Chances are if you have been around any kind of media source lately you have heard about the gluten-free fad. A recent poll done by a marketing research company found 30% of adults claim to be going gluten-free. Do you know someone who has gone gluten-free? Have you tried to go gluten-free yourself? Do you even know what gluten is? Before you decide to give up gluten it is important to know all of the facts.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is important to our foods because it is what gives baked products elasticity. Without gluten you would not be able to shape your pizza dough or knead your bread dough. Contrary to what you may have heard gluten is not a toxin and it is not a harmful particle.
So why would cutting this little protein out of your diet help you feel better? For a small percentage of the population going gluten-free is not an option. They have a disease called Celiac’s which keeps their body from being able to digest the gluten protein. For these people ingesting gluten can lead to severe gastrointestinal discomfort and they must avoid all gluten containing products. However, if you are not part of the estimated 1% of the population suffering from Celiac then there is little research to support a gluten-free diet being beneficial to you.
Many partakers of the gluten-free diet claim to have more energy, weight loss, and just all around feel better. However, these results are probably more related to them cutting fast foods/processed foods out of their diet and being forced to consume more fruits and vegetables in attempts to avoid gluten. These are two healthy and beneficial steps you can take without going on a gluten-free diet.
Going gluten-free also means having to cut valuable grains out of your diet, especially whole grains that are high in fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. These whole grains are beneficial in helping to prevent high cholesterol, diabetes, and many other conditions. Unfortunately many of the gluten-free substitutes have little to no nutritional value since they are made with refined grains.
Before starting any diet it’s always important to make sure quality research has been done and the results are positive. Instead of going gluten-free make a more conscious effort to avoid fast foods and increase your fruit and vegetable consumption. Switch from white breads to 100% whole grain breads. Get 30 minutes of exercise a day. After all these changes see how you start feeling. These small steps are enough to keep me feeling healthy, and that’s why I’m not going gluten-free any time soon!