Many healthy individuals follow a gluten-free diet because they believe it is healthier; however, a gluten-free diet can be deficient in vitamins, minerals and fiber when it's not managed properly, according to WebMD. People who suffer from celiac disease need to eliminate gluten and wheat-based products from their diet, and some individuals who do not suffer from the disease claim to feel better eating gluten-free.
As of 2015, approximately 1 percent of Americans suffer from celiac disease, states WebMD. Celiac disease is an abnormal immune response to gluten, which is a protein found in certain grains, including wheat, rye and barley. The condition causes damage to the small intestine and prevents essential nutrients from being absorbed properly. Some individuals who have not been diagnosed with celiac disease may suffer from gluten sensitivity, and a gluten-free or reduced-gluten diet can help.
Gluten itself doesn't provide specific nutritional benefits; however, it is found in a variety of grains that are high in vitamin B, calcium, zinc, fiber and iron, explains WebMD. Diets that are rich in whole grains reduce risks of a variety of chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. Following a gluten-free diet requires proper planning and managing a healthy eating plan in order to get adequate nutrition.
Individuals who opt for products marketed as gluten-free may also experience the drawbacks of higher cost, as well as higher amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, notes WebMD. The basis of a healthy gluten-free diet is whole foods such as fresh vegetables, fruit, lean protein and low-fat dairy products.