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Gluten & Yogurt

By Kimberly Schaub ; Updated August 14, 2017

In the gluten-free diet, individuals with gluten allergies eliminate foods that contain a protein that naturally occurs in wheat, rye and barley. Many foods are naturally gluten-free, and these include meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables and fruit. Dairy foods also are naturally gluten-free, and many yogurts are safe on a gluten-free diet. However, some yogurts contain modified food starch to thicken the yogurt, so carefully read ingredient labels.

Gluten Allergy

Individuals with a gluten allergy suffer from celiac disease. Celiac disease is characterized by damage that occurs in the small intestines as a result of an immune reaction to gluten. It affects approximately one in 133 individuals, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. In addition to individuals who suffer from celiac disease, some are sensitive to gluten without experiencing intestinal damage. In order to prevent a reaction to gluten, you should avoid all foods that contain it, and that includes wheat, barley, rye and products that contain foods derived from wheat, barley and rye.

Yogurt Benefits

Yogurt is considered to have digestive benefits, because the bacteria used in making yogurt are thought to be beneficial for intestinal bacteria that help with digestion, according to researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging of Tufts University. They found that yogurt may be beneficial for those with lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and allergies. The research group recommends improved studies about potential benefits, because lab studies and reports of benefits are inconsistent though positive.

Yogurt Thickeners

Some yogurt products contain modified food starch, gels and gums to thicken yogurt and provide structure, according to the Dannon Company. Modified food starch can be derived from wheat, potato or corn, so it could contain gluten. Gluten also might be used in soups, sauces and batters to improve the texture, taste and moisture of food, according to the Key American Food Products website. When selecting yogurt, take care to read the ingredients and choose yogurts that do not contain modified food starch. Bear in mind that guar gum, xanthan gum and pectin are also used to thicken yogurt and are considered safe on the gluten-free diet, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

Restaurants, Yogurt and Gluten

When dining out, be sure to discuss your allergy or sensitivity with your server. He or she may be able to recommend foods that are gluten-free. In addition, do not make assumptions about the foods and ingredients, because some foods may contain gluten even though they would not seem to. Yogurt can be one of those foods. If you choose foods with yogurt, such as a parfait, ask to read the label to be sure you do not mistakenly consume gluten. If unsure or if the label is not available, it may be wiser to choose a different food that you know is free of gluten, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

Yogurt Nutrition Facts

Because certain yogurts are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet, yogurt can be a good choice. Yogurt is high in calcium and protein, and eight ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt contains up to 12 grams protein and 448 mg calcium with only 154 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Yogurt is a filling snack, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming reduced-fat yogurt to help you meet the recommended three servings of dairy each day. Nondairy yogurts are also available for those who cannot tolerate lactose, which is the carbohydrate in dairy foods that can be for some difficult to digest.

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