Are you still consuming gluten or have you committed yourself to eating gluten-free? There seems to be an upcoming aversion against gluten. I hear it more often that people are leaving gluten out of their diet, because they say it’s not good for their health or is causing weight gain. Gluten have gotten a bad reputation lately, but is that fair? What is the actual impact on the body? Time for some explanation!
Let’s start with some basic facts! Gluten is a protein found in certain kinds of grain. These gluten-containing grains are wheat, rye, barley, kamut and spelt. This means products made of these grains, like bread, spaghetti or cookies contain gluten, but the flour of these grains is added in many other products, even once you won’t expect it. For example soy sauce, processed meat, and it can even be in our beloved chocolate!
Why some people need to follow a gluten-free diet?
1. Some people can’t handle gluten at all. They suffer from gluten intolerance, also called celiac. Eating gluten causes damage to the walls of the gut, causing all sorts of uncomfortable complaints. A strict gluten-free diet is necessary to avoid malabsorption of nutrients and unwanted health issues.
2. Then there are people that don’t suffer from celiac, but do find discomfort from eating gluten, though in a lesser extent. They are sensitive to gluten.
3. It’s also possible to have an allergy to wheat, which means you can’t handle wheat but other grains aren’t causing any problems. Gluten-containing grains can be replaced with for example teff, rice, buckwheat, quinoa and oats (those last two can be contaminated with gluten though, so aren’t suited when having celiac).
More and more people are avoiding wheat and gluten while they aren’t intolerant or sensitive to it.
And it may seem that eating gluten-free is best to prevent any health issues. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. I believe this seems more like a hype than something that is necessary for people to do so. We can’t call gluten healthy or unhealthy, because this differs for everyone.
What do I think about it?
I think it is more important to have a wide variety of food in your diet and you should eat what you can digest properly. Grains contain many good nutrients, especially vitamin B1, folic acid, iron, and lots of fiber. If you’re leaving gluten out of your diet, make sure you won’t come short of any of these nutrients! Gluten itself don’t cause weight gain. Leaving this out of your diet however could result in weight loss, because you’re making other food choices that work better for you.
Feeling uncomfortable after eating bread or other grain products? Then this might come from gluten. But (!) it can also be the other added ingredients in the product that causes this, making you feel not as good as when you’d be eating natural unprocessed food.
It makes it hard to decide what is best to eat without proper research. Whole grain contains all the good original stuff which are almost gone in the ‘white’ variants. So when you eat products made from grain, always make sure it is whole grain. Fresh non-grain products usually don’t contain gluten and are always best instead of processed food. Veggies, fruit, nuts, beans, meat, fish, etc. are all great choices!
Should we all leave gluten out of our diets?
My answer is that we don’t have to if we don’t experience any problems from it. It really depends on how your body reacts to it and too much is never a good thing. But are you suffering from bowel problems or other health issues that might be food related? Then try leaving gluten out and see what this does. It might be your cure!
Do you have celiac, are you gluten-sensitive or do you just feel better without gluten? Please share your experiences with me girls! I’m always interested in your stories and hope this blog post will help you 🙂