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Gluten-Free / Celiac Diet

What Is A Gluten-Free Diet?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale, malt, and some oats. A gluten-free diet is used to treat Celiac Disease and may be considered in patients thought to have a gluten sensitivity or diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. A gluten-free diet helps control signs and symptoms and prevent long-term complications; it is the only treatment for Celiac Disease.

Removing gluten from your diet likely changes your overall intake of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Therefore, regardless of your reasons for following a gluten-free diet, it’s important to know how it can affect your overall nutritional needs.

 

Why Would A Gluten-Free Diet Be Recommended?

The gluten-free diet is essential for managing specific medical conditions:

  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder which gluten triggers immune system activity that damages the lining of the small intestine. Over time this damage prevents the absorption of nutrients from food.
  • Gluten sensitivity replicates the signs and symptoms associated with celiac disease, but there is no damage to the tissues of the small intestine.
  • Gluten ataxia, an autoimmune disorder, affects certain nerve tissues and causes problems with muscle control and voluntary muscle movement.
  • Wheat allergy, like other food allergies, is the result of the immune system creating an antibody to the protein, prompting an immune system response that may result in congestion, breathing difficulties and other symptoms.

Claims about the general health benefits of a gluten-free diet are the motivation for other people to avoid wheat and other grains with gluten. Very little clinical research has been conducted, however, about the benefits of the diet for people who do not have a gluten-related medical condition.

 

Gluten-Free Diet Risks

The foods not included in a gluten-free diet provide important vitamins and other nutrients. For example, whole-grain bread and other products are natural or enriched sources of the following:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Fiber
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Folate

 

Celiac Diet Food Details

Allowed foods

Many natural foods are gluten-free

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables  
  • Unprocessed foods like beans and nuts
  • Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs
  • Most dairy products

Gluten-free grains & flours

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Flax
  • Hominy (corn)
  • Millet
  • Potato
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Teff

Avoid all food and drinks containing

  • Barley
  • Malt (including malt flavoring and malt vinegar)
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Wheat (all types of wheat including whole, bromated, enriched, phosphate, self-rising)
  • Alternate forms of wheat
    • Bulgur
    • Durum
    • Farina
    • Graham
    • Kamut
    • Semolina
    • Spelt

Unless specifically labeled ‘gluten-free’, avoid:

  • Beer
  • Bread and bread products like croutons, crackers and matzo
  • Baked goods like cake, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, scones, doughnuts and pie
  • Cereal
  • Oats (if permitted per your doctor or dietitian)
  • Pasta
  • Soup and soup-bases
  • Soy sauce

Read ingredients and/or speak with servers to ensure that no gluten-containing ingredients have been used:

  • Candy
  • Deep-fried foods, even if non-gluten based like French fries and tortilla chips
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Processed deli meats
  • Salad dressings, sauces, and gravies
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods like potato chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Any gluten-free food that has been contaminated
    • Cross-contamination occurs when gluten-free foods come into contact with foods that contain gluten. It can happen during the manufacturing process or during food preparation at home or in a restaurant. It is important to read labels and handle foods carefully. Always speak with servers about your dietary restrictions when dining out.

*In addition to foods and beverages that may contain gluten, check that all vitamins and medications are gluten-free by reading bottles, speaking to your pharmacist or calling companies directly.

 

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Dr. Jennifer Bonheur is a board-certified gastroenterologist who loves her work and values her relationships with her patients. As a female gastroenterologist, she strives to connect and treat the patient and not simply the illness. Dr. Bonheur offers specialized care in gastroenterology and therapeutic endoscopy. Together with her staff, she is committed to providing the highest quality medical care in a comfortable, professional and personalized environment. Learn More »