Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is suggested in a few studies to be associated with autoimmune diseases such as MS, so that adopting a gluten-free diet may be of benefit to some people with this disease.
A gluten-free diet (GFD) is a diet with absolutely no products derived from cereals — wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) — that contain gluten.
Gluten is a protein that helps foods maintain their shape, and is composed of gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is an insoluble protein, and responsible for gluten’s negative effects on health in sensitive individuals, such as those with celiac disease.
Gluten-free diet guidelines
A gluten-free diet avoids all foods containing any wheat, barley or triticale derivatives — a step beyond just “wheat-free” foods. For gluten-sensitive people, it is also important to consider cross-contamination (foods prepared in areas where these products are), and to find suitable substitutes so that the diet won’t result in nutrient deficiencies.
Gluten-free diet research
Research shows that people with gluten-related conditions, such as celiac disease, benefit from gluten-free diet. No direct link between MS and gluten disorders has been established, but a few studies do suggest that MS, as an autoimmune disease, may be associated with a gluten sensitivity.
Among these studies, one reports that some MS patients have higher than usual levels of anti-gliadin antibodies and tissue transglutaminase. It suggests that a gluten-free diet should be considered for these people.
Overall, however, evidence supports no one particular diet but finds potential benefits in several. People with MS would do well to consult with their personal physicians before starting a diet that best meets their individual needs and preferences.
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