What Does Gluten Free Really Mean? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes added to products to thicken them. 1% of the population has what is known as Celiac Disease. For these people, the protein can damage the lining of the small intestines, weakening the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, which may then lead to mal-absorption and other health problems such as osteoporosis or even cancer. Another 6% of the population have a milder reaction to the protein, which causes gastrointestinal distress.
Before anyone places themselves on a gluten-free diet, they should consult with a physician and have the blood test done to diagnose this condition. There are quite a few gluten free products on the grocery store shelves, but many are low in fiber and contain extra calories from fats to improve their taste. If Celiac disease is positive, including fresh fruits and vegetables daily can help compensate for the low fiber content of gluten free products, and also keep calorie intake lower by not depending on too many gluten free products. Fruits and vegetables are also naturally low in fat and higher in vitamins and minerals.