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KEY POINTS:

Consuming adequate dietary fiber is especially important for people on the gluten-free diet. Fiber: 1

  • Normalizes bowel movements by increasing the weight and size of your stool and by softening it. A bulky stool is easier to pass so there’s less chance of constipation. And if you have loose or water stools, fiber will absorb the water and add bulk to the stool. Some people on the gluten-free diet may have trouble with constipation due to inadequate fiber in their diet. 1
  • Helps maintain bowel health by lowering the risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. Researchers are studying how certain fermenting fibers may help prevent diseases in the colon.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, gluten-free oats and oat bran, and flaxseed may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber can help people, particularly those with diabetes, improve their blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber, as well, may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Aids in reaching a healthy weight. High-fiber foods take longer to chew so your body has time to register when you're no longer hungry. This leads to less overeating. A high-fiber diet increases the volume (or visual size) of a meal and lingers longer in your body so you stay full for longer. High-fiber diets also tend to have fewer calories for the same volume of food.

TAKE HOME MESSAGES:

  1. Eating your gluten-free grains, nuts or seeds with one or more of the legumes gives you complete protein. This combination is particularly important for vegetarians who rely on the plant world for their protein.
  2. Choosing high fiber gluten-free grains and products that are enriched with B vitamins and iron automatically boosts your nutrition.
  3. Don’t choose a single high fiber gluten-free grain to act as your new wheat substitute. Instead, rotate these new grains regularly into your diet to reap the specific nutritional benefits of each one.

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic. Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet. Accessed 2/25/13.
  2. Soluble and Insoluble Fiber: What's the Difference?  Accessed 2/25/13.
  3. Higgins, L. Whole Grains = Nutritional Gold. In Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten Free . Eds. Dennis M, Leffler D. AGA Press. Bethesda, MD. 2010.
  4. Gluten Intolerance Group. Grains. Accessed 3/6/13
  5. Pulse Canada. Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet. Accessed 3/6/13.

Revision Date: 4-2-13 
Authors: Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN and Nicolette Taggart 
Editors: Anne Lee, MSEd, RD, LD and Daniel Leffler MD, MS

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