Although following a gluten-free diet may be the most popular health phenomenon of the last 10 years, it’s unclear if gluten harms everyone or people with certain health conditions.
However, many in the wellness and healthcare industries advocate the benefits of a gluten free diet, whether or not they are gluten intolerant. But what is a gluten-free diet?
Table of Contents
Does eliminating it from your diet make you healthier? Many Americans appear to believe so, as the number of people following gluten-free diets has increased over the last decade.
The subject of gluten is debatable.
- Most sources say it is safe for everyone except those with celiac disease.
- Some health professionals, however, believe that gluten is dangerous to most people.
- But gluten avoidance may lower whole grain consumption, increasing cardiovascular risk. Non-celiacs shouldn’t be urged to eat gluten-free.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein naturally found in cereals like wheat, barley, and rye. Consider how a pizza maker would stretch and throw a dough ball to give it a “stretchy” quality. It functions as a binder, binding food together. Without gluten, the dough would rip.
Also, grains with gluten are great for making bread and other baked goods because gluten proteins like glutenin and gliadin are very stretchy.
Large units of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, known as peptides, can pass through the small intestine’s wall and into the rest of your body because of the incomplete digestion of proteins.
Is Gluten bad for you?
Gluten, especially the gluten found in whole grains, is not bad for healthy people whose bodies can tolerate it.
The negative aspect of gluten is that some people can experience major adverse effects. When some people eat gluten, their bodies mistake it for poison, which makes their immune systems overreact and attack the food.
If a person who is sensitive to gluten but doesn’t know it keeps eating it, it can cause inflammation. As with autoimmune celiac disease, the adverse effects might be moderate (fatigue, bloating, alternating constipation, and diarrhoea), severe (unintentional weight loss, malnutrition, intestinal damage), or somewhere in between.
The good news is that cutting gluten out of your diet may help you restore the damage. The primary medical treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. On the other hand, it can be hard to understand and stick to a strict gluten-free diet. You may need the help of a trained dietitian to determine which foods contain gluten and ensure that you are getting the right nutrients from gluten-free alternatives.
Only people who have a negative reaction to it or have been diagnosed with celiac disease have problems consuming gluten. Most people can eat gluten and have done so for most of their lives without experiencing any negative side effects.
Why is gluten bad for weight loss?
People who follow a gluten-free diet don’t eat any foods containing gluten. It could include spices, food additives, or ingredients found in grains like wheat and rye. Since these foods are also high in calories, people lose weight when they stop eating them.
Also, when someone starts eating gluten-free, they get in the habit of always reading the labels on the foods they buy. People are less likely to indulge in binge eating or consume unhealthy food when they make an informed decision about what they put in their bodies.
Does Gluten cause Weight Gain?
No. Gluten is found in carbohydrates, and if you reduce your total carbohydrate intake, whether gluten-containing or not, you should not gain weight. You gain weight when you consume too many calories and don’t exercise enough to burn them off. Some people have allergies to gluten, a protein found in wheat.
Why do people lose weight by going gluten-free?
While being gluten-free may result in losing one or more clothing sizes, weight loss is usually brought on by avoiding high-calorie gluten-containing products. Bagels, pasta, crackers, pretzels, and baked goods are foods high in refined carbohydrates.
What is a Gluten Belly?
The sensation that some people have after consuming gluten-containing foods is known as the “gluten belly.” This symptom usually consists of feeling unwell, weary, or bloated.
What are the effects of gluten?
Gluten’s effect on the body is determined by how your body reacts to it. People sensitive to or intolerant to gluten can have several unpleasant or dangerous symptoms. Gluten is essential to a healthy diet for everyone else.
An autoimmune illness called celiac disease affects about one percent of the population. In response to gluten, antibodies in the gut cause intestinal lining cells to become vulnerable to attack.
Because the intestines are damaged, many nutrients, like iron and calcium, may not be absorbed as well as they should be. This can cause long-term problems like osteoporosis and anemia.
Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Some people can have many signs and symptoms of celiac disease, but they might not have the immune response to gluten typical of an autoimmune condition. Gluten-sensitive individuals find that avoiding all gluten relieves and resolves their symptoms.
Allergies to Wheat
Similar to other food allergies, a wheat allergy results in an immunological reaction that sets off an allergic reaction. When you consume wheat products, you don’t have stomach pain; you get allergic symptoms like hives, swelling, runny noses, and watery eyes. In some extreme circumstances, you can even go into anaphylactic shock.
When is Gluten Harmful?
Gluten causes the immune systems of those with celiac disease to attack and harm the lining of their small intestine. After eating a lot of gluten, the body loses the ability to get nutrients into the bloodstream.
If a person with celiac disease continues to consume gluten, complications could develop, including:
- · Nutritional deficits
- · Weight loss
- · Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- · Neurological disorders
- · Osteoporosis
- · Infertility
Aside from digestive issues, gluten sensitivity symptoms can also manifest in other areas of the body.
- Muscle aches
- Numbness in the extremities
Foods to avoid
A person with gluten intolerance wants to keep healthy and stay away from symptoms, thus, they must avoid all foods that contain gluten, no matter how small the amount.
Gluten-containing foods include:
- Cereal-based foods such as wheat, barley, triticale, rye
- Malt bread
- Beer, candies, and numerous sweets
- Pies and cakes
- Fried potatoes
- Processed meats pasta
- Brown rice syrup
- Some varieties of soy sauce
- Processed meats
Other products, particularly processed foods, may contain gluten. Anyone on a gluten-free diet should read the food label to ensure that there is no gluten.
Gluten-free products may have small amounts of gluten, especially if made in the same factory as wheat-based products.
Foods to Eat
Many foods are gluten-free by nature. These are some examples:
- Veggies and fruits
- Fresh meats and eggs
- Unprocessed fish and poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts, and the majority of dairy products
- Buckwheat, corn and cornmeal, flax, quinoa, rice, soy, arrowroot, and millet
How to Prepare for a Gluten-Free Diet?
Anyone considering cutting out gluten from their diet should take certain precautions. These are some examples:
- Any gastrointestinal symptoms, such as chronic or severe abdominal discomfort, bloating, or diarrhea, should be discussed with their doctor since the doctor may need to screen for other illnesses.
- Unless they’ve had a test for celiac disease, one should keep eating gluten as taking it out could result in a false negative result.
- Before eliminating gluten, consult a dietician to ensure your diet contains all nutrients.
Are gluten-free diets good for diabetes?
Most people do not need to maintain a gluten-free diet, and gluten is not always hazardous to those with diabetes. A gluten-free diet, on the other hand, may benefit some diabetics.
While gluten is not dangerous, many gluten-containing foods can cause blood sugar levels to rise. There are also correlations between type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and severe gluten intolerance.
Suppose a person believes that their diet is impacting their health. In that case, they could try not eating gluten or talk to a specialist to find out if they might have a food allergy or intolerance.
Are there any Risks to a Gluten-Free Diet?
A gluten-free diet has a few drawbacks:
- Nutritional deficiencies
Removing gluten from the diet might make it difficult to obtain the fibre, iron, and other nutrients in whole grains. On the other hand, well-planned gluten-free diets are unlikely to leave you with insufficient nutrients to sustain them over time.
- Social and psychological effects
Eating gluten-free might make social situations more challenging and lead to the emergence of compulsive behaviors and thoughts.
Gluten-free goods can run up to 267% higher in price than conventional goods.
Should you opt for Gluten-Free?
Celebrities and athletes have helped spread awareness of gluten-free eating in the United States by promoting the advantages of cutting out wheat. There is, however, no proof that a gluten-free diet affects those who do not need to avoid gluten for medical reasons.
It is believed that avoiding gluten improves overall health, weight loss, and athletic performance. Studies on the effects of gluten on performance, however, indicate that there was no difference between a gluten-free diet and a diet that contained gluten.
Many people think consuming or avoiding gluten can significantly affect different aspects of health. Also, companies that make gluten-free products use the benefits of a gluten-free diet as their main way to sell their products.
The cost of gluten-free products is significantly higher, which may strain household finances. If it is not medically necessary to stay away from gluten, it should be possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet to help control diabetes.
Furthermore, when a person with gluten sensitivity stops eating gluten, their symptoms usually get better. People with celiac disease must comply with the diet to protect their health.
What is a gluten-free diet?
A gluten-free diet is a type of diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in certain grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye, as well as their derivatives. It is commonly found in many foods, including bread, pasta, cereals, and baked goods.
A gluten-free diet involves avoiding all foods containing gluten and opting for alternatives made from gluten-free grains, such as rice, corn, quinoa, and oats (certified gluten-free).
How do I get started with a gluten-free diet?
A registered dietitian can help you decide if a gluten-free diet suits you.
Steps to start a gluten-free diet:
1. Try gluten-free bread, pasta, and crackers made from rice, corn, quinoa, and oats (certified gluten-free). Verify gluten-free labels.
2. Plan ahead for gluten-free meals. Fresh produce, lean proteins, and gluten-free grains are examples.
3. Ask about gluten-free options when dining out and inform the staff of your dietary restrictions.
4. Persevere: With practice, a gluten-free diet becomes easier. It’s important to avoid gluten because even small amounts can harm you.
What are the benefits of eating gluten-free bread?
Benefits of gluten-free bread include:
1. Reduce gastrointestinal symptoms
2. Improve nutrient absorption
3. Control inflammation
4. Increase dietary diversity
5. Improves mental clarity
Aditi Paul Chakraborty is a food and wellness writer. She is a double postgraduate in English Literature and Mass Communication and Journalism from MIT and a regular at various international film festivals.
She is a movie buff, a painter, a traveler, and a shopaholic. She is happily married to a loving husband and has a caring mother-in-law.