If you're one of the millions of people in the United States who are gluten intolerant, a gluten-free diet can change your life. If you have celiac disease, which affects 1 percent of the U.S. population, the dietary switch would halt the damage your immune system does to your small intestine in response to gluten. And if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, getting off the wheat protein could stop the affects of chronic inflammation – including diarrhea, fatigue, and joint pain – you may be experiencing.
A gluten-free diet isn't for everyone, but if you do have a sensitivity, you still need to watch what you eat. "A healthy gluten-free diet and a healthy 'regular' diet don't have to look all that different," says Tricia Thompson, author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide. Both need to be high in whole foods and low in processed and packaged foods, she says. Here are some healthy gluten-free grains and other foods that you should load up on – whether you're going gluten free or not.
In the 1980s, chia saw its rise to fame in the U.S. in the form of Chia Pets – clay figurines, such as sheep, that grew grass-like fur. But you can add chia – which is packed with fiber, calcium, thiamin, niacin, and phosphorous – to foods and beverages to incorporate a mild nutty flavor or provide a tapioca-like texture. "You can buy chia seeds in some stores, and some gluten-free manufacturers are using it in cereals and bread products," says Thompson.
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