Gluten-free foods have become a fad and there is plenty of debate regarding the health benefits and risks of going gluten free even if you don’t have gluten intolerance. However, a gluten-free diet is an absolute must for those suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Gluten is present in almost all foods from bread and cereals to snacks, beverages and even sauces. While this can make it hard you to avoid products containing gluten altogether, it’s well worth the effort.
There are plenty of myths about the gluten-free diet but the one thing that is certain is that it offers tremendous health benefits for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Here are a few of the health benefits of following a gluten-free diet.
Improves energy levels
People who have gluten sensitivity often suffer from chronic fatigue. This is because consuming gluten products damages their intestines which in turn impairs the absorption of several nutrients including iron. This iron deficiency leads to anemia which results in debilitating fatigue and exertion intolerance. Switching to a gluten-free diet, will give your intestines a chance to heal and this will restore nutrient absorption and improve your energy levels.
Promotes healthy weight gain
The symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance include diarrhea, bloating, gas and fatigue – which can seem rather vague and so the condition can go undiagnosed for decades. This results in nutritional deficiencies and in many cases, severe and uncontrolled weight loss. A gluten-free diet will help you regain lost weight as well as eliminate these nutritional deficiencies.
If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you are likely to experience excess gas and bloating after eating foods that contain gluten. When you switch to a gluten-free diet, you will notice an immediate difference as your digestive distress will disappear and your stomach will be visibly flatter after your meal.
Reduces joint pain
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are generally associated with the gastrointestinal tract, but they can have far reaching effects. Since celiac disease causes an abnormal immune reaction, it increases the risk of inflammation. This is why joint pain, especially in the knees, back and wrists is a common symptom of celiac disease. A gluten-free diet will help to prevent this type of joint pain but take steps to ensure that you do not ingest even a small amount of gluten as it can result in a recurrence of your symptoms.
Reduces the frequency of headaches
Over the last couples of decades, scientists have discovered that the gut and brain are closely connected and there are several studies underway to discover the exact implications of this gut-brain connection. It is clear that people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease are more likely to experience migraine headaches. However, studies show that switching to a gluten-free diet can help to reduce the frequency of these headaches.
People with celiac disease are more likely to suffer from depression. However, researchers found that following a gluten free diet has a favorable effect on depression symptoms and can help to improve a patient’s quality of life.
Reduces lactose tolerance
People who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance often exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance as well. This is because the lining of the gut produces the enzyme lactase which breaks down the lactose found in dairy products. People with a gluten intolerance suffer from damage to the gut which impairs lactase production. However, this effect is temporary, and a gluten-free diet will promote gut health and reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Improves bone health
Undiagnosed celiac disease patients often suffer from severe calcium deficiencies due to the malabsorption of nutrients. This calcium malabsorption is linked to an increased risk of bone problems such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. However, researchers found that celiac patients who followed a gluten free diet experienced significant improvement in bone mineral density.
Improves skin health
People who have undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten intolerance are at a higher risk for rashes, including eczema and psoriasis. Following a gluten free diet can help to improve your overall skin health and even eliminate these skin problems.
Reduces hair loss
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have been linked to nutritional deficiencies which in turn cause hair loss. Starting a gluten free diet can help to reverse this type of hair loss, increase hair density and improve hair texture.
The symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance are similar to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. To reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis, doctors often recommend serology tests that look for specific antibodies in your blood. There is no cure for celiac disease and gluten intolerance, which means that you will need to permanently eliminate foods containing gluten from your diet.
Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and obesity. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.