Who Qualifies for a Gluten Free Diet

Bread, cereal, pasta, even alcohol are all products to avoid if you’re gluten intolerant.

Dr. Stacey Zavala, a gastroenterologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System, says following gluten free diet can be extremely challenging. But she says there are patients who have no choice but to stick to gluten free products. “Patients with celiac disease cannot come off of a gluten free diet. This isn’t something they’re going to get rid of.”

Celiac disease happens when your body has an immune reaction to gluten. Patients can experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and unintentional weight loss after having gluten.

Gluten is anything that contains wheat, barley, and rye. Things like crackers, pastries, and granola all contain gluten. Patients who are gluten intolerant may develop the problem over time, but it’s not clear why. “There is a genetic component specifically for those with celiac disease. So if you have a family member or a first degree relative with celiac disease it’s important that you get that checked,” said Dr. Zavala.

But for those who don’t have gluten intolerance, health experts say it’s still safe to remove gluten from your diet. “It’s not harmful for a patient to be gluten free. It tends to be a little healthier,” said Dr. Zavala.

With more gluten free products available in stores and in restaurants the diet is becoming a little easier to follow.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

Visit leememorial.org