Benefits, Drawbacks & When To Avoid – Forbes Health

“The gluten-free diet was developed to treat patients with celiac disease,” explains Alan Ehrlich, M.D., board chair for Beyond Celiac. “[Celiac disease] is an autoimmune disease that’s triggered by consuming gluten, and typically results in damage to the small intestine, but can also affect other parts of the body,” he notes.

Along with celiac disease, if someone has a diagnosis of dermatitis herpetiformis (a rare, autoimmune skin condition caused by eating gluten) or another gluten-related immunologic disorder, a physician will often recommend a gluten-free diet (GFD) according to Tricia Thompson, a registered dietitian and founder of Gluten Free Watchdog.

“The only ‘real’ GFD is a medically prescribed gluten-free diet,” Thompson suggests, adding that gluten-free does not mean grain-free or low carbohydrate.

It’s also worth noting that some of the most popular diets that people may claim to be GFDs are actually not gluten-free, adds Dr. Cash. This includes the keto diet, Mediterranean diet, low FODMAP diet or paleo diet.

While these diets tend to be lower in carbohydrates and grains that contain gluten, they do not completely eliminate the chance you may be exposed to gluten, so they’re not a therapeutic option for people who medically have to follow a GFD, experts say.

Foods to Avoid on a Gluten-Free Diet

Someone on a GFD avoids all products made with wheat or other gluten-containing grains, including common foods and drinks like:

Bread products (e.g., bagels, pizza dough)
Breakfast cereals

Products such as sauces, dressings, seasonings, soups, gravies, meat substitutes, flavored teas and processed meats may also have gluten-containing ingredients. An example of something that might not be obvious but should be considered on a GFD is soy sauce, which typically contains wheat, says Dr. Ehrlich. Additionally, non-food items, like medications and supplements, should also be checked for “gluten-free” labeling while following a GFD.

Identifying wheat, rye or barley ingredients on the nutrition facts label, or looking for terms like “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “free of…

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