Gluten-free Diet

A gluten-free diet can be any diet plan that excludes foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and other grains that may trigger an unwanted response in the body.1

A gluten-free diet is important for people suffering from gluten-allergy and celiac disease, a medical condition that causes intestinal damage when gluten is digested.2

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Who should eat gluten-free diets?

People suffering from the following conditions should avoid gluten in their diet.

Celiac disease

People affected with celiac disease should eat a strict gluten-free diet because eating gluten triggers the immune system and damages the intestinal lining, which decreases the absorption of nutrients.3

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity

This condition resembles celiac disease, but there is no damage to the intestinal wall lining. However, abdominal pain, foggy brain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are likely to occur.

Gluten Ataxia

Gluten ataxia is an autoimmune disorder that affects nerves and causes muscle control and movement problems.

Wheat allergy

The immune system may respond to wheat gluten as a foreign body, like virus and bacteria that produces antibodies against gluten. As a result, allergy symptoms appear.

It is difficult to eliminate processed foods containing gluten, but it is necessary for symptom relief. Fortunately, there are naturally gluten-free foods to choose from, such as:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Beans, nuts, and legumes
  • Dairy products

How to check if food is gluten-free

Foods made from wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten. Before buying a product, take a close look at the ingredients label to confirm that it is a gluten-free product. Any product that says it contains wheat is not gluten-free.

Gut Bacteria, Prebiotic Fiber, and Wheat

Wheat and wheat products provide more than 80% of prebiotic plant fiber to consumers. Prebiotics are necessary ingredients to maintain a specific number of beneficial gut bacteria.3 Such beneficial bacteria play an important role in digestion, absorption, strengthening immunity, lowering blood triglycerides, and increasing calcium and other nutrients.

People who eat gluten-free diets may face additional health issues because of the low intake of oligofructose and inulin ingredients. Therefore, it is best to manage the diet in such a manner to provide the body with all essential nutrients to ensure better health.4 A physician will be able to help you find the right diet for your health.

How to get started on a gluten-free diet

  • Check for warnings on packages. Many products don't directly contain gluten, but they may be processed in a facility with gluten products.5
  • Keep gluten-free kitchen utensils and cutting boards separate from others.
  • Read the food ingredients label carefully to ensure the product is gluten-free.
  • Substitute oat, quinoa, buckwheat, and other alternative grain flour for wheat flour in cooking and baking.

Be Cautious!

  • Do not use any product that contains wheat, barley, or rye.
  • Alternative products are considered safe, such as corn, potato, rice, soybeans, tapioca, arrowroot, carob, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa.
  • Distilled white vinegar is gluten-free, but malt vinegar contains gluten.
  • The following products contain gluten:
  • Malt vinegar—unless made from corn
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Flour and cereal products
  • Modified food starch
  • Vegetable gums
  • Soy sauce

Be on the lookout for any of the following words on food labels. These products contain gluten and will cause a reaction if eaten.

  • Stabilizer
  • Starch
  • Flavoring
  • Emulsifier
  • Hydrolyzed
  • Plant Protein
Gluten-free Diets
Prebiotic Plant Fiber Oligofructose and Inulin
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Onion, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, chicory root, jicama, dandelion, banana, agave, jams, Prebiotin Wheat, barley, rye
Milk and Milk products
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Whole, low-fat, skim, dry, evaporated, or condensed milk; buttermilk; cream; whipping cream; Velveeta cheese food; American cheese; all aged cheese such as Cheddar, Swiss, Edam, and Parmesan Sour cream, commercial chocolate milk, non-dairy creamers, all other cheese products, yogurt Malted drinks
Proteins, Meat, or Meat Substitutes
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
100% meat (no grain additives), seafood, poultry (breaded with pure cornmeal, potato flour, or rice flour), peanut butter, eggs, dried beans or peas Meat patties, canned meat, sausages, cold cuts, bologna, hot dogs, stew, hamburger, chili, commercial omelets, soufflés, fondue, soy protein, meat substitutes Croquettes, breaded fish, chicken loaves made with bread or bread crumbs, breaded or floured meats, meatloaf, meatballs, pizza, ravioli, gluten stabilizers
Bread and Grains
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Cream of rice, cornmeal, hominy, rice, wild rice, gluten-free noodles, rice wafers, pure corn tortillas, specially prepared bread (made with corn, rice, potato, soybean, tapioca, arrowroot, carob, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa flour) Packaged rice mixes, cornbread, ready-to-eat cereals containing malt flavoring Bread, buns, rolls, biscuits, muffins, crackers, and cereals (containing wheat, wheat germ, oats, barley, rye, bran, graham flour, malt), kasha, bulgur, Melba toast, matzo, bread crumbs, pastry, pizza dough, regular noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and other pasta, rusks, dumplings, zwieback, pretzels, prepared mixes for waffles and pancakes, bread stuffing or filling
Fats and Oils
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Butter, margarine, vegetable oil, shortening, lard Salad dressings, non-dairy creamers, mayonnaise Gravy and cream sauces thickened with flour
Proteins, Meat, or Meat Substitutes
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
100% meat (no grain additives), seafood, poultry (breaded with pure cornmeal, potato flour, or rice flour), peanut butter, eggs, dried beans or peas Meat patties, canned meat, sausages, cold cuts, bologna, hot dogs, stew, hamburger, chili, commercial omelets, soufflés, fondue, soy protein, meat substitutes Croquettes, breaded fish, chicken loaves made with bread or bread crumbs, breaded or floured meats, meatloaf, meatballs, pizza, ravioli, gluten stabilizers
Fruits
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Plain, fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit; all fruit juices Pie fillings, thickened or prepared fruit, fruit fillings None
Vegetables
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables, white and sweet potatoes, yams Vegetables with sauces, commercially prepared vegetables, salads, canned baked beans, pickles, marinated vegetables, commercially seasoned vegetables Creamed or breaded vegetables, those prepared with wheat, rye, oats, barley, or gluten stabilizers
Snacks and Desserts
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Brown and white sugar, rennet, fruit whips, gelatin, jelly, jam, honey, molasses, pure cocoa, fruit ice, carob Custards, puddings, ice cream, ices, sherbet, pie fillings, candies, chocolate, chewing gum, cocoa, potato chips, popcorn Cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, dumplings, ice cream cones, pies, prepared cake and cookie mixes, pretzels, bread pudding
Beverages
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Tea, carbonated beverages (except root beer), fruit juices, mineral and carbonated waters, wines, instant or ground coffee Cocoa mixes, root beer, chocolate drinks, nutritional supplements, beverage mixes Postum™, Ovaltine™, malt-containing drinks, cocoa malt, beer, ale
Soups
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Those made with allowed ingredients Commercially prepared soups, broths, soup mixes, bouillon cubes Soups thickened with wheat flour or gluten-containing grains; soup containing barley, pasta, or noodles
Thickening Agents
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Gelatin, arrowroot starch, corn flour germ or bran, potato flour, potato starch flour, rice bran, rice flour, rice polish, soy flour, tapioca, sago Commercially prepared soups, broths, soup mixes, bouillon cubes Wheat starch; all flours (containing wheat, oats, rye, malt, barley, or graham flour), all-purpose flour, white flour, wheat flour, bran, cracker meal, Durham flour, wheat germ
Condiments
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Gluten-free soy sauce, distilled white vinegar, olives, pickles, relish, ketchup Flavoring syrups (for pancakes or ice cream), mayonnaise, horseradish, salad dressings, tomato sauces, meat sauce, mustard, taco sauce, soy sauce, chip dips
Seasonings
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Salt, pepper, herbs, flavored extracts, food coloring, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, monosodium glutamate Curry powder, seasoning mixes, meat extracts Synthetic pepper, brewer’s yeast (unless prepared with a sugar molasses base), yeast extract (contains barley)
Medicines
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
All medicines – Check with pharmacist or pharmaceutical company.
Medicines
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
All medicines – Check with pharmacist or pharmaceutical company.
Seasonings
NO Gluten MAY Contain Gluten DOES Contain Gluten
Salt, pepper, herbs, flavored extracts, food coloring, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, monosodium glutamate Curry powder, seasoning mixes, meat extracts Synthetic pepper, brewer’s yeast (unless prepared with a sugar molasses base), yeast extract (contains barley)
Sample Menu Step 3
Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Cream of rice 1/2 cup
  • Skim milk 1 cup
  • Banana 1 medium
  • Orange juice 1/2 cup
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Baked chicken 3 oz
  • Rice 1/2 cup
  • Green beans 1/2 cup
  • Apple juice 1/2 cup
  • Ice cream 1/2 cup
  • * Ice cream should be made without wheat stabilizers.
  • Sirloin steak 3 oz
  • Baked potato 1 medium
  • Peas 1/2 cup
  • Fruit gelatin 1/2 cup
  • Butter 1 Tb
  • Tea 1 cup
  • Sugar 1 tsp
This sample diet provides the following: 1,748 calories; 77 g protein; 225 g carbohydrates; 62 g fat; 1,577 mg sodium; 2,934 mg potassium

References

  1. Leonard MM, Sapone A, Catassi C, Fasano A. Celiac Disease and Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: A Review. JAMA. 2017;318(7):647-656. doi:10.1001/JAMA.2017.9730
  2. Kutlu T. Gluten-free diet: is it really always beneficial? Turkish Arch Pediatr Pediatr Arşivi. 2019;54(2):73. doi:10.14744/TURKPEDIATRIARS.2019.82609
  3. Davani-Davari D, Negahdaripour M, Karimzadeh I, et al. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods. 2019;8(3). doi:10.3390/FOODS8030092
  4. Norström F, Sandström O, Lindholm L, Ivarsson A. A gluten-free diet effectively reduces symptoms and health care consumption in a Swedish celiac disease population. BMC Gastroenterol. 2012;12:125. doi:10.1186/1471-230X-12-125
  5. Thompson T. Gluten contamination of commercial oat products in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2004;351(19):2021-2022. doi:10.1056/NEJM200411043511924

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