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"Why a Gluten Free Diet?"

A gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten, found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. A 100% gluten-free lifestyle is considered absolutely necessary for people with gluten intolerance, also known as Celiac Disease, because they suffer an immune reaction every time they eat foods containing gluten; if they continue to consume foods containing gluten, studies have shown their chance of gastrointestinal cancer may be elevated 40 to 100 times compared to the general population (www.celiac.com).

Symptoms of gluten intolerance can range from mild to severe, including weakness, bone pain, chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and progressive weight loss. It’s currently estimated that 1 in 133 Americans are impacted by this condition. The good news is, anyone with gluten intolerance can still enjoy delicious gluten-free meals with a little preplanning and attention to ingredient labels. Manufacturers have only recently begun highlighting their gluten-free products and even communicating if the product is processed in facilities free of wheat, barley, and rye.

If you follow a gluten-free diet, it’s important to pay attention to your overall nutrition. People who follow a gluten-free diet may have lower than recommended levels of certain vitamins and minerals in their diets, because many grains contain or are enriched with nutrients we need. Ask your dietician to review your diet to see if you are getting enough of the recommended daily vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gluten-free-diet/MY01140).

Recently, some celebrities have been jumping on the G-Diet: Gwyneth Paltrow, Posh Beckham, Jenny McCarthy, and even Oprah have been talking about being on a gluten-free diet. Dee Sandquist, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says eating gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean you're going to lose weight: "There are just as many calories, if not more, depending on the food choices." If you’re dieting to lose weight, choose carefully, because many gluten-free products add additional sugar and higher fats in order to improve the taste.

The bottom line is, if you are considering going on a G-Diet, a few days may do no harm, and could even give your diet a jump-start, if it helps limit your caloric intake. New research has recently shown that exercise does not do much to help you lose weight if you’re not also cutting back your calories. So if you’re looking to start on a diet, remember to stay diligent, set short-term goals, have a friend join you in your diet, and plan your meals. Eating healthier is sure to contribute to your long-term well-being!

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual counseling.

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