Thursday, April 17, 2014

Is a Gluten-Free Diet a Cleaner, and Healthier Way to Eat?

Dr. Lydia Kaume, nutrition and health education specialist
Headquartered in Barton County
Tel: (417) 682-3579

LAMAR, Mo. -- There are individuals that need to consume a gluten-free diet but it is not a recommended diet for everyone according to Dr. Lydia Kaume, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Some examples of foods containing gluten include: baked goods, breads, products containing flour, beers, ales, gravies, pretzels, crackers, some chips, soy sauce, cornstarch, malts, candies and chocolates, cereals, thickened soups, vegetable starch, and processed meats.

“Although gluten is mainly in foods some medicines, nutritional supplements, lip balm, and glue on stamps and envelopes may contain traces. Reading an ingredients list on the food label will be important in determine which foods have gluten in them,” said Kaume.

Gluten-Free diet sometimes known as the GF-diet is recommended only for individuals who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or have a wheat allergy according to Kaume.


“Celiac disease is genetic and is diagnosed by blood tests and exams of tissue from the small intestine,” said Kaume.

Individuals diagnosed with Celiac disease have a delayed immune-mediated reaction to gluten. This results in intestinal damage and inflammation leading to poor absorption of nutrients.  The prolonged inflammation damages the wall of the small intestines and may lead to weight loss (due to poor absorption of nutrients), bloating and sometimes diarrhea.

“A strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and prevent malnutrition that can occur when the body is deprived of vital nourishment,” said Kaume.

Individuals diagnosed with a wheat allergy have a different immune response when consuming wheat. Barley and rye may or may not affect persons diagnosed with a wheat allergy depending on whether or not they have been exposed to wheat.

While Celiac disease results in gastrointestinal problems, a wheat allergy could also include skin irritation and breathing difficulties.


The gluten-free diet is a therapeutic diet to prevent these negative responses by the body when gluten is consumed in these individuals.

“It is recommended that gluten-free diets only be followed by those individuals who have been medically tested by a physician to be gluten intolerant or have a wheat allergy,” said Kaume.

If an individual unnecessarily, and without a medical reason, chooses to be on a gluten-free diet, they would miss-out on vital nutrients and benefits that come with consumption of gluten-containing products.

“If consumed in their whole forms, gluten-containing grain products are generally rich in mainly fiber and B vitamins and enriched or fortified with many B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, and calcium,” said Kaume.

In addition, gluten containing grain products foods have sterols and stanols that contribute to decreasing the risk of heart disease.

“It is a becoming a generally common misconception that a gluten-free diet helps one lose weight or is a much healthier or natural diet that is good for anyone. Research shows this is not the case. However, individuals who think they may have a reaction to gluten need to consult with their physician and contact a Registered Dietitian for help on how to manage their symptoms,” said Kaume.


For more information on nutrition, go online to or contact one of the nutrition and health specialists working in the Ozarks: Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545


Post a Comment

Let us know how you have been helped by this article or what you have learned from this story.

<< Home