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The gluten-free diet: Is it for you?

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Carol Berg Sloan, RD

Judy Dantoc

Carol Berg Sloan, RD

I am now a preceptor for the Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) at Cal State San Bernardino. In working with dietetics students, I encourage them to translate science into practical news for consumers. Judy Dantoc, dietetics student at California State University San Bernardino, is the guest columnist for this issue:

The number of families dealing with the gluten-free diet is increasing, as celiac disease is the most common chronic disease among children. The gluten-free diet is also increasing in popularity among the general population. Although the diet is intended for patients with celiac disease or gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it has been endorsed for weight loss and an overall healthier lifestyle. Understanding the diet and its consequences will help you determine if this diet is for you.
Gluten is a protein composite consisting of gliadins and glutenins, and is found in wheat, barley, and rye. In celiac disease, gluten causes inflammation and damage to the small intestines that may lead to malnutrition, lean body mass, and anemia. Gluten-sensitivity is a heightened immunologic reaction to gluten. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal distress. The gluten-free diet improves these symptoms, but it may take up to a year to completely resolve.
Adopting a gluten-free diet without a gluten-related disease has been in the headlines recently promoting weight loss and other assorted health benefits, but there can be unintended consequences. Currently there are no published reports of weight loss in persons without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity that are following this diet. In fact, studies show overweight or obese patients have gained weight. Why? Most likely due to the consumption of decreased amounts of complex carbohydrates (like fibrous breads and cereals) and increased intake of sugars and proteins, as some gluten-free products have greater energy value and low fiber. Bottom-line: if you think you have symptoms of celiac disease or a gluten intolerance or insensitivity, get a diagnosis from your physician. If you are diagnosed, see a registered dietitian so you understand the gluten-free diet. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that this is the latest healthy diet!

Simple gluten-free bread

• 2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
• ½ teaspoons sea salt
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 3 eggs
• 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
• ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven at 300° and grease a 6.5 x 4 inch loaf pan.
2. Combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, and then add agave nectar/honey, and apple cider vinegar.
4. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
5. Pour the batter into the greased pan, and place on the bottom rack of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool and serve.

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Serving Bixby Knolls, California Heights, Los Cerritos, Wrigley and Signal Hill
The gluten-free diet: Is it for you?