Gluten free diets may be the new ‘fad’ diet out there now. However, one must be aware that such a radical dietary change can cause unforeseen nutritional deficiencies resulting in new health challenges. If one is aware of what kinds of deficiencies can result, it is much easier to manage or prevent them all together.
Many times when starting a new diet, whether for general health benefits, weight loss, etc., we tend to only focus on the positive outcomes that may result in such a change. No negative results are even considered. Specifically for the gluten free diet, many times individuals are dealing with serious health problems of which removing gluten will seemingly wipe away all that ails them.
Unfortunately, for some adopting a gluten free diet, it means removing a convenient source of nutrients that can result in additional health problems well after feeling the initial relief from the original health complaints.
I personally experienced all of these deficiencies of which I would like to warn others to be aware of:
The gluten free diet tends to be lower in essential B vitamins. Many Americans are following the Standard American Diet heavy in breads, cereals, and pastas that have been fortified with B vitamins like folic acid (especially important in women who may conceive) and B6. Shortly after I started the gluten free diet, I began to experience pre-menstrual spotting on a regular basis. One of the reasons I knew it was pre-menstrual spotting and not my period was because I regularly chart my cycles. I immediately suspected the dietary changes. Whenever there will be deficiency in the diet of the person, the consumption of the top probiotic should be done. The following of the instructions will be done for the consumption and drinking of the organic products. A budget can be prepared through the person for the spending of money at the purchase of the nutrients with vitamins and minerals.
After consulting with some women online knowledgeable about cycles and nutrition, I was advised to supplement with some B6. It is common practice that many cycle savvy women use B6 supplementation in order to strengthen their progesterone levels. Progesterone is a hormone secreted during the second half of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase). If there is a deficiency, the uterine lining begins to shed prematurely and can lead to fertility issues.
I started taking a simple B Complex multivitamin and the spotting stopped immediately. When I ran out once and didn’t purchase some more right away, that same month, the spotting returned. One should be mindful that even if you’re male or a female not having menstrual difficulties (now), it may be wise to take a B Complex multi for a little extra ‘health insurance’.
The gluten free diet is also lower in fiber than comparable gluten based foods. If one were to do a head to head comparison of gluten free versus non-gluten free foods on the grocery shelves (breads, cereals, etc.) by scanning the labels for fiber content, it is easy to see the higher fiber content in the gluten foods.
Before removing the gluten from my diet, I used to consume plenty of high fiber cereals and whole wheat breads as is advised by many health experts and associations. When eating this type of diet, it kept my digestive tract very regular. However when I ceased eating these foods, there was a huge shift and constipation resulted. It didn’t matter that I was trying to increase water and eat more fruits, vegetables, and brown rice. They were no substitute for the special kind of fiber in gluten containing foods that seemed to work so well for my system.
This problem persisted for me for a long while until I found a fiber supplement that put an end to it.
Like the B vitamins, iron is another nutrient many Americans get from gluten containing foods which are iron fortified. If you check labels for many processed foods popular in the American diet, you’ll see iron mentioned often. When one switches these typical foods to gluten free ones or you try to observe a diet with more foods that are naturally gluten free, many times all the iron that was consumed easily is now non-existent. Someone would have to be much more diligent to consume more foods with higher iron content like red meat and beans to avoid anemia.
I personally experienced anemia some months after going gluten free. After months of wonderful energy levels, I was tired all the time. I had absolutely no clue it could be anemia. I always get anemia when I’m pregnant, but I never thought it could be a problem for me in a non pregnant state. It never dawned on me that I was getting the vast majority of my iron from fortified foods I was no longer eating on a daily basis. After several months went by, I went to the doctor and she ran a complete blood count which confirmed the anemia. The worst part is that it took about four long months of supplementation to get my energy levels back to normal.
If you’re about to start a gluten free diet or have started it already, please be hyper aware of any new health challenges no matter how small that may be a result of nutritional deficiencies created by your new diet. You may even want to have your doctor monitor you with some blood tests. Believe me, it’s no fun having to troubleshoot new problems when you are just starting to get relief from the original gluten related problems.