While shifting to gluten-free diet, exercise caution

Health

Gluten, a protein in wheat, seems to be in the limelight. It is also found in grains such as barley, rye and oats. With increasing awareness about celiac disease and gluten-free diets, many more gluten-free food choices are visible on supermarket shelves, health food stores and pharmacies.

Not just those who have been diagnosed with celiac condition, but many seem to be adopting gluten-free foods as a lifestyle option. Lately, several celebrities like Novac Djokovik, Victoria Beckham, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel Weisz have been in the news on account of their modified dietary choice. Here are some common myths and truths around gluten-free diets.

Gluten-free diet leads to weight loss

The fact is that if you avoid wheat or gluten, your food options get limited. You may end up eating less than usual and, therefore, lose weight. However, if you replace wheat chapattis or breads with gluten-free alternatives, chances are you will gain weight due to a high percentage of refined starches in commercially available gluten-free alternatives. As a matter of fact, weight gain among diagnosed celiac individuals indicates recovery.

May increase stamina and energy

There is no direct correlation. However, if you replace wheat, breads and bakery products with healthier foods such as millets, including ragi, amaranth, oats, quinoa, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, you will certainly feel better. Taking only one cereal grain as a staple can also make you more sensitive to it. Consuming a variety, helps.

If uncomfortable after eating gluten, stop

As a matter of fact, in case you do feel uncomfortable, bloated or low in energy with wheat or gluten, do not remove it from your diet as these may camouflage symptoms of celiac disease. It is important that you continue to eat a normal diet that includes gluten containing foods such as breads, pasta and cereals, before and during the diagnosis process. If you have already removed gluten from your diet, you must re-introduce it for at least six weeks before any diagnostic tests are performed. If you stop eating wheat or gluten, the condition may be hidden and result in a negative test. You must get an investigation for the same under the guidance of a qualified physician.

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