Gluten free seems to be put in our faces at the grocery store, social media and blog post everywhere, but have you stopped to think what makes gluten so bad. What is Gluten? How bad is gluten that we all need to stop eating it? Who should really be avoiding gluten? Answering these questions, plus more ready to dive in!
What is Gluten?
No where better to start than what exactly is gluten. Gluten is a complex mixture of hundreds of related but distinct proteins, mainly gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is to be blamed for most of the adverse health effects. Gluten is found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. It is used to help foods maintain their shape by acting like glue holding everything together. The big three is Wheat, Rye and Barley, these will be the most common ingredients found.
What Food Contains Gluten
- Baked goods
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Food Coloring
- Frozen Vegetables
- Malt (malted barley flour, malted milk and milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar)
- Rye bread, such as pumpernickel
- Rye beer
- Salad Dressings
- Vitamins & Minerals
Who Should Avoid Gluten
Most people can handle gluten with no problems, however there is a group of people that cannot. People suffering from Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, Allergy, Crohns Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowl Syndrome, Irritable Bowl Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis or Any Autoimmune Disease tend to see positive effects from not consuming gluten. Celiac disease, also spelled as coeliac disease, is the most severe form of gluten sensitivity that effects 1% of the population. This disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack gluten thinking it is invader and damage the lining of the gut. The most common symptoms are:
- Digestive Discomfort
- Foul Smelling Feces
- Skin Rashes
- Tissue Damage in the Small Intestines
- Unexplained Weight Loss
Avoiding Gluten is a Burden
Living through life avoiding gluten is time consuming, expensive and risky. If you are someone that needs to avoid gluten, even the smallest amount can cause problems. Going out to eat may have gluten free options, but be sure to ask if they are using gluten free only cooking items. If not you can run into cross contamination causing problem that you are trying to avoid. You also end up struggling at the grocery store with items that are stated Gluten Free, because that doesn't always mean its safe to eat.
Another thing to worry about is when eliminating any food group from your diet, is making sure your body getting enough nourishment. When cutting out gluten products you are no longer getting adequate amounts of fiber, calories, and B-vitamin intake. It is important to be sure your replacing gluten products with other carbs in the diet to keep your calories, fiber and B-vitamin from becoming inadequate. Always consult with a healthcare professional before trying a gluten-free diet.
Is Gluten Bad
There hasn't been enough testing done to really determine if gluten is bad for all of us. In regards to the reason why most people feel better upon giving up gluten is fairly simple. When giving up gluten your diet tends to make a shift to less processed foods and more real food options. Beside the gluten that you are avoiding, your body is no longer ingesting added sugars, genetically modified ingredients, unhealthy fats and high empty calories. This alone causes your body to feel better, have less inflammation, see better skin and have more energy. So to say it is strictly from the Gluten, the evidence just isn't there. The evidence does however suggest that changing your diet to more real food choices and less processed items you feel better all around!
Before Getting Tested
Believe it or not 80% of people do not know they have some kind of gluten intolerance! If you think your body might benefit from removing gluten it is advised that you speak to a doctor and get tested for celiac or allergy. If gluten is not causing you extreme harm it is advised that you continue to consume gluten products until after the test so that your body gets an accurate result. If you have stopped consuming gluten for a while, it can be difficult to diagnose celiac or allergy.
Removing gluten because its the trendy thing to do can in turn cost you extra money, cause your body to become malnourished and encourage others that this is the thing to do. Let's stop the trend and keep the gluten free for people who are in real need! Are you someone that needs to avoid gluten or just does because its the trendy thing?