ZocdocAnswersWhat are the benefits of a gluten-free diet?

Question

What are the benefits of a gluten-free diet?

Several of my friends have gone on gluten-free diets, and expound on their virtues. Is there evidence showing that going gluten-free is actually a healthy diet plan, or is it really just another fad at this point? If you can reap benefits from a gluten-free diet, what are they?

Answer

Before going on any diet, be sure to consult with your primary care physician. There are a lot fad diets out there that can be quite unhealthy for you. I'll cover the gluten issue below. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other wheat products. It has no particular important property, except that some people develop an allergy to it. Gluten allergy (or sensitivity) is what causes the disease Celiac Sprue, or Celiac disease. Patients with this disease suffer from digestion problems, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and sometimes malnutrition. The disease is controlled by the gluten free diet. After removal of gluten from the diet, patients typically have drastic resolution of there symptoms. In someone without Celiac disease, a gluten free diet has no scientific use. Certain foods are removed from the diet while staying gluten free and thus, certain vitamin deficiencies can occur. This is why patients on a gluten free diet are often advised to use vitamin supplements. Any improvement in the way a person without Celiac disease feels on a gluten free diet would be mostly due to the foods they are forced to eat and probably has nothing to do with the gluten itself. I would suggest discussing a good dietary plan with your primary care physician at your next visit.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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