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Gliadin-Free Diets

author image Michelle Kerns
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
Gliadin-Free Diets
Grilled fish and veggies on a plate. Photo Credit gkrphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Wheat, oats, barley and rye all contain gliadin, a protein found in gluten. A gluten-restricted diet that eliminates these foods and any products containing them will also be free of gliadin. If you've been diagnosed with certain digestive disorders, following a gliadin-free diet may help relieve your symptoms. However, only a fraction of people may truly need such a diet, says "Forbes" science writer Steven Ross Pomeroy. It may not be the healthiest choice for everyone. See your doctor if you think you may have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten.

Allowed Foods

Gliadin-free diet guidelines emphasize fresh, unprocessed meat, poultry or seafood; dried beans and legumes; eggs and all plain dairy or plant milk products; nuts and nut butters; and soy products such as tofu. All fruits and fruit juices are allowed, as are plain canned, fresh or frozen vegetables including white or sweet potatoes. For breads, cereals and grains, stick with corn tortillas, cornmeal, popcorn, grits, regular or wild rice, rice noodles and any type of baked good or pasta prepared from corn or potato starch and soy, rice, potato or corn flour. Vegetable oils, butter, homemade dressings, vinegar, salt, herbs and spices are allowed in cooking.

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Foods to Avoid

To avoid gluten -- and by doing so, gliadin -- you'll need to avoid barley, buckwheat, durum wheat, bulgur, wheat bran, wheat germ, triticale, quinoa, millet, spelt and teff. That means no regular homemade or commercial breads, noodles, breakfast cereals, crackers, pretzels, baked good mixes, cakes or cookies that contain any of these ingredients. A large number of processed foods contain gluten, including instant drink mixes, commercial salad dressings, canned pie fillings, cold cuts, sausages, canned meat or fish, bouillon cubes and frozen or ready-made entrees containing breaded meat or fish or creamed vegetables. Beware also of store-bought condiments: soy sauce, mustard, ketchup, chili sauce and steak sauce may all contain preservatives derived from gluten.

Who May Need the Diet

Two groups of people are typically advised to follow a gluten-restricted, gliadin-free diet -- those diagnosed with either celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. Celiac disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks gluten, destroying the tissue lining of the intestines and resulting in an inability to absorb adequate nutrition from food. In dermatitis herpetiformis, a disorder related to celiac disease, the immune system reacts to gluten by producing an antibody that accumulates under the skin, causing large, itchy blisterlike rashes. Strict adherence to a diet that eliminates gluten and gliadin can help these individuals manage their condition. The only way to know for certain if you have either -- and if a diet eliminating gluten and gliadin can help you -- is to be tested by a doctor.

Who Probably Doesn't Need the Diet

Although the number of people following a gluten-restricted diet has increased, many may not be gluten-intolerant and might not benefit from a gliadin-free diet at all. A study published in "Current Allergy and Asthma Reports" in December 2013 reported that people who believed they were sensitive to gluten still experienced symptoms on a gluten-free diet. Researchers think that it may be the carbohydrates and sugars in some foods, not the gluten or gliadin, that's the root of the problem. If so, a gluten-free diet won't help you. By contrast, it may be harmful: it can limit your intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals and increase your daily calorie, sugar and salt consumption.

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