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Should you avoid gluten?

Created date

June 19th, 2012

Gluten-free is a label you rarely saw on packaged foods in the past. Now, many products advertise their gluten-free status. Does this mean a gluten-free diet is better for your health? Gluten is made up of proteins found in wheat. It helps dough rise, contributes to bread s characteristic consistency, and augments flavor. The term gluten is also used to describe proteins found in rye, barley, and some other grains.

Celiac disease

The only people who need to avoid gluten are those with celiac disease. This is a condition in which the body s defense systems react to the presence of gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. When this lining is damaged, some nutrients aren t absorbed. Complications such as anemia and osteoporosis may develop. According to the National Institutes of Health, celiac disease affects about 1% of the U.S. population. Gluten-free does not mean that a food is low in fat, sodium, or sugar. There are no nutritional benefits for someone who is not sensitive to gluten to steer clear of it. Some people who do not have celiac disease may notice some intolerance to wheat, especially as they age. If this is the case, you may want to stick to a gluten-free diet.

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