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.
Though oats are naturally gluten free, studies in the past showed many oats on the market actually had traces of gluten. The reason: They were cross-contaminated from being processed in factories with other gluten-containing grains. So if you buy oats, read the label first. "I stress that people with celiac disease choose grains that are labeled gluten-free," says Thompson.
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