Fitness Beware: Gluten-Free Diet May Not Be Suitable for Everyone

First Posted: May 16, 2016 06:32 AM EDT

For those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is a non-negotiable way of life. However, health experts warned that for those without the condition, going gluten free does not have any proven benefits.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body mistakenly reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barely, and rye, as if it were a poison. Statistics show that the condition affects at least one in 133 people, though not all have been diagnosed. For those who have, however, they try their very best not to get "glutened."

According to, Sue Sandy of Jackson Township, who is chairwoman of the Stark County Celiac Group, explained that if people with the conditioned are glutened, their small intestine shuts down which can last from 3 to 6 months. "The only way to reverse this is to strictly eat gluten-free. The risk is malnutrition because the intestine won't absorb the necessary vitamins and minerals to supply our bodies. Our symptoms can differ person to person."

Sandy also said that people sometimes suffer from severe stomach cramps and flu-like symptoms for days. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease, such as a parent, child, or sibling have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease. And like with any medical condition, licensed and registered dietitian at Affinity Medical Center Nancy Kazakis encourages people to get as much information as they can about celiac disease.

It was mentioned that Kazakis is concerned that people will think they have celiac disease and may turn to gluten-free diet before they even get diagnosed and this may affect the result of the bloodwork when they get tested.

The Sun mentioned that from 2013-2015, the gluten free industry have boomed and grew by 136 percent. Experts say that it is due to healthy people cutting out all gluten from their diets. However, they warn that for those without celiac disease or wheat allergy, there will not be any benefits in cutting gluten from their diet, and this action may in fact have a negative effect on a person's health. They need to be aware that going gluten-free means they need to make up for vitamins and nutrients often missing in gluten-free foods. It's not an easy diet to follow, Kazakis said.

"Truly, it's not a diet you want to follow unless you have to follow it," Kazakis said. "Even without seeing symptoms you're causing damage. Your body is not tolerating gluten. Wheat, barley, rye, farina, bulgur and malt - those grains cause this reaction because of this protein and so it starts to cause damage to the lining of the small intestine, where we absorb most of our nutrients."

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