Woman selecting pizza

What exactly is gluten? And why are so many people eliminating it from their diet? Let's take a good, hard look at the facts and see if you, too, should go gluten-free.

5 Reasons to be gluten-free

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye products. It helps dough rise and gives bread that elastic texture. Interestingly enough, according to USA Today about 25 percent of people are gluten-free, but only 1 percent of the population actually suffers from celiac disease and needs to be gluten-free. The other 24 percent are either allergic to gluten or have gluten intolerance. There's no way to diagnose this other than the patient telling the doctor about their symptoms. Common symptoms include bloating and fatigue after eating gluten, followed by forgetfulness. If you do experience these symptoms on a regular basis, you may want to try eliminating gluten to see if it makes a difference. Here are some other reasons you may want to try a gluten-free lifestyle.

It's convenient

Nowadays, living a gluten-free lifestyle is common, which makes it convenient. You don't need to travel to different grocery stores and never eat out as, typically, there are gluten-free options at most restaurants. You can still cook the same foods — including pizzas and pastas — only you'll be using gluten-free pizza dough and gluten-free pasta.

It can be healthier

Keyword — it can be healthier. Most people assume that because the label says "gluten free," it's healthier. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, most people who switch to a gluten-free diet gain weight at first. In order for it to be healthy, you need to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and protein. Don't think because you're snacking on gluten-free cake all day you're being healthy!

It can reduce depression

If you have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten, you may feel depressed. The good news is that gluten and depression are linked. Try eliminating gluten from your diet to not only make your stomach feel better, but also you mind.

Check out other ways to reduce your risk of depression >>

It can make you avoid getting celiac disease

Woman with stomach pain

Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that's triggered by gluten. If you don't eat gluten, the disease won't be able to progress. If this disease runs in your family, it's better to be safe than sorry and start living a gluten-free lifestyle as soon as possible, especially considering how convenient the U.S. has made it to be gluten-free.

Learn more about celiac disease >>

It can reduce pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis, remove gluten from you diet and see if you feel better. Eliminating gluten from your diet is shown to reduce pain levels. If you do have chronic pain, make sure to talk to your doctor about celiac disease and eliminating gluten from your diet.

Common foods that contain gluten

  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Bagels
  • Pizza crust
  • Lunch meat
  • Beer
  • Potato chips
  • Candy
  • French fries

Foods naturally free of gluten

  • Quinoa
  • Hummus
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Soy milk
  • Yogurt
  • Coconut
  • Honey
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables

Tell us

Are you gluten-free? Was it an easy or hard transition? Share in the comments below!

More gluten-free recipes

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Salted soft pretzels
Tuna and black olive pizza

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Comments

Comments on "Should you eliminate gluten?"

Charlotte April 04, 2013 | 10:13 PM

I avoid gluten and my symptoms improve so I seem to be gluten sensitive. I'm wondering whether I need to avoid all gluten or just most gluten?

Hannah March 08, 2013 | 4:34 PM

Thank you for this. I've been debating going gluten-free for awhile now. I think I may try it out for a few weeks and see if I can tell a difference.

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