Gluten is a type of protein that is not found in eggs or meat but found in rye, wheat, and barley. The term gluten encompasses a mixture of wheat storage proteins. Gliadin is the protein found in wheat, hordein is found in barley, and secalin is found in rye. All these proteins are categorized as gluten. A gluten-free diet usually involves avoiding such grains; particularly for individuals who are allergic to gluten or have celiac disease where the intestines get damaged if the individual eats gluten. Essentially, such individuals have gluten intolerance which is a condition where the body is unable to break down or digest gluten. This article delves into answering the question “Is gluten free healthy?”
General Information about Gluten-Free Diet Plans
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, estimates that about one in every 133 Americans suffers from celiac disease. For individuals on a gluten-free diet, it is imperative to always pay attention to labels on different foods. In addition to the obvious sources of gluten such as wheat, rye, and barley, it is critical to watch out for labels which show hydrolyzed vegetable protein or malt (an extract of barley).
Foods That Contain Gluten
It is important to know the foods that contain gluten:
- Foods such as oats might not have gluten but have been known to exacerbate symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
- Other foods that contain gluten are muffins, bagels, hamburger buns, scones, and croissants.
- Cheerios are made of wheat starch.
- Frosted Flakes are made from malt flavoring.
- For most types of pasta, the main ingredient happens to be wheat. Therefore, it is essential to avoid regular spaghetti, shells, spirals, or macaroni for an individual who is gluten-free.
- Cracked wheat.
- Malt vinegar.
- Soy sauce.
- Veggie burgers.
- Soba noodles.
- Some types of seasonings and spice mixes.
- Foods fried in oil in which breaded products have been fried.
Fortunately, there are many supermarkets and health foods stores that stock an assortment of foods which are gluten-free as they are made from potato or rice flour. For example, alternative pastas that are gluten free include those from quinoa, corn, or rice.
Dangers of a Gluten-Free Diet
Many people grapple with the question is gluten free healthy? The answer lies in being informed about the weaknesses of the diet. Here are weaknesses of the diet plan.
Deficiency in Certain Nutrients
Individuals who adhere to a gluten-free diet are usually at risk of suffering from nutritional deficiencies in fiber, vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, vitamins A, K, E, D, and A, and iron. Instead, research shows that gluten-free food plans frequently have high levels of salt, sugar, and lipids. Additionally, in most cases, the focus on food labels can cause individuals to deviate from consuming nutritious foods such as vegetables and fruits.
The lack of fiber intake usually occurs due to the processing mechanisms applied to produce gluten-free foods where the outer layer of grains which contains fiber is removed thus leaving the starchy layer. Also, since individuals on gluten-free diets do not consume fortified bread which is rich in B-vitamins, it is easy to overlook such nutrients and thus suffer from the deficiency of these vitamins. This deficiency can be especially detrimental for pregnant women because B vitamins are critical for the development of a healthy baby.
Gluten-free diets often cause constipation because of the lack of fiber commonly found in bread, bran, as well as other wheat-based foods. Fiber is a vital component in the promotion of healthy bowel movements. But such individuals could look into getting fiber from vegetables and fruits. Ideal sources of fiber are lentils, beans, broccoli, berries, Brussels, and berries.
Gluten-free diets typically amount to approximately double the cost of regular diets. Manufacturers of such foods expend more resources to produce gluten-free foods and have to adhere to strict standards of contamination raising the cost of production. The cost is then passed to the consumer making the foods expensive.
Individuals who follow gluten-free diet regimens usually face challenges in various social settings because many restaurants lack gluten-free options. Additionally, social events rarely serve gluten-free options or might claim to have gluten-free foods but such foods are tainted with traces of gluten.
Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet: Is Gluten Free Healthy?
Relief for Digestive Complications
Most individuals on a gluten-free diet typically choose to follow such diet regimes to treat digestive problems. Some of the common complications include diarrhea, bloating, gas, fatigue, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or constipation. Diet plays an essential role in the outcome of individuals with IBS and studies show that implementation of a gluten-free diet can relieve symptoms of IBS.
Moreover, adhering to a gluten-free diet plan has the potential to alleviate digestive problems; especially for people with sensitivities to gluten and those with celiac disease. An individual on such a diet can experience decreased stomach pain and a lower frequency of nausea, diarrhea, as well as other symptoms.
Decreased Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process that occurs concomitantly with healing because it helps the body in healing and treating various infections. In some cases, inflammation can go out of control and prolong for weeks, months, or years. Such inflammation is referred to as chronic inflammation, a condition which can cause various health complications.
Adhering to a gluten-free diet can lower the incidence of chronic inflammation in individuals who are intolerant to gluten. Studies show that gluten-free diets help decrease the markers of inflammation such as the levels of antibodies. Additionally, the diet can aid in treating damage in the gut caused by gluten-related inflammation.
Individuals suffering from gluten intolerance tend to feel sluggish, tired, or experience brain fog in some instances. Such symptoms arise due to the deficiency in some nutrients occasioned by damage to the gut. Iron deficiencies, for example, can cause anemia, a condition common in celiac disease.
In most instances, individuals who follow a gluten-free diet tend to lose weight. The loss in weight primarily occurs due to the eradication of unwanted calories in junk foods and incorporation of vegetables, lean proteins, and fruits.
Summing Up: Is Gluten Free Healthy?
So, is gluten free healthy? Following a diagnosis of gluten intolerance, numerous individuals might feel overwhelmed by which diet plan to follow. It is imperative to seek answers from reliable sources of information concerning gluten-free foods. A gluten-free diet is a healthy food plan. However, it is important to understand both the benefits and weaknesses of the diet to make up for areas where the diet lacks certain nutrients. This article is a comprehensive guide to help you understand what the diet is about. Your comments are always welcome if you have additional knowledge on the topic.