gluten free

Everyone's going gluten free

Every other person seems to be going ‘gluten free’ and apparently feeling heaps better for it.  We nod and smile but what even is gluten and why would we want to cut it from our diet?  It’s all the rage in Hollywood where celebs say it’s made them feel more energised and helped with weight loss.  Now it’s the time of summer diets everyone’s looking for that one thing that will work – should we all go gluten free?

WHY SAY NO TO GLUTEN?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye grains. It puts the ‘good’ in baked goods, it puts the stretch in your pizza dough and the sponginess to your bread, it’s also used to thicken sauces, dressings and soups.  The word gluten comes from the Latin word for glue and that’s what it does – it acts as the ‘glue’ in our food to hold it together.

Some people cut gluten out of their diet to remedy a digestive disorder called coeliac disease.  It’s pretty common and affects 1 in 100 but only 10-15% are diagnosed.   People who have a severe form of this can’t even face eating the tiniest bit of gluten as it leads to diarrhoea, stomach cramps, tiredness and headaches.  It can end up damaging the small intestine leading to further possible problems of cancer, infertility and osteoporosis.

Something referred to as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is becoming much more common.  This is where people experience the similar cramps, diarrhoea and bloating without the damage to the intestine. 

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GET YOUR VITAMINS

If you’re going to take the plunge and cut out gluten there is loads of food on the market so you definitely won’t be going hungry.  Don’t be tricked into thinking that just because it’s gluten free it’s healthy, steer clear of foods high in fats and sugars.

Some pre-packaged gluten free foods can be expensive.  Keep it cheaper and healthier by opting for natural foods.  Remember that gluten free foods are often lower in B vitamins, zinc, calcium and iron.  You can get these into your diet by having fresh fruits and veg, nuts, seeds and lean meats.

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IS IT JUST ANOTHER FAD DIET?

Now that more and more people are diagnosed with gluten intolerances, the gluten free diet is much more common.  Some people say that cutting gluten from their diets has cured them of a range of things, from migraines to chronic fatigue.  While it’s worked for some people it won’t be the answer for all.

People are turning to a gluten free diet in a bid to shift some pounds before summer.  There are conflicting verdicts on whether cutting out gluten will successfully make you lose weight. The main reason that people see the positive effects of cutting out gluten is because it eliminates a bunch of ‘bad’ foods like pizza, pasta and cakes.

A gluten-free diet may make you feel better but it isn’t guaranteed to make you lose weight.  Buying pre-packaged gluten free food doesn’t ensure that it has fewer calories than something with gluten.  Because gluten is usually used to bind foods, gluten free foods can be made with more fat and sugar to make up for the lack of gluten and make them taste more like their ‘normal’ counterparts.

There was an experiment done on mice that is a bit more encouraging if you’re still considering it.  Gluten was eliminated from the diet of mice and their levels of a fat busting enzyme increased.  It meant that their fat mass and fat cell size decreased despite overeating.

So, it looks like the jury’s out on whether a gluten free diet is worth doing unless you’re a coeliac or have gluten intolerance.

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