“Gluten free” has become a popular buzz word in the diet/nutrition industry within the past few years. Just look around and nutritionalists and dietitians have argued gluten free pros and cons, but I personally have been gluten free for seven years and I have never once regretted my decision to remove gluten from my diet-I feel amazing. So, here is the scoop on gluten-why it is bad.
Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
Surprisingly, about 1% of people have Celiac disease. When gluten is consumed it causes the immune system to attack the proteins found in gluten which ultimately attack the villi of the small intestine. Gluten is primarily found in foods made with wheat, barley, and rye. Some folks undoubtably have wheat allergies or a gluten intolerance that make foods (bread, pasta, crackers some lunch meats and salad dressings) made with these grains or grain by products an obvious food to avoid. The properties of gluten bind flour with water in dough and create an elastic type of substance. If you have ever handled flour dough (the consistency is sticky and yes, doughy) it is not hard to imagine how this might be difficult for your body to digest. I am not at all an expert on Celiac Disease, so I encourage you to click here for more information on Celiac Disease. But if you are not in the wheat allergy or gluten intolerance category, there are still a few ways that gluten in your diet can negatively affect your health. However, please note that Celiac disease is on the rise, as is gluten sensitivity and intolerance.
Possible Effects of Gluten Consumption
Those without Celiac disease can still suffer some effects of gluten such as:
- Inflammation of the intestine, or other inflammatory conditions in the body-this occurs when the intestinal wall is attacked in response to the proteins in gluten.
- Gas, Bloating, Fatigue and Malnutrition.
- Continued development of wheat allergies or wheat intolerance.
- Causing irritable bowel syndrome.
- Development of neurological diseases.
- Gluten and wheat can create addictive-type cravings, which may lead to overconsumption of carbohydrates and weight gain.
The Biggest Culprit?
The worst grain that contains gluten is wheat, and consuming too much wheat has its own adverse effects, primarily by raising blood sugar levels as wheat is converted to glucose in the blood. This leads to unnatural cravings for more wheat, and contributes to hunger levels and weight gain. In extreme cases, overconsumption of carbohydrates and resulting weight gain can cause diabetes due to these unnatural spikes in blood sugar levels.
Eliminating Gluten Is Now Easier Than Ever
Eliminating grain carbohydrates that contain gluten may seem difficult, but there are literally so many gluten free options available. I have seen over the years that most restaurants and even fast food chains are offering gluten free menus. Just ask your server and they will most likely have one or have food preparation options for you to select.
A lot of grocery stores now have gluten free products and some grocers have an entire aisle designated for GF foods. Another recent convenience I’ve noticed is that some food manufacturers are being helpful and putting GF labels on the front of the box or bags that are gluten free.
There are also multiple low carbohydrate diets, such as the Paleo and South Beach diet. These diets promote eating more protein, fruits and vegetables and without even trying, these diets eliminate or reduce gluten consumption. Since there is no harm in eliminating gluten, trying a gluten free diet for 30 days may give you some insight about your body’s sensitivity. Even if you chose not to try a low carb diet, there are other grains that are gluten free such as rice , quinoa and oats.
Have you often wondered why you don’t feel well after a meal of bread or pasta? Have you thought about the possibility of having a gluten sensitivity? Remember that cutting gluten from your diet does not have any adverse health effects, and you may uncover a gluten sensitivity that you did not know you had. Even if you find that you are not gluten sensitive, the grain carbohydrates that contain gluten have their own list of drawbacks. I would love to hear your personal story-if you have one, please share it with us below.