3 gluten myths you need to know

June 25, 2018 | by Sivakami Krishnan, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Gluten is seriously misunderstood.

Some people think it makes them fat. Some think it makes them sluggish. The truth is, gluten is not a problem for most people.

Have you heard these myths about gluten?

  • Gluten saps your energy. It’s probably not the gluten that’s slowing you down. When you stop eating white bread and eat fruits and veggies instead, you’ll have more energy. But that boost comes from the healthy food, not the lack of gluten.
  • Gluten-free diets can help you lose weight. If you lose weight after removing gluten from your diet, it’s likely because you’re eating healthier, whole food.
  • Gluten is bad for you. Gluten is no worse for you than peanut butter. It’s simply a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that some people’s bodies cannot tolerate.

There is a small population of people with celiac disease, a gluten allergy, who should go gluten-free.

Celiac disease affects 1 in 100 people worldwide. It’s an autoimmune disorder, so when someone with celiac disease eats gluten, his body ends up attacking and damaging his small intestine.

Symptoms of celiac disease in adults include:

  • Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone loss)
  • Liver and biliary tract disorders (transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.)
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness or pain in the hands and feet)
  • Seizures or migraines
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • Canker sores inside the mouth
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash)

Kids are more likely to experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, vomiting and constipation.

If you suspect you have celiac disease, make an appointment to see your doctor. Blood tests can confirm your body’s response to gluten. If tests reveal no celiac disease or wheat allergy, yet you still have symptoms, you may have gluten sensitivity.

People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity experience the symptoms of a gluten allergy, yet they don’t have the same intestinal damage as those with celiac disease. There isn’t a test that can confirm this sensitivity, so your doctor may recommend cutting out gluten or wheat to see if that lessens your symptoms.

A gluten-free diet will probably not improve your health if you don’t have celiac disease.

If you purposely stop eating gluten when you’ve never had celiac disease or sensitivity, it’s OK. Just make sure you’re eating a balanced diet with enough fiber (lots of fruits and vegetables).

Dr. Sivakami Krishnan, M.D., a family medicine physician with Elmhurst Memorial Elmhurst Clinic, is accepting new patients in Oak Park! View her profile.

Schedule online

Related blogs:

What’s so bad about the white stuff?
How clean are you eating?
9 tips that will transform your food shopping
Healthy food swaps you’ll barely notice
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: the never-ending upset stomach

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