You might have heard of gluten free diets before? They’re pretty popular at the moment, and as it is Coeliac Awareness Week in March, now seems a good time to look a little deeper at what gluten free is all about.
Coeliac disease is a sensitivity to gluten, which causes destruction of the gut lining, allowing particles to permeate the gut and enter the blood stream, which shouldn’t be there. This can cause an autoimmune reaction and various symptoms including headaches, stomach pains, bloating, weight gain and more.
Gluten itself is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. A small percentage of the population are intolerant to gluten, suffer from coeliac disease and should avoid these foods.
A larger percentage of the population are not intolerant, but may be reactive to gluten and suffer smaller symptoms. If you’re in this category you might benefit from trying a gluten free diet.
To follow a gluten free diet, you simply avoid foods which contain the grains wheat, barley, and rye. That means anything with flour; breads, pastry or pasta. Check labels to be certain.
You can get gluten free alternatives to these foods in many supermarkets or speciality health food stores. Alternatively, just switch them out for whole foods like meat and fish, vegetables, and fruits.
It is common that following a gluten free diet can increase energy levels, reduce bloating, aid weight loss and leave you feeling fitter and healthier. Give it a try for a few weeks and see how you feel.
But if your body has no adverse reaction to gluten at all, then removing gluten from your diet has no direct effect on your health. It may help with weight loss, because removing gluten is limiting your intake of carbohydrates. However, for example, removing gluten from a muffin that is high in sugar and fat, is not going to make it a healthier option.
Gluten free is essential for some and beneficial for others, but it is important to be discerning about removing gluten from our diet.