I’ve heard a lot of people turning to a gluten free diet for ?weight control?. Unless you have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance/sensitivity there isn’t any need to avoid gluten. Plus, I don’t see how eliminating gluten equates to weight loss. You have to cut (or burn off) approximately 500 calories each day for weight loss of about 1 pound per week – a reasonable goal.
WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction produces inflammation that damages the small intestine’s lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption).
The intestinal damage can cause weight loss, bloating and sometimes diarrhea. Eventually, your brain, nervous system, bones, liver and other organs can be deprived of vital nourishment.
In children, malabsorption can affect growth and development. The intestinal irritation can cause stomach pain, especially after eating.
There’s no cure for celiac disease — but following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The signs and symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly.
Although the classic signs are diarrhea and weight loss, most people with celiac disease experience few or no digestive signs or symptoms. Only about one-third of people diagnosed with celiac disease experience diarrhea, and about half have weight loss.
Twenty percent of people with celiac disease have constipation, and 10 percent are obese.
In addition to digestive problems, other signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Anemia, usually resulting from iron deficiency
- Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or softening of bone (osteomalacia)
- Itchy, blistery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Damage to dental enamel
- Headaches and fatigue
- Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, and possible problems with balance
- Joint pain
- Reduced functioning of the spleen (hyposplenism)
- Acid reflux and heartburn
As many as 75 percent of children with celiac disease are overweight or obese. Digestive signs and symptoms are experienced by 20 to 30 percent of children with the condition although the precise signs and symptoms differ by age.
In infants, typical signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Swollen belly
- Failure to thrive or weight loss
Older children may experience:
- Short stature
- Delayed puberty
- Neurologic symptoms, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disability, headaches and lack of muscle coordination
PREVALENCE AND RISK
A study done by Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health estimates that about 1 in 141 people in the U.S. have celiac disease, although the disease often goes undiagnosed. Celiac disease is most common in Caucasians.
Celiac disease can affect anyone. However, it tends to be more common in people who have:
- A family member with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Down syndrome or Turner syndrome
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)
FOODS TO AVOID
A gluten-free diet is essential, and the only treatment for managing celiac disease. In addition to wheat, foods that contain gluten include:
- Graham flour
- Spelt (a form of wheat)
VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS
You may need to supplement your levels of:
- Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
Packaged foods should be avoided unless they’re labeled as gluten-free or have no gluten-containing ingredients. In addition to cereals, pastas and baked goods — such as breads, cakes, pies and cookies — other packaged foods that may contain gluten include:
- Imitation meats or seafood
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings and sauces, including soy sauce
- Self-basting poultry
Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing. It’s not clear whether oats are harmful for most people with celiac disease, but doctors generally recommend avoiding oats unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free. Occasionally, even pure oats can be a problem for people with celiac disease.
Many basic foods are allowed in a gluten-free diet, including:
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry that aren’t breaded, batter-coated or marinated
- Most dairy products
- Wine and distilled liquors, ciders and spirits
Grains and starches allowed in a gluten-free diet include:
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
- Pure corn tortillas
Fortunately for bread and pasta lovers with celiac disease, an increasing number of gluten-free products are available. If you can’t find any at your local bakery or grocery store, check online. There are gluten-free substitutes for many gluten-containing foods. And they have come a long way in improved consistency and taste!
This site is based out of Willaimsville, NY: Just Ask Josh
More information at: Mayo Clinic