Hello again my faithful followers and readers! This week I will be discussing just one topic I have been thinking and talking about for quite some time now. It's the topic pf gluten free diets, and why they are and are not beneficial. A lot of people I talk to automatically believe that if a food gluten free, it must mean it's healthy. This is not always the case though... 7. Gluten Free Means Healthy
This is a very widely discussed topic throughout the nutrition world, the fitness world, and throughout the world in general. Gluten free has become a posh way of eating regardless of gluten intolerance or not. So what is gluten exactly? What is gluten intolerance, and is gluten free really the way to go?
I have been asked by clients numerous times about gluten free, and of course, I have tried it for myself. I ate gluten free about 95% of the time for about 2 years. Am I still gluten free? No, I am not, not because I don't think gluten allergies and sensitivities are real, but because I don't have one.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the protein found in the endosperm of wheat. Glutens job is to nourish the plant embryo during germination and also contributes to the elasticity of the dough when you bake with it. Gluten is composed of two proteins being gliadin and glutenin and isn't just exclusive to being found in wheat products, but other grains such as rye, barley, oats, and other various crossbreeds.
What is the difference between gluten allergies sensitivities?
When someone is allergic to gluten it is called Celiac Disease. When they eat anything containing gluten, their body will create an immune response that damages their intestines and prevents them from absorbing vital nutrients. According to The National Institute of Health, about 1 in every 141 people have Celiacs Disease (in the United States). In more recent research, scientists have come across another potential form of intolerance called non-celiac gluten sensitivity where common symptoms of celiacs disease are present, but the intestines aren't damaged. This could include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, joint pain, skin conditions, etc..
Obviously if you are celiac, or know 100% that you have a gluten sensitivity, then by all means, please eat gluten free, but if you aren't, then why would you think you need to adopt a way of eating that is quite frankly, unnecessary? Following a gluten free diet when you don't have to can have it's drawbacks if you aren't careful. Often gluten free foods are made with refined, unenriched grains and starches which makes them high in caloric value, but low in nutrient value. Gluten free diets can also lack adequate amounts of fibre and other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, folate, iron, phosphorus, B12, zinc, and more.
So why the craze around gluten free??
Generally people will start feeling better when they stop eating gluten not because of the gluten itself, but because of the increased amount of gluten containing treats being expelled from their diet. This means that cookies, cakes, pasta, bread, and french fries are all gone. Whenever you cut out something from your diet, your body is going to respond or react. For example, when you happen to cut out sugar, your body just so happens to react in way that includes but is not exclusive to: weight loss, mental clarity, improved sleep, improved digestion, improved skin health, improved dental health, lack of anxiety, lack of mood swings, etc.. So is it the breads fault we are feeling sick, tired, and are overweight? Maybe, but most likely not, seeing as celiac disease affects 1% of the population.
My take on eating gluten free is this: if you are celiac or have an extreme sensitivity, cut out gluten and adopt a gluten free diet, but make sure you are eating a well balanced and healthy diet, not just loading up on gluten free junk food. If you aren't celiac or have any sensitivity, eat gluten containing foods in their truest form, being their highest quality. This means: eat organic whole grain products that are unrefined and unbleached. Enjoy a bowl of large flake oatmeal, have a piece of whole wheat toast with an egg on it, these are fine. Eat gluten contain foods in moderation because like anything else, too much of something never turns out well.
Ask yourself what truly may be making you feel ill in your life. Is it gluten or is it maybe some animosity going on with your spouse? Is it gluten making you sick, or could it be the fear of losing your job, the mountain of debt you're in, or the fact that you just lost someone close to you? Life is calling us to wake up, listen, and take an inventory of what's going on. Are you sleeping enough, are you dependent on caffeine, sugar, or alcohol. Are you harbouring resentment or do you need to forgive someone in your life? What are your symptoms and how are they teaching you, calling you to evolve? These are all contributing factors that can cause symptom or disease in the body, not just the food you eat itself. Don't mask the real issues of your life by trying to change something in your diet, it will never work.