Some people go gluten-free by choice. People with celiac disease, however, go gluten-free out of medical necessity.
“Once you have an accurate diagnosis of celiac, the treatment is a lifetime commitment to stay away from gluten,” says Wilson P. Pais, MD, MBA, FACP, FRCP, gastroenterologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “You have to make a lot of changes to the way you eat. Basically, cut out everything wheat-based like bread and beer.”
Celiac disease is an overactive immune system response to gluten, which is found in wheat. When celiac patients consume gluten, their intestines become inflamed and unable to absorb nutrients. In addition to pain, the disease can cause nutritional deficiency, osteoporosis and anemia.
Switching to a gluten-free diet helps reverse the condition. “Once patients see the difference, they stick to a gluten-free diet even though it is inconvenient,” says Pais.