thiamin): sunflower seeds, mushrooms, meat, asparagus, peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, organ meats, blackstrap molasses.
- Vitamin B-3 (niacin): chicken, tuna, salmon, sardines, shrimps, turkey, beef, lamb, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, bell pepper, asparagus, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
- Vitamin B-9 (folate): dark leafy greens (such as kale and spinach), legumes, cruciferous vegetables, green vegetables, avocado, papaya, strawberries, orange, seeds, and nuts.
- Vitamin B-12 (riboflavin): meat, fish, dairy products, nutritional yeasts.
To meet your body’s needs, you can also take vitamins and minerals supplements.
Tips on improving your dieting experience
- Consult with the dietitian. It would be helpful to talk with the dietitian before excluding gluten from your diet to ensure that your nutrition plan will include all the essential nutrients.
- Read labels when you are buying processed foods to determine if they include gluten. The label of foods containing wheat, barley, rye, and triticale – or an ingredient derived from them – must list the name of the grain.
- Replace gluten-containing foods with gluten-free alternatives. You can enjoy your favorite foods that include gluten by consuming gluten-free alternatives. Among the gluten-free substitutes are pasta, bread, crackers, bread rolls, cereals, and more. You can find them in most supermarkets. Coeliac patients may receive gluten-free staples on prescription from the NHS.
- Enjoy naturally gluten-free foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits, poultry, meat, fish, eggs, and cheese are naturally gluten-free. Such grains as teff, polenta, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, corn, tapioca, and millet are naturally gluten-free grains that can be safely consumed by people following a gluten-free diet.
A gluten-free diet became popular in past years. This diet is highly beneficial for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, there is little evidence of the health benefits of the gluten-free diet for people without gluten intolerance. It is important for a person to get adequate nutrients from other dietary sources when they are removing gluten sources from their diet.