The Great Gluten Debate
An evolution has evolved and people are taking notice. In the past, finding good gluten free products was a challenge but not anymore. New gluten-free products are popping constantly, making it a great time to be gluten conscience.
However, the real question is: Is going gluten-free right for me?
As with any great debate, there are always going to be pros and cons. We take a closer look at them in today’s post to help provide a bit more clarity.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, barley and rye. It’s common in foods such as bread, pasta, pizza and cereal. Gluten provides no essential nutrients.
Gluten is the protein that gives dough its characteristic stretch and helps give bread its structure. Wheat is a grain, while gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, and other grains related to wheat.
According to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center a full 63% of Americans believe that a gluten-free diet could improve their mental or physical health. And up to a third of Americans are cutting back on it in the hope that it will improve their health or prevent disease.
Celiac’s Disease – No Gluten For You!
For those who suffer from Celiac disease, going gluten free is a must. Current estimates suggest that up to 1% of the population has this condition. The only true way to know if you have this genetic disorder is to have a blood test completed for a protein called tissue transglutaminase as well as an intestinal biopsy. The blood test alone will not fully diagnose you so the biopsy is a must.
People with celiac disease have an immune reaction that is triggered by eating gluten. They develop inflammation and damage in their intestinal tracts and other parts of the body when they eat foods containing gluten. Eating gluten-free is necessary to eliminate the inflammation, as well as the symptoms.
Are you Gluten Intolerant or Gluten Sensitive?
It’s all about cause and effect and your particular genetic makeup. For those who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms or even serious complications.
It can be somewhat tricky to know if you are experiencing gluten sensitivity symptoms. One reason is that many people have no symptoms at all. Another reason is that symptoms may present themselves in disguise as other health issues. For example, the classic gluten intolerance or sensitivity symptom is diarrhea. Other common symptoms include bloating, constipation, fatigue, headaches, acne, pain in the abdomen or joints, numbness in limbs, brain fog, depression, anxiety and anemia.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, gluten could certainly be the culprit.
Step 1: Take notes in a journal of what you’re eating daily and how you feel after each meal. If you find that you’re eating gluten in a meal and having any of these symptoms afterwards, it could be a better indication that you’re suffering from gluten sensitivities.
Step 2: You can then try eliminating gluten from your diet completely and record how you are feeling after each meal. If you still are experiencing problems after elimination you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns and what to do next.
Going gluten free requires you to look at the labels on your food more closely than you normally would. In turn, it allows you to be more conscience of what you are putting into your body and that’s a VERY good thing!
Going GF also requires you to introduce healthier carbohydrates into your diet such as quinoa, buckwheat, millet and chia. And for you bakers out there, the number of gluten free baking flours on the market are exploding with the use of almonds, chickpeas, coconut, etc. All of these grains and flours are highly nutritious, nutrient-dense options that will go the extra mile for your health.
Give It A Test Run
As nutritionists, we like to suggest trying something for a couple of weeks to see how your body responds. Strip away the gluten for two weeks and see how you feel. If you feel great, experience more energy, feel less bloated and are happier as a result, by all means, keep it up!
The Blendtopia Team