A lot of people are “going gluten-free” these days. For some, a gluten-free diet translates to better health. For people who suffer with gastrointestinal disorders such as celiac disease, the benefits of a gluten-free diet can be life changing, says G. Shelton McMullan, MD, a gastroenterologist at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.
“Gluten is a protein found in wheat and barley that is indigestible. Individuals with celiac disease may have adverse side effects from consuming gluten such as bloating and diarrhea,” explains Dr. McMullan. “Many of the symptoms parallel those experienced by individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. There’s also evidence suggesting that people without celiac disease can be sensitive to gluten.”
But as long as they don’t consume any foods containing gluten, individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can live a relatively normal life.
“There is a lot of gluten in the traditional diet, making it difficult to cut out,” notes Dr. McMullan. “It’s in everything from frozen vegetables to soy sauces to even medications. For example, a lot of ingredients that say, ‘natural flavorings’ have barley as a base. To eliminate gluten from your diet, you need to scour food labels.”
Today, many people choose to go gluten-free in hopes of feeling better. “But following a truly gluten-free diet is extremely difficult and can lead to deficiencies of important vitamins and minerals,” Dr. McMullan notes. “Being tested for celiac disease can be as simple as having your blood drawn. I suggest you find out if you have the condition before you make the effort to go gluten-free.”
For a physician referral, please call 443-777-2475.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
Center for Digestive Disease
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237