As I pulled out my coupon drawer in the kitchen to check out their expiration dates, I noticed that 95% of them are for Gluten Free products. The realization instantly sparked my curiosity and I have been reading up on the subject which I found quite interesting as it seems to be the word on the street.
Wikipedia defines Gluten as a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Because gluten is hard to digest it can cause serious health issues to individuals with gluten sensitivity (such as weight loss, joint aches, abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, anxiety, headache, skin rashes, fatigue) and can also create a much more serious condition known as Celiac Disease.
As most people asked, what’s the deal with Gluten-Free? A Gluten-Free diet is pretty much one that excludes food containing the protein Gluten and it is the only medically accepted treatment for Celiac Disease.
According to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Celiac Disease is a condition that creates inflammation and damages the lining of the small intestine. This prevents absorbing components of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. The exact cause of the disease is unknown.
According to Dr. Arthur Agatston, Living gluten-free can make you fat (read the full article here). He explains that some people who go off gluten to lose weight end up gaining weight instead. That’s because they consume gluten-free packaged products that are often just as high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium as other junk food, and these products often contain high-glycemic refined ingredients like white rice flour or fillers like potato starch that can affect your blood sugar and trigger cravings.
Also, according to Jillian Michaels, Gluten-free foods aren’t better for your health. She stated, don’t be fooled — gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean “low calorie” or “healthy.” In fact, gluten-free foods are not only more expensive, but full of extra calories and sugars to make up for taste and texture when alternative products are swapped. They also tend to have less fiber than their gluten-containing counterparts. Unless people are careful, a gluten-free diet can lack essential nutrients since a lot of the gluten-free products tend to be low in B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Another rule of thumb, don’t confuse “gluten free” with “low carbohydrate,” some gluten-free pastas are actually higher in carbohydrates than regular pasta.
A few helpful links:
To Go Gluten-Free Or Not?
While we can all agree that Gluten-Free foods might to be the only option for Celiac Disease sufferers, they may have little to no benefits to the non sufferers. The key is to always remember that Gluten Free diet doesn’t necessarily mean healthy since some products can be high in calories and carbohydrates. In the end, the key to a healthier self is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and give our body all the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Always Read Food Nutrition Labels to understand and make healthier choices, contributing to an overall healthy diet. Which ever route you take, you should stick with the diet that works for you.