Should You Go Gluten-Free? Better Ask Your PCP

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vegetablesThe gluten-free craze has been sweeping the supermarket aisles and restaurant tables across the nation over the past few years. That’s great news for those with a diagnosed gluten intolerance that’s being treated by an internal medicine physician. However, does that mean gluten intolerance is becoming more prevalent?

Not necessarily, say many internal medicine physicians and medical researchers. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association recently found that only 1 percent of people around the world suffer from celiac disease, the condition that causes gluten intolerance. Thankfully, they also found the rate of celiac disease diagnoses didn’t show signs of increasing.

What Is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten is a name for the proteins found in many grains, but can also be used as an ingredient in processed foods to help them retain shape and solidity. Most dietary gluten comes from:

  • Wheat
  • Wheat derivatives, like spelt
  • Rye
  • Barley, including malt
  • Triticale
  • Brewer’s Yeast

Celiac disease is a genetic condition that prevents a person’s digestive tract from processing gluten. The inability to properly digest gluten is what an internal medicine physician would call gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease is a serious condition. Fortunately, it only affects a relatively small percentage of people.

Can a Gluten-Free Diet Still Help?

You may wonder if a gluten-free diet can be beneficial even if you don’t suffer from celiac disease. The answer could be both yes and no. While cutting gluten from your diet will not offer any health benefits if you don’t have celiac disease, cutting out excessive baked goods and the refined sugar that typically goes along with them can have a positive impact on your health.

If you find you’re constantly tired, have trouble concentrating or face other persistent issues that can’t be easily contributed to a specific health concern, an elimination diet could reveal food sensitivities—like gluten intolerance—as a potential culprit. However, you should always check first with your internal medicine physician or PCP doctor before making any major changes to your diet or lifestyle.