Gluten-free foods are everywhere right now, and they are marketed in a way that makes the general public believe that a gluten-free diet is a healthier diet. But is that the truth or just the perception? Is gluten-free always healthier?
For starters, let’s define gluten since most people don’t know exactly what it is. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat. It makes up most of the protein content in wheat flour and it is what gives breads and pastas its elasticity and texture.
For those who suffer from Celiac’s disease or from a gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten is important. People with Celiac’s disease can’t digest gluten and as a result it ends up damaging the small intestines and can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies. A gluten sensitivity is not said to be damaging to the intestines but it does cause similar uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms as Celiac’s disease. Symptoms can include bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea and fatigue.
If you do not have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac’s disease, there is likely no reason to go on a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free does not always equate to healthier food. If, however, you cut gluten out of your diet and you find that you have more energy and feel better, then you probably have a sensitivity to gluten and can benefit from cutting it out of your diet. (Please note: It is always best to determine whether or not you should cut out gluten with the help of a physician.)
Many products that are created simply to be gluten-free are lacking in nutrients and are higher in calories. Don’t be fooled: just because a product is gluten-free does not mean it is healthy.
If you don’t have Celiac’s disease or a gluten sensitivity, cutting out gluten won’t make you healthier, but consuming more whole foods will. The more whole foods you eat, the more nutrients you are supplying your body with, which makes it easier for your body to fight off illness and disease. Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Whole foods in their natural state (unprocessed) are always best, but if that is not possible, always go for the least processed you can find. For example, go for raw nuts instead of roasted, dried beans instead of canned, and steel cut oats instead of rolled oats.
Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net, Paul