Benefits beyond gluten free
Numerous studies tout the health benefits of the Mediterranean style of eating. The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines highlighted the diet as an example of a healthy eating pattern. “Studies repeatedly demonstrated that people who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, slower cognitive decline in aging and lower risk of cancers,” explains Toups. “Though wheat has a rich history in Mediterranean cuisine in the forms of pasta, wheat, spelt and breads, patients with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can still honor the principles of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid by making gluten-free whole grains, legumes, olive oil, vegetables and fruit the foundation of their meals.”
The gluten-free diet is often lacking in nutrients such as fiber, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamin D. “A Mediterranean diet is a great way to supply some of the nutrients that a standard gluten-free diet is lacking,” according to Toups. “This study found that celiac patients who followed a gluten-free diet based on the Mediterranean diet improved their nutritional status without inducing overweight or obesity.”
Weight gain on the gluten-free diet is common, and for many patients, those extra pounds can be distressing. The Mediterranean diet may be helpful in improving nutrition, without the weight gain. “In this small, 76-person study, two of the four malnourished celiac patients were able to reach a healthy body mass index without becoming overweight or obese,” says Toups.
Click below to learn about all the awesome gluten-free whole grains.