Why You Shouldn’t Just Go Gluten-Free

avoiding gluten“It has become increasingly common to ‘try’ a gluten-free diet for many other reasons that are not celiac disease. Some of these reasons are poorly supported by facts.”

  • Dr Justine Turner, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition and CCA Professional Advisory Council Member. 1

A gluten-free diet is not a good strategy to lose weight as it can actually be high in saturated fat and simple sugars without careful dietary guidance. There are many other common conditions, where gluten is not well tolerated.

In fact gluten is hard to digest and can cause many people who do not have celiac disease to have bloating or abdominal pain. However, these individuals might tolerate lesser amounts of gluten and are not at risk for the lifelong complications of celiac disease, like malabsorption and poor bone health.

As it’s not easy to be on a gluten-free diet all day every day, and because gluten-free food can be expensive, most people who try the diet don’t actually stick to it 100% forever.

  • Celiac disease is a disorder of the immune system, where the individual affected does not tolerate gluten, a common part of our Canadian diet, present in wheat, barley and rye. This is the only disease that requires a 100% lifelong gluten-free diet.

If you have celiac disease to be on the diet forever is critical to staying healthy and so you really want to know the truth. To get the diagnosis right, it’s very important that the screening blood test and the diagnostic endoscopy test both be done while you are still eating gluten. If gluten is stopped, it can become very difficult to get the diagnosis right.

You need to know for sure if you have a chronic illness and need a strict lifelong gluten-free diet, or can you tolerate ‘some’ gluten now or maybe in the future. If you suspect you have celiac disease ask your doctor for the blood test to be done.

Remember, a positive the blood test warns your doctor that you might have celiac disease, but it does not prove you have the disease. It can be wrong. Keep eating gluten until the right test for you is completed, which is usually an endoscopy and biopsy test.

The Canadian Celiac Association is the national voice for people who are adversely affected by gluten, and is dedicated to improving diagnosis and quality of life. They welcome all Canadians with “a gluten problem.” Learn more at www.celiac.ca

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