Eating gluten-free is a subject close to my heart. I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease 10 years ago so I have first hand experience living with this condition and the dietary restrictions that go with it. For those with Coeliac Disease, the only treatment is to adhere strictly to a gluten free diet.
Many people are also choosing to eat gluten-free to improve their health, lose weight or reduce the gastrointestinal issues like bloating and fatigue they experience.
While this might be the right choice for those individuals, restricting any food group has the potential to be harmful if you don’t make sure you replace the restricted foods with other foods providing the same nutrients. It wasn’t until I started studying nutritional medicine that I realised my gluten-free diet was not nutritionally adequate.
Research backs this up with internationally recognised Australian researcher and expert in coeliac disease, Dr Sue Shepherd, releasing a paper on this subject in 2012. Her research found that  people on a gluten free diet often have inadequate intake of fibre, folate, Vitamin B1, Vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron.
The choice of gluten free foods is important. If you replace a whole grain wheat bread with a gluten free bread based on refined corn/maize and white rice flours then the choice is not necessarily a healthier choice. You might reduce your gastrointestinal symptoms but you’ll be missing out on fibre,magnesium, iron and B vitamins. Choosing natural, whole foods rather than processed foods is always the best option.
The other important factor here is to seek help in establishing the cause of gastrointestinal symptoms experienced as they can be related to a number of factors including wheat allergy, lactose intolerance, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, stress, FODMAPs or Irritable Bowel Syndrome to name just a few.
If you’re experiencing gastrointestinal issues, don’t self diagnose and embark on restrictive eating! Seek help from a qualified health professional to determine the cause of your symptoms and find the right treatment.

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