Do you understand gluten?
Is gluten free just a trend?
The answer: yes and no. (Warning: this is a very sensitive topic for most people!)
I do eat gluten free. But I’m far from trendy. And no I am not a celiac. So what gives?
First off, let me tell you what gluten is: it’s a sticky protein composite found in many grains including wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats, kamut, semolina, farina and bulgur. Gluten is the protein found in many grains including wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats. You ever wonder what gives the elasticity to dough when you’re baking? Well that’s good ol’ gluten for ya. Gluten can also be found in many beauty products, meat products, processed foods, everyday cosmetics and even veggie burgers! Weird, right?
If you have celiac’s disease even a tiny amount of gluten is harmful. It damages the surface of your small intestine resulting in poor absorption of nutrients (protein, fat, vitamins and minerals) which are necessary for your overall good health. Some researches have shown gluten to be a toxin compound which damages the intestines and makes it leaky. They believe that a leaky gut is one of the biggest liability factors for conditions such as diabetes, obesity and autoimmune disease. Hence some reasons why it doesn’t hurt for me to avoid gluten.
There are people who might consider a gluten free diet to be healthy or “great for weight loss.” But that’s not always the case. You can be on a gluten free diet and not lose any weight. It really all depends on how you do gluten free. Even though a product might be labeled free of it, it does not always mean that it’s healthy. There are a ton of unhealthy products on the shelf labeled gluten free that are just as bad as the non gluten versions. This is the importance of reading the ingredients and not just the front of the package. Get smart about reading those important labels!
The problem these days is that a lot of people follow the “gluten free” diet and a) don’t know what it is yet tell you it’s bad for you and b) you can classify it like any other commercialized diet like paleo, weight watchers, macro, etc. I would be inclined to point out that you can’t just do gluten free and eat loads amount of sugar and simple carbohydrates. Just because it’s removed from the diet, does not mean you should ignore everything else that may be bad for you. It should be a lifestyle change with the intent to eliminate other things like it that are more importantly detrimental to the general health: high fructose syrup, trans fat, sugar, wheat, simple carbs, added preservatives, toxins, processed foods, artificial flavours, GMO (soy and corn), dairy, and meat.
Now you don’t need to have full blown celiac to have unfavorable reactions to gluten. You could have a gluten sensitivity and not even know it. There are unwelcoming symptoms similar to celiac disease which include bloating, stomach pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, runny stools and even joint pains. We live in a world where westernized breads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, baked goods are all so accessible yet we wonder why sometimes it’s hard for us to lose weight or why we have certain health conditions and problems. Don’t you think it’s crazy that the bulk of North American meals mainly consists of wheat/bread products (which contain gluten btw!)
Though gluten sensitivities are common these days, there are is no apparent definition of gluten sensitivity. The only way to know if it affects you is by eliminating gluten from your diet and see how your body progresses or if symptoms leave. Symptoms can include: acne, skin infections, low energy, bloating, fatigue, stool inconsistency, interrupted digestion, etc. You might be surprised that cutting bread out of your life will do you good! And it’s probably not just the gluten but the consumption of heavy wheat and simple carbs you’re digesting that might also be affecting you. You may have other food sensitivities that you probably don’t know about! Listen to your body.
It really isn’t just for celiacs or gluten intolerants! When properly done, it can be (good) for you too. Here are some health factors on going gluten free: reduces acne, manages eczema, brightens complexions, regulates anemia, reduces bloating, absorb nutrients effectively, helps to regulate bowl movements, regulates hormones, regulates weight, regulates blood sugar, manages acid reflux and can help to reduce other food sensitivities!
For me, going gluten free means cutting out excess carbs out of my diet (breads, cereals, wheat/corn pastas, muffins, crackers, pitas, etc) and eating whole grain foods such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and brown rice! Don’t fret – I still enjoy bread and cakes in moderation but in a healthier way by using grain free ingredients like almond flour and coconut flour instead of wheat. (You probably already know this from previous post recipes.) In a future blog post, I will discuss the importance of a wheat free belly and why I believe everyone should have it!
I’m not a health nutritionist or a food expert but I speak only from my own experiences. At the end of the day, the single most important thing you can do is aim for a healthy, nutritionally balanced, whole foods diet – the key to optimal health!