The Side Effects of The Gluten-Free Diet

Celiac disease is a condition where the food and calories cannot be absorbed by the body. For celiac patients, even those without obvious symptoms, sticking to the gluten-free diet can prevent serious medical conditions. However, avoiding gluten does not ensure a completely healthy diet. Keep in mind the following issues when planning your meals.

Weight gain

Villi is the line in the small intestines. Damage to this line is a sure sign of celiac disease. After a time on the gluten diet, the intestines begin to heal and thus the nutrients that are in food are absorbed again. Even though you are not consuming anymore calories than when you were eating gluten, weight gain is a great possibility.

In fact, for people who had been too thin before their diagnosis, studies have shown that there is an increased risk for obesity on a gluten-free diet. At this point, calorie counting plays a crucial part.

Poor vitamin status

Newly diagnosed celiac patients usually have nutrient deficiencies. To make things worse, gluten-free foods are usually low in B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber.

Swedish researchers who studied adult celiac patients who had been gluten-free for 10 years found that half of the patients had vitamin deficiencies, including low levels of vitamin B-6 or folate, or both, and high levels of homocysteine, a common risk factor for heart attacks, vascular disease, and strokes.

Before these findings, celiac patients had biopsies to show that their intestines have healed. 

Increase in cholesterol levels

Since the gluten-free diet causes the intestines to heal and to once again be able to absorb nutrients, cholesterols are also included. Thus, when choosing foods for your meals, it is important to check the nutrition facts for gluten and fat and cholesterol content.

Foods high in soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol levels. Foods high in soluble fiber include (gluten-free) oats, rice bran, citrus fruits, strawberries, beans and peas.

Diarrhea and constipation

Gluten-free, low-fiber foods can lead to constipation. This happens for instance when you replace bread and pasta with only processed white rice. On the other hand, if you add too much fiber-rich grains and beans in your diet too soon, you may develop diarrhea and gassiness.