The gluten-free diet

Monday, January 28, 2013

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Dear Donovan,

I have been hearing a lot of talks of late about the gluten-free-diet. Could you say what this is about in terms of what are the benefits and what foods I would need to cut out for this diet? I was also told that the consumption of whole-wheat products is not for everyone as it does not work well with certain blood types. Is this true? How would I know if my blood type is reacting to wheat or not, since I have been trying to lose some extra pounds for some time now without much success.

The gluten free diet is a diet which excludes food containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Traditionally, a gluten free diet was used to treat celiac disease and wheat allergy.

Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from proper absorption. This changes into a reaction to eating gluten.

A person with celiac disease could become malnourished no matter how much food he or she eats. In addition, gluten causes inflammation of the small intestines of people with celiac disease. A gluten-free diet would cause a person with celiac disease to control their symptoms and prevent complications.

A gluten-free diet rules out bread, pasta and foods with rye, barley or gluten contained in flour. In addition, you would have to avoid beer, cakes and pies, candies, cereals, salad dressings, cookies and crackers and french fries, unless they are labelled gluten-free.

Some medications and vitamin supplements, especially those in tablet form, may contain gluten as a binding agent. Among the foods on a gluten-free diet are beans, fruits, nuts, eggs, fish and poultry, vegetables, most dairy products, corn and cornmeal, rice, soy, gluten-free flour and potato.

A gluten-free diet can definitely help you with your weight loss programme, since on this diet, you would definitely reduce or eliminate some high calorie foods such as cake, fries, crackers and other things which are high in calories. Once these calories are not replaced by other unhealthy foods, you should see a reduction in weight.

You could start your diet by removing small amounts of gluten content foods from your diet at first, and gradually eliminating others over time. You could also add some exercise to your programme which would help with your weight loss.

Please note that people who follow a gluten-free diet may have a low level of certain nutrients and vitamins. This is because many grains are enriched with vitamins so avoiding these foods could result in taking in less of these vitamins. As a result, it is important that you have a dietician or nutrients review your diet plan if you decide to become gluten-free.

I am not sure about the connection between whole-wheat products and blood group, but within a population, different persons would react to different foods in different ways. However, if after eating whole grain products you are getting any adverse reactions, for example diarrhoea and vomiting, you should have this checked out by a doctor.




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