5 Myths about Gluten Free Eating and Celiac Disease
There has been a lot said in the last few years about gluten-free eating. While a lot of people are making the choice to eliminate gluten as a lifestyle choice, much like becoming a vegetarian or vegan, for others the need to eat gluten-free is due to having been diagnosed with celiac disease. Here are five common myths about gluten-free eating and celiac disease.
Having a “Gluten Allergy”
How often have you heard or said, “I can’t eat that, I have a gluten allergy”? This is a misnomer as there is no such thing as a gluten allergy. Someone can have a wheat allergy, and gluten is present in wheat, however it is not possible to be allergic to gluten itself. People who have celiac disease have an inability to break down the gluten protein when it’s present in the small intestine, this can then prevent nutrients from being absorbed. It also can lead to gastrointestinal issues, bone pain, and even skin rashes.
If You Are Gluten Free You Can’t Eat Whole Grains
Yes many of the whole grains we know best like wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten but there are still many others that do not. Some of the other whole grains that are gluten-free include;
- Oats (make sure to check that it’s not been cut using flour)
Buying the highest quality and purest forms of these grains will give you the best health benefits.
Gluten is a Grain
Gluten is a protein found in seeds. It helps nourish plants as they’re growing. Once plants that contain gluten are harvested gluten is the component of flours that make dough elastic and chewy.
Meat Has No Gluten
If you’re purchasing meat that has been processed in anyway, such as sausages, hot dogs, chicken nuggets etc, then there is a good chance gluten is present. Many manufacturers use gluten as a binder in foods such as these. Even lunchmeats sometimes have gluten present. There is mixed opinion about normal meats such as hamburger or chicken. Some people with celiac disease report feeling ill after eating grain fed meat. If you’re concerned, it’s best to stick with grass fed, organic meats.
I Can Diagnose Myself with Celiac Disease
Many people who suspect they may have celiac disease try a gluten free diet for several weeks to determine if they feel better. If they feel better then they believe they have celiac disease and go forward. The truth is the only way to know you have celiac disease is to be tested. A doctor can complete a simple blood draw to view your levels. If elevated they most likely will then order a biopsy of your small intestine to verify. It’s important to do this as there is no other way to really know. If you have celiac disease your healthcare professional may want to monitor you more closely for other health problems such as malabsorption, vitamin deficiencies, and malnutrition all of which can occur in people with celiac disease.
Many people experience very positive benefits from eating gluten-free. However, it’s important to distinguish between the choice of a gluten-free diet and the seriousness of having celiac disease for long-term health.