Palmetto Endocrinology March 2024 Newsletter

Woman eating

Gluten: Friend or Foe?


Gluten is a protein naturally found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten is also used in flavoring and can be found in foods you wouldn’t expect. In addition to foods like bread, pasta, cereal and baked goods, gluten can be in everything from soy sauce and ice cream to certain medications, beauty products and dietary supplements.

Gluten containing foods are abundant in food supply and for many, the consumption of gluten is a beneficial part of a healthy, balanced diet. For example, whole grains have been shown in studies to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Gluten may also act as a prebiotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut.

Gluten is not beneficial for everyone, such as those with celiac disease, which is a disorder that causes damage to the small intestine from an autoimmune response to gluten. Some symptoms of celiac disease are abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, brain fog, bloating and/or diarrhea. People with celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet. There are also those who have gluten intolerance, which causes the same type of symptoms as celiac but with negative serologic markers. Those with gluten intolerance feel better when they avoid gluten.

In the past decade, the gluten-free diet has become popular as a weight loss method, but eating a gluten-free diet alone is not an effective for weight loss, especially if you are consuming highly processed gluten-free snacks. Some think going gluten-free means not eating any carbohydrates, but this isn’t the case. Many foods that contain carbohydrates do not contain gluten, such as rice, potatoes, corn, and beans.

If you suffer from symptoms of celiac disease, it is important to speak with your health care provider for further evaluation. If a gluten-free diet is recommended, focus on eating naturally gluten-free foods in their whole form like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, and poultry. There are whole grains that do not contain gluten such as quinoa, brown, black, or red rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, corn, sorghum, teff, and gluten-free oats. Always read nutritional labels to look for allergy information so you do not miss hidden gluten in products.



Ingredient of the Month: Quinoa

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that has many health benefits and can also act as a plant-based protein. If you have never tried quinoa, this month’s recipe is a great place to start---Enjoy!


Greek Chicken Bowl

Dressing/Marinade: ¼ cup olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, 1 tbsp honey (or pure maple syrup), ½ tbsp lemon zest, 1 garlic clove minced, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, salt and pepper to taste

Quinoa Bowls: 1 ½ cups quinoa uncooked, 4 chicken breasts boneless, skinless, 1 English cucumber (diced), 4 Roma tomatoes (chopped), 1 red onion medium (diced), 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1 cup pitted kalamata olives


  1. Add the quinoa to a small saucepan together with 2 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Place over medium heat and allow it to simmer for about 12-15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Once the quinoa is done cooking, drain if needed, then set aside and allow it to cool.
  2. Add all dressing/marinade ingredients to a small jar and stir or shake vigorously to emulsify. Pour about 1/3 of the marinade over the chicken and toss to completely coat. Reserve the remaining marinade to use as dressing, making sure it does not touch the raw meat.
  3. Heat a grill pan or an outside grill over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and grill for 6-8 min per side, or until cooked through and internal temperature reads 165F.
  4. Divide the cooled quinoa among 4 serving bowls. Top with the grilled chicken and prepped veggies.
  5. Add the Crumble feta cheese and kalamata olives over the chicken bowl and drizzle with the remaining untouched dressing.

**This is great for weekly meal prep, but if making ahead keep the dressing separate until ready to eat**


Activity of the Month: Go to the grocery store and look for your favorite food items. Do they contain gluten? Many stores have a gluten free section, check it out and see if you are surprised by the nutritional facts and prices of some gluten free products compared to the gluten containing items.

Dawn Wolak, MSN, APRN, ANP-C Dawn Wolak, MSN, APRN, ANP-C Dawn Wolak joins our team as Dr. Mathews' Nurse Practitioner. She attended Clemson University where she attained her bachelor's degree in Nursing. She went on to attend the Medical University of South Carolina where she underwent rigorous medical training to obtain her master’s degree in Nursing and become certified as an Adult Nurse Practitioner. Afterwards, she underwent additional training with Dr. Mathews to become an expert in endocrine disorders. She works closely with the Palmetto Endocrine team to provide consistent, informed care for our patients at all times.

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