Exactly What You Need to Know Before Starting a Gluten-Free Diet

If you are thinking of taking the plunge and going gluten-free with your diet, nutritionist Pooja Banga shares how this can help you tone up and get fit.

From Miley Cyrus to Esha Gupta and Kourtney Kardashian, you may have heard many fit celebrities heading the gluten-free route to get in shape.  But, what exactly does it entail? 

"Gluten is basically a family of protein found in certain grains including wheat, rye, barley. And, a gluten-free diet would mean avoiding all foods which contain gluten, specifically avoiding any and all products made from wheat and whole wheat. Say for instance, chapati, breads, pasta, daliya, cakes and pastries, beer etc," says Pooja Banga, director and nutritionist at Cultivating Health.

While it is touted as a fitness fad, some avoid gluten to keep their allergies under control. Pooja adds that some people have a gluten sensitivity and others may have a more severe form of the allergy called the celiac disease. She says, "When someone suffering from celiac disease ingests gluten their lower digestive tract begins to erode and this makes it hard for their body to absorb nutrients."

Are you allergic to gluten? 

Pooja points out that if you are sensitive to gluten, it would do you well to just avoid food containing it. Here are some symptoms of gluten allergy: 

Stomach cramps 
Joint Pain  

She adds, "The symptoms vary from person to person but stomach cramps and digestive problems are the most common symptoms. This is why people with gluten allergies are often mistakenly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. So, if you have a gluten sensitivity just simply avoid gluten."    

Pros and cons of the gluten-free diet?

Like most diets, this one has its share of misinformation too. Pooja says, "Unfortunately people link gluten free with healthy. But there is nothing inherently unhealthy about gluten or gluten containing foods. It is naturally present in whole grains. The key is to find out if it suits you or not."

Pros - 

It is helpful in reducing the symptoms of IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome)
It helps people who have PCOS as they can develop a little intolerance towards gluten
Beneficial for people with celiac disease
Beneficial for people who gluten intolerance


When a person leaves out gluten containing grains from diet, he/ she also gets deficient in B  vitamins, magnesium and iron.
Gluten free substitutes of foods are not reliable as these foods are made with processed unfortified rice, tapioca, corn, or potato flours which are not healthy.
Gluten acts as a prebiotic and feeds the good bacterias in our gut. A gluten free diet makes us short on these natural pre biotics