Gluten-free is the new cool or so they say. And if you look around, you’ll see more and more people cutting gluten from their diets. But just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that it’s as good for you as they say it is. What does being ‘Gluten-Free’ mean anyway?
In this blog post, we’re going to look at how good a gluten-free diet is for your health, what it involves, how to do it well and why you should consider it.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein commonly found in wheat, rye, oat, and barley. Gluten causes problems for those people without gluten tolerance or gluten allergy. All these grains are sticky when mixed with saliva. So when a flour mix has consumed the starch in the grain keeps forming long chains of polymers.
Then these polymers start binding themselves to water-like glue and form a large structure called thick gel. In simple words, gluten is formed when proteins treat water as a food, not as a solvent. Thin liquid is required to keep a good physiological function of our body hence it calls for reducing flour intake to avoid the formation of gluten in your body.
What is a Gluten-free Diet?
Gluten is the name of a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If you are on a gluten-free diet, it means that you have taken foods that contain gluten out of your diet. Gluten-free foods are stapled foods for some people who suffer from Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disease.
What Category of People is Gluten Harmful To?
People with Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine after one consumes gluten, which is a protein contained in certain grains. In Canada, it is estimated that only 1% of people have celiac disease – which means in Toronto, that would be 0 in every 20 people. Gluten contains wheat, rye, and barley.
This condition makes it impossible for some people to digest the protein and may lead to abdominal pains, bloating, gas, diarrhea, vomiting, malabsorption of nutrients from food, and overall weight loss due to lack of appetite plus fatigue.
Though the exact cause of Celiac Disease is not yet known, it is believed that heredity plays a role in the onset of this condition. The disease can affect anyone irrespective of age or sex and has no cure as yet. However, symptoms can be managed through a proper diet and a naturopathic doctor in Toronto can help you manage with non-invasive techniques. Sometimes, a shift in the method can be good to tackle a problem and in recent times, there has been more sophistication to this approach and results.
People with Wheat Allergy
Wheat allergy is a common disease that causes health problems to people who are allergic to gluten. They have an abnormality in their immune system which causes their bodies to have an allergic reaction when they eat food items containing wheat.
When they consume food products containing wheat, the immune system releases histamines which can cause nausea, hives, skin rashes, and elevate blood pressure. People who are suffering from this disease can use a gluten-free diet as a treatment method.
People with Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten can be harmful to a person only if that person’s immune system is sensitive to gluten and shows a reaction to it. This is known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you are suffering from gluten sensitivity, it may take time to recognize gluten as an enemy of your health since many people experience vague symptoms like fatigue, bloating, gastric discomfort, skin reactions, or joint pain that are often overlooked as the effects of any other food-related condition.
Though a lot of people are said to be gluten intolerant, most of those are sensitive to gluten, not necessarily intolerant. It’s very important to get the difference because, for those who are genuinely suffering from intolerance, a change in diet is all they need to recover their health while those with sensitivity need something more than just removing one nutrient or food group from their diet.
What are the Benefits of a Gluten-free Diet?
Although there is no strong evidence to back these, some benefits include:
- Improves Cholesterol Levels
- Promotes Digestive Health
- Increases Energy Levels
- Eliminates Unhealthy and Processed Foods from Your Diet
- Promotes Healthy Weight-Loss
What are the Risks of a Gluten-free Diet?
- Nutritional Deficiencies eg iron, calcium, fiber, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin
- Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
- Weight Gain
We are, without a doubt, living in a gluten-aware age. For some, a gluten-free diet is a requirement, and for others, it is a personal preference. Gluten and general wellbeing are complex issues that are still being researched.
Written by Allen Brown