A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains. It is mainly prescribed for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption.
A gluten-free diet eliminates foods like bread, pasta, crackers, and baked goods made with wheat flour, as well as foods that contain wheat derivatives like semolina, bulgur, durum, and spelt. It also excludes barley, rye, and some oats. Gluten-free alternatives are used instead, like rice, corn, quinoa, buckwheat, and gluten-free oats. Additionally, a gluten-free diet can include naturally gluten-free foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds.
It is important for people following a gluten-free diet to carefully read food labels and ingredient lists to ensure that products are free of gluten. Some products may contain hidden sources of gluten, such as modified food starch, malt flavoring, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
A gluten-free diet can be a healthy and nutritious way of eating, but it is important to ensure that the diet is well-balanced and includes a variety of foods to meet nutrient needs. It is recommended to work with a registered dietitian to develop a gluten-free meal plan and ensure that nutrient needs are being met.