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Should You Switch To A Gluten-Free Diet?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It isn't terribly difficult these days to find gluten-free products on store shelves. People with celiac disease need to get gluten completely out of their diets, but there are still others who are simply gluten intolerant.

WCCO's Natalie Nyhus spoke with registered dietitian Christina Meyer-Jax to get a closer look at what gluten is, and how it affects our bodies.

Gluten is a protein that's found in wheat, barley and rye. Occasionally it's found in oats too, because it can sometimes be cultivated on the same farming fields as wheat.

Meyer-Jax said that scientists have detected a spectrum for gluten sensitivity, ranging from celiac disease at the critical end of the spectrum down to intolerance, which might show up in symptoms like achy joints and inflammation, bloating, brain fogs, and overall tiredness.

Fewer than 1 percent of us are diagnosed with celiac disease, and researchers say maybe as many as 6 percent are gluten intolerant. But close to one-in-three people are trying to avoid gluten.

Meyer-Jax pointed out that many foods that contain gluten are also foods high in caloric value, so even those who aren't gluten intolerant may want to switch their snack choices. Popcorn, according to Meyer-Jax, is becoming one of the fastest-growing snack foods. She said it's a good choice for those wishing to avoid gluten because it's a whole grain.

For those who need to cut out gluten, it's important to always check the labels of the products you buy, and to make sure that you're getting your necessary levels of fiber, B-vitamins, iron and zinc.

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