Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Going Gluten-Free

The gluten-free food trend has become more popular and many athletes are questioning whether it's something they should try.

The main reason people decide to omit gluten is that they have been diagnosed with celiac disease.  Celiac disease is when gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains, damages the intestines and prevents the body from absorbing essential nutrients.  Along with intestinal damage, celiac disease can cause pain, bloating, fatigue and bone loss. 

Some athletes feel that they have more energy after giving up gluten, but that is usually because they have been forced to cut out processed foods and have replaced them with fruits and vegetables. 

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or suspect a gluten sensitivity, be aware that a lot of unexpected foods have gluten and that you will need to be an avid label reader to avoid further issues.  Some items to watch for are:
  • Cheese, yoghurt or ice cream
  • Roasted or seasoned nuts
  • Processed meat
  • Soups and sauces
  • Flavoured or herbal teas
  • Natural supplements or protein powders
Although many people are making the switch, there are still a lot of nutrients to be had from whole grains so athletes should not make this decision lightly.  Because this is a relatively new issue, research on this topic is minimal so its recommended that athletes only make the switch if they are diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

References from the SIRC Collection

1. Crosland J. Coeliac disease and sport. Coach. March 2004;(21):54-56. 
2. Eberman L, Cleary M. Celiac Disease in an Elite Female Collegiate Volleyball Athlete: A Case Report. Journal Of Athletic Training. 
3. Hamilton A. Wheat gluten and muscle damage. Peak Performance. February 2009;(273):11. 
4. Keihanian S, Burke K, Levey J. Sports Dietary Supplements: Overview and Effect on the Gluten-Sensitive Athlete. AMAA Journal. 
5. Managing Celiac Disease in the Athletic Population. Athletic Training & Sports Health Care: The Journal For The Practicing Clinician. May 2011;3(3):110-111. 
6. Mancini L, Trojian T, Mancini A. Celiac Disease and the Athlete. Current Sports Medicine Reports (American College Of Sports Medicine). March 2011;10(2):105-108.

No comments: