Gluten free - Treatment or Fad Diet? - - Jackson, MS

Gluten free - Treatment or Fad Diet?

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Brenda McCall has become an expert on her nutrition. "Gluten always seemed to be the culprit. It caused a lot of fatigue, a lot of headaches, a lot of insomnia, digestive issues. I could go on and on."

But it took McCall a long time to buy-in to the concept that gluten is her nemesis. "Before, I had no idea what was wrong with me. I could eat something and thirty minutes later be so tired I couldn't hold my eyes open, or be so grumpy, I just couldn't be around anybody," she said. 

McCall was tested and found she had a gluten allergy that was causing off the wall symptoms. "Being on a gluten free diet helps you avoid such symptoms as abdominal pain, problems stooling, or in some people, they have mood swings, irritability, depression. Different things that can go along with being on gluten," said Dr. Angela Shannon with GI Associates in Jackson.

Dr. Shannon says the gluten free menu that McCall follows is not what she calls a diet. "I think of it as a medical treatment for a particular medical condition." Yet, tons of people without these gluten sensitivities are going gluten-free. "A lot of people have picked up on this fad when it comes to gluten free diet, and I don't think many people really understand exactly what it means or exactly what they are doing when they go gluten free," Dr. Shannon said. 

Basically, going gluten free without a medical need is just changing what you eat. And don't expect to lose weight on it without some serious strategy. Dr. Shannon says people who are ill-informed about gluten free might be setting themselves up for failure. "It can be healthy, but it's not necessarily healthy. There are still a lot of gluten free foods that are still calorie filled and fat filled, so just because you're avoiding gluten doesn't mean you are avoiding all the other bad things that lead to weight gain."

For people who think they have a medical condition, Dr. Shannon says don't go gluten free until you see a doctor because being gluten free will interfere with diagnostic testing.

Because of testing, McCall says gluten free has saved her life. "People will pass me in the grocery and I guess they think I'm a food Nazi or whatever. I'm not. I just know what works for me," McCall chuckled. 

Dr. Shannon says know what you are doing if you are going gluten free because in addition to weight gain, you could find yourself deficient in calcium, fiber and iron.

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