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Should You Really Go Gluten-Free?

By Genevieve Cunningham

Gluten-free has been all the rage over the past few years. Everywhere you look, there are gluten-free diets and cookbooks and advice. It's extremely popular, and more and more people are beginning to wonder whether it's the way to live the healthiest life. But is it really necessary? Or is it more of a trend? The answer is complicated. If you've been considering switching to a gluten-free diet, take a look at this quick guide to determine whether you need to go gluten-free. 

Celiac Disease

Those who are truly intolerant of gluten suffer from a disease known as celiac disease. Those who suffer from this disease have an immune response to gluten -- a protein found in certain foods. The small intestine detects the gluten as an allergen and attacks it, which can cause swelling in the intestines, problems with digestion, and other side effects. 

Gluten Sensitivity

Others aren't necessarily allergic to gluten, but their bodies still respond in a negative way to the protein. This group may suffer from many of the same symptoms -- especially stomach discomfort and bloating -- but will test negative for Celiac. Those who fall into this group often discover the sensitivity on an elimination diet. They'll go without gluten, notice the massive difference in the way their bodies feel, and continue the diet because of the improvements. 

Why Do Gluten-Free Diets Work?

You've probably noticed that those who claim to be gluten-free are often thin and holding a healthy weight. Why? While it's easy to say that gluten is the actual cause of the weight loss, it's more likely that those following a gluten-free diet are consuming fewer carbohydrates. And as we all know, a diet that is lower in carbohydrates is often better for weight loss. It's also possible that the gluten was causing general inflammation in the body -- even without an allergy. As less gluten is consumed, the inflammation goes down and the body appears more slender. 

So Should You Go Gluten-Free?

Unless you suffer from an intolerance or sensitivity, it's unnecessary to go gluten-free. If you like the idea and want to give it a try, go ahead! Removing gluten from your diet likely won't hurt you, and may even help you lose weight due to the change in diet. Gluten-free is a lifestyle, and one that can work. If you have any concerns, just ask your doctor for advice, and then find the diet -- no matter what that is -- that can help you maintain good health for the rest of your life. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Smyrna, Ga.

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