Celiac Disease affects a little under 1% of the US population, but research estimates that about 6x that number of Americans has non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). On top of that, many others without Celiac Disease or NCGS have chosen to eschew gluten for various health reasons – from clear skin to weight loss – despite little evidence to support this choice. Check out the topics below and let us know in the comments if you’re a gluten-free devotee or proud bread head!
Disease vs. Sensitivity
Celiac Disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease. It is characterized by a specific physiological response by body’s immune system, triggered by the ingestion of gluten. Left undiagnosed, it can lead to further health consequences such as osteoporosis and infertility.
NCGS, conversely, has a non-specific immune response and is considered clinically less serious than Celiac Disease. Yet the two conditions have some similar symptoms, including abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, and brain fog.
Gluten vs. FODMAPs
Adopting a 100% gluten-free diet is currently the only known treatment for Celiac Disease. Those with NCGS also often find relief from eliminating gluten; however, emerging research suggests that gluten itself may not be the culprit. Instead, symptoms may be due to a group of poorly digested carbohydrates called FODMAPs.
A Gluten-Free Diet Can Be Challenging & Unhealthy
Going gluten-free is easier said than done: many people report trouble sticking to the diet, for reasons ranging from social circumstances to accidental exposure, and feelings of anxiety and isolation can accompany this lifestyle. Luckily, awareness is growing and there are many helpful resources available to you! (Find some here.)
Eliminating gluten means removing many sources of dietary fiber, heart-healthy whole grains, B vitamins, and folic acid. Additionally, many gluten-free packaged foods sold at grocery stores make up for the removal of gluten ingredients by adding excess sugar, salt, and calories. A recent study even found a link between gluten-free diets and Metabolic Syndrome (a combination of diseases that includes diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity).
If you chose to or have to go gluten-free, it is important to take extra care to eat a well-balanced diet that provides you with the nutrients your body needs. We found a delicious gluten-free recipe to support you in this process. We especially love this recipe because it’s made with whey protein, which has numerous health benefits: it helps satisfy appetite, supports a healthy immune system, aids in weight loss, and helps build lean muscle mass. (You can order FemmePharma Whey Protein Powder here.) Even if you aren’t gluten-free, we think this one’s a winner! Give it a try, and let us know what you think.