For some time now the gluten-free diet has become an increasingly popular way of life. With celebrities endorsing it and famous chefs creating diets that completely exclude gluten, it’s small wonder that the trend has been adopted by so many.
It has become generally accepted that gluten free is the healthier choice. But is gluten free really healthier?
Today we take a look at what gluten free eating does to your body, who really should avoid gluten, and how to determine whether gluten free eating is for you or not.
In the last 60 years, the instances of gluten intolerance have risen 400%. Many of these cases are linked with Celiac disease. However, many of them are also simply labelled “gluten intolerant”.
This rise in sensitivity has been a major contributor to the concept that all gluten-based food is bad for you.
What Is Gluten?
In case don’t know – gluten is a protein which is usually found in large quantities in wheat, barley, and rye. It is found in unexpected places in most processed foods, often under other names. Other labels for gluten include: “Starch”, “malt”, “texturized vegetable protein”, “hydrogenised vegetable protein”, and even “natural flavourings”.
Why is Gluten bad for you?
In Latin “gluten” translates to glue. It’s because of its glue-like qualities that it’s so good for sticking together bread, cakes and even burger patties. Many baked goods companies even add extra gluten to your bread to give it that spongy bounce.
The problem is that this glue-like quality also has an impact on your digestive system. For many, your body views gluten as a foreign substance, rather than food. This causes the body to react against it – causing IBS, diarrhoea and other stomach complaints. It also gets gummed up in your system and can cause constipation and abdominal cramps.
This gummed up state causes inflammation in your intestines – which as we know is a recipe for disaster in the long term. One of the long-term problems with this state is that your small intestine lining becomes weak and permeable, making it easier for you to develop leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut syndrome allows intestinal fluid to enter your blood stream directly through the fissures in the lining – which can cause major health issues, from inflammation to nutrient deficiencies, and hyper sensitivity to other foods.
One of the diseases linked to extreme gluten sensitivity is Celiac disease. Celiac is digestive disorder which causes the lining of the intestine to become incapable of absorbing nutrients. It can cause terrible nausea, and stomach cramps, lethargy and general poor health. Because your body isn’t able to absorb iron and other nutrients you can become anaemic and malnourished, even though you are eating foods rich in iron and nutrients. Your body simply can’t absorb them.
Gluten or Modern methods – what’s the real problem?
While those with serious cases such as Celiac disease may never be able to eat gluten and be healthy, not every gluten intolerant person is really allergic to gluten.
One of the major issues is the way our food is treated.
Many people who appear to be appear to be suffering from gluten-related health issues, are actually just reacting to the pesticides and treatments used in modern grain farming.
The wheat we eat today is nothing like the wheat of 100 years ago. Thanks to crop hybridisation, there is much more gluten protein in modern wheat than there used to be. We are also using pure wheat in our modern flour, whereas before it would have been mixed with other grains. This super-refined, extra glutinous flour is the base of most of the modern diet.
In addition, we are eating non-organic wheat which is grown using Monsanto’s controversial Roundup – the Glyphosate based herbicide that is known for causing illness, allergies, and a variety of chronic disorders, including cancer. The Glyphosate also changes the structure of the gluten proteins, making them harder than ever for your body to digest.
Gluten Free might be No Better
After reading about what too much gluten non-organic grains can do to you, you might be thinking of cutting all gluten out of your diet forever. But going gluten-free might be just as bad for you!
The problems with Gluten free alternatives
Low Nutritional Value
According to a Consumer Report conducted by the University of Texas, found that going gluten free without the help of a nutritionist could quickly lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Because so many people believe that they are eating something healthy just because it’s gluten free, they don’t take the time to discover that the alternatives to wheat fli=our are not fortified with iron, vitamins and minerals, like wheat flour is. These people often don’t realise how much they were relying on that fortification for a healthy nutrition balance.
Added Sugar, Salt and Fat
Another unexpected nasty that often occurs in gluten free foods – is that they contain higher sugar, sodium and fat levels in order to make up for the change in taste, texture and consistency. So, although you aren’t eating gluten, you are loading up on other dangerous things instead.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Dallas found that Walmart Blueberry muffins contained 340 calories and 24 grams of sugar. The Gluten free muffin contained 370 calories and 31 grams of sugar! Similar comparisons were found in a variety of food stuffs from a variety of outlets.
Blood Pressure Regulation & Healthy Bacteria
Some studies have found that gluten has positive effects on triglycerides which can improve your blood pressure, and that eating a gluten free diet reduces your good gastric bacteria.
So, what is the right thing to do? Eat it or leave it?
Who can safely eat Gluten?
With all of these seemingly conflicting facts about gluten out there, how can we know what to do to be healthy? The answer is actually quite simple.
Find out your story first. Before you commit to this or that diet, figure out what your personal needs are. If you suspect you might have Celiac disease, go for a formal assessment, and find out for sure. Those who genuinely have Celiac disease need to avoid gluten in all forms.
Change your way of life. If you have Celiac disease it’s not enough to just order the gluten free muffin. It might be nice for an occasional treat, but you actually have to change your entire diet to include more home-made food, raw food and whole foods. Processed foods need to leave your shopping list forever.
Choose to Eat Organic. Anything processed and sugar loaded is going to be bad for. It’s okay to eat some gluten in your diet, if you make sure you choose organic grown grains, and unprocessed food. Buy your own organic stone-ground flour and make your own bread.
With the modern bread makers at our disposal it can be as easy as setting a timer and throwing the ingredients together.
Other good choices include large-flake rolled oats (which you cook yourself) rather than quick cooking oats. Check the label to ensure that it’s not mixed with anything else. Oats contains some gluten, but if you choose the organic, non-processed variety (and you don’t have Celiac) this amount of gluten shouldn’t hurt you.
Your best choice is always to investigate your food. Check the labels and if there is anything you don’t understand avoid it until you have had a chance to investigate. Remember – when in doubt, cook from scratch, use whole, raw ingredients, and avoid anything flavored or processed.
Gluten free or not ultimately lies with your digestive system. After all, gluten can cause leaky gut or celiac disease.
If you have a weak digestive system, and suffering from digestive issues, go to the next page and learn more about the 3 tips to reverse these digestive-related issues –
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice. Learn how you can lose weight fast – How to lose weight by adding these alkaline foods.
If you are on or tried a gluten-free diet, do share with us your experience below!
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