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What You Should Know About Gluten
Gluten is becoming a major topic when it comes to health and nutrition, from allergies to the health factors to dieting. While many people have to avoid gluten for health reasons, it has also become popular to cut out gluten as a way to lose weight.
But do most people know what gluten is? Is it healthy to remove it from your diet if not necessary?
We wanted to bring awareness to this subject. To learn more about it, we interviewed two previous Saber Healthcare interns, Sara Hayes and Isabelle Mahalick.
We asked Hayes and Mahalick to tell us a little bit about themselves and their internship with Saber Healthcare.
Mahalick graduated from West Virginia University, and then went to Marywood University to complete her Master’s and Dietetic internship.
Hayes attended Marywood University on a track to complete her undergraduate degree, Master’s, and internship all in five years.
As Mahalick and Hayes were completing their Master’s, they both interned with Saber Healthcare at the same time. They learned a great amount during the internship, including the policies and practices in long term care. They also completed various assignments including news articles and Dietitian handouts.
Mahalick and Hayes wrote a news article highlighting Celiac disease and gluten. We asked them to share some of their knowledge about gluten, how it affects the body, and when it should be avoided.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. It acts as an adhesive that holds food together.
Gluten is common in many foods, even some that people may not realize. For example, wheat is usually found in baked goods, breads, pasta, cereal, and even sauces.
Gluten can also be found in some dairy products. When refraining from eating gluten, it is critical to always check packaging and labels to be sure whether or not the product contains gluten.
How does gluten affect someone’s diet?
Gluten can affect someone’s diet if their body has a negative reaction to it. For instance, Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Celiac disease causes the body’s immune system to attack the small intestine.
“With Celiac or a gluten intolerance, you have to make sure everything is cooked separately from gluten to ensure it doesn’t affect your digestive system,” Hayes stated.
Someone can also have a gluten intolerance without having Celiac disease.
“Some people do not have the specific enzyme to break down this protein, and that is when it is considered gluten-intolerance,” Mahalick said.
When should you be gluten-free?
We asked Mahalick and Hayes when someone should refrain from eating gluten, and if cutting gluten out of your diet is a healthy option.
Celiac disease is the most common reason people may need to cut gluten out of their diet. If someone is having issues with bloating when eating bread products, gluten, or wheat, this may be a sign there is distress in the stomach.
There may be other health issues that cause an intolerance to gluten. Antibiotics can take away gut bacteria, which might make it difficult for the body to process gluten.
Mahalick mentioned that some people may choose to avoid gluten for dieting reasons. They want to cut out carbs, but cutting out gluten is not necessary to cut back on carbs.
Mahalick and Hayes both shared that it is important to get the appropriate amount of carbs daily because this is what gives your body energy. If someone has to avoid gluten or chooses to cut it out, it is necessary to find substitutes that have carbohydrates.
“It’s very hard overall,” Hayes shared. “Being gluten-free doesn’t make a big difference in day-to-day life for someone who is not dealing with Celiac or an intolerance. It just makes it a little harder on you.”
Gluten-free food options
With many people who do struggle with a gluten intolerance, Mahalick and Hayes shared some easy, go-to gluten-free snack options with us.
- Carrots and hummus
- Apples and peanut butter
- Rice cakes
- Cheddar cheese
- Celery with ranch dip
They also said there are many gluten-free options available at grocery stores now, and some restaurants have gluten-free options on the menu.
Saber Healthcare Supports Furthering Education
Saber Healthcare is proud to support furthering knowledge on gluten and how it can impact someone’s diet and daily living.
Thank you, Isabelle Mahalick and Sara Hayes, for sharing your knowledge with us and helping us learn more about gluten.
Check with a medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms or considering a gluten-free diet.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “What is Gluten?” Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac.org. Accessed January 11th, 2021. https://celiac.org/gluten-free-living/what-is-gluten/.
- “Celiac Disease.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. Accessed January 12th, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220.