FeaturesApr/May 2014 Issue

Nutritional First Aid Kit: Gluten-Free Diet Supplements

Some supplements might only be necessary during periods of illness, stress or travel. Think about the following supplements as part of your nutritional first aid kit, says Christine Doherty, ND, medical director of Balance Point Natural Medicine in Milford, New Hampshire, and founder of GlutenFreeVitamins.com.

  • Probiotics. Probiotics can help improve the health of your gut, Doherty says. “The key is there is no right formula for everybody. Unfortunately, the research is at the stage where we know probiotics are important but the only real tool we have for figuring out which ones are best is trial and error. When you find the ones that work, you will feel better and your gut will work better.”
  • Digestive enzymes. These enzymes help break down specific proteins, carbohydrates and fats. (For instance, lactase helps break down lactose.) If the body is weakened, it might not make digestive enzymes. “What I see in my practice is that a lot of people have trouble digesting fat, so I would say to take an enzyme with lipase,” Doherty says. “If you’re going to eat at other people’s houses or at a restaurant, taking some of the enzymes that can help break down gluten can be a good thing. They’re definitely not a carte blanche to eat gluten but they may help offset some of the effects of inadvertent cross-contamination.”
  • L-Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that can help heal the gut, strengthen the gut lining, stop diarrhea and repair a leaky gut, Doherty says. Glutamine is found in high levels in animal products, such as beef, chicken and fish, and dairy products, as well as beans, cabbage and beets.
  • L-Theanine. An antioxidant derived from green tea, theanine helps improve sleep, memory and mood. “Anxiety is a huge problem in the gluten-free population,” Doherty says. “It’s kind of the dirty little secret. When your stomach is upset, it often causes anxiety.”

Associate editor Eve Becker is author of glutenfreenosh.com.

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