Over the last few years, “gluten-free” has become the biggest trend in nutrition. Can dumping gluten really help you live a healthier life or lose weight? If you start following a gluten-free diet, what foods does it mean you’ll have to cross off your shopping lists? OnlineHealthWiki’s guide to the gluten-free diet.
What exactly is gluten and why is it such a problem for many people?
Gluten is a protein present in grain products like wheat, rye, and barley. That means cereals, granola, baked goods, cookies, breads, pastas, and crackers all contain gluten. It’s also present in a lot of other foods that wouldn’t at first glance seem to contain grain, things like sauces, condiments, and even beauty products. It seems like it’s everywhere. For someone who wants, or worse, someone who needs to avoid gluten, that is a really big problem.
The fact that gluten is found in so many products is what makes it really dangerous.
Gluten is included in many products because it gives them a sticky, gooey quality. But for people with celiac disease, exposure to gluten is a real threat. The painful side effects that gluten causes in people with celiac disease range from intestinal damage and pain to skin rashes and severe headaches. Even a person’s emotional state can be negatively affected by gluten.
But these problems extend to other people than celiac sufferers. Doctors have only recently discovered that huge numbers of the population—people who don’t have celiac disease—experience similar side effects when eating gluten. This condition is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Not everyone who has the sensitivity experiences the same symptoms from the same amount of gluten. Just a trace amount of gluten can affect some gluten-sensitive people as badly as if they had celiac disease. Others will only feel minor symptoms after eating a more sizable amount of the protein.
These reactions to gluten have completely baffled doctors. They aren’t even sure how many people are out there suffering from undiagnosed symptoms of gluten sensitivity right now. For people suffering from these symptoms, there seems to only be one effective treatment: cutting gluten out diet stops the pain.
But is eliminating gluten an effective way to lose weight for the rest of us?
The human digestive system did not evolve to process the gluten protein. It was only with the invention of farming and bread-making 10,000 years ago that it entered the human diet. To some extent, none of us are really made to eat gluten. So should you cut it out?
Cutting gluten out of a diet will usually help to lose weight just by limiting your carb intake. That means you’ll have fewer cravings from spiking blood sugar. But if you are one of those people suffering from gluten-sensitivity without knowing it, cutting out gluten could mean living more comfortably. If you suspect that you experience reactions to eating gluten, check with your doctor before you change anything about your diet.