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Doctor explains benefits of a gluten-free diet

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DENVER -- It seems like just yesterday we were waging war against carbs with the Atkins diet, and now there’s a new battle raging against a common protein found in countless products. Gluten.

Dr. Gerard Guillory says, “Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat and rye and barley, and it’s what gives bread that doughy, tasty texture.”

But Dr. Guillory says it’s also a protein that can trigger dangerous reactions in some people.

About three million people suffer from celiac disease, which is a disorder where the immune system attacks the small intestine when you consume gluten.

If untreated, it can lead to serious health issues, like anemia and osteoporosis. Blood tests can diagnose that disease, but the majority people are only considered gluten sensitive.

Dr. Guillory says, “The only way to really know if you fit into that subgroup would be to avoid gluten for a period of time and see if you don’t feel better.”

Lauren Chiarelli is a student at Colorado State, and four years ago she decided to go gluten-free. “I was falling asleep all the time, and I was dealing with acne, and nothing was working.”

After hearing a presentation about the benefits of the gluten-free lifestyle, she gave it a try. “After about a month-and-a-half of really being gluten free, I started to notice the effects of not falling to sleep, and my acne starting to go away.”

It’s easy to find gluten-free products at grocery stores these days, but one of the hardest parts of the diet is learning about all the foods that do contain gluten.

Things you might not think about, like spaghetti sauce, maple syrup, and even some cheaper brands of tequila that are not 100% agave.

As far as the gluten-free diet gaining popularity, Dr. Guillory maintains the diet is not just the latest trend. “I think there are some main stream doctors that believe that this is just a fad, and I’m here to tell you this is not a fad.”

Dr. Guillory has been asking people to get off gluten for more than 20 years, and what he came to realize over the years was his patients’ digestive issues got better because they were off of gluten, and many other symptoms they were having cleared up.

Dr. Guillory says one problem with the gluten-free diet is people think it’s a weight loss diet, but that’s not the case.

In fact, many gluten free products can have more sugar, less fiber, and fewer vitamins.

Another downside is the cost. For example, a loaf of gluten-free bread can be twice as much as regular bread.

Regardless, Dr. Guillory says the results may be enough to sway anyone. “The fact of the matter is, if you were a patient and weren’t feeling well, and were having a number of symptoms, and I suggested you try going off gluten and you felt better, then what are you going to do at the end of the day?”

If you are considering a gluten-free diet, Dr. Guillory suggests you talk to a doctor first.