Eating gluten free has become a new popular occurrence among the health conscious and diet seeking population. Sometimes certain nutritional terms such as “organic” quickly get confused to be interpreted as healthier, better for you, or even weight loss conducive.
Whether true or not, the reason for choosing to eat gluten free lies in the body’s reaction to certain types of grains. These very grain such as barley, rye, and the big one….wheat, are the ingredients that make delicious bread rise and moist. It gives foods their shape and chewiness. There are plenty of foods that contain gluten whether we are aware of it not.
When gluten is consumed, the small intestine reacts negatively with an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine and can prevention absorption of nutrients.
This results in diarrhea, bloating, and fatigue. Anemia can even result due to malabsorption. Not getting all the necessary nutrients the body needs is of particular risk to growing children. Signs such as rashes, headaches, and joint pain also signal the body that gluten is not welcome.
Luckily, there are plenty of food options when gluten is eliminated. There are actually whole grains that are gluten free, but reading the nutritional label is always necessary.
These include brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, oats, and millet. Again, be careful to read the labels because sometimes during labeling or processing, gluten can contaminate items.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are also naturally gluten free, but it is necessary to keep an eye out for any canned, dried, frozen, or pre-chopped selections.
Protein is another gluten-free option including red meat, poultry, seafood, and soy containing items such as tofu. However, keep an eye out for deli meats, ground meats, processed meats like hotdogs, and ready to eat or microwavable choices.
Fats and Oils Make The Gluten Free List As Well
These include avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and vegetables oils. Be mindful of cooking sprays. Dairy can be a gluten free option including cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, cheese, and sour cream. Look out for anything flavored including ice cream.
Of all these choices, stick to a well-balanced diet because many gluten containing foods are nutritious for you and you are leaving them out of the equation. Gluten free eating tends to provide less fiber which is needed for digestive health.
Another key point to address is that gluten free doesn’t give the green light for calorie free and eating as much as you would like. To often as a trainer I hear after eating muffins or cookies, “Yeah but it was gluten free”.
You understand this means it just doesn’t have gluten, but still has sugar, fat, carbohydrates, everything else, right? Otherwise we would all switch over to gluten free.
There are definitely pros and cons to this type of eating. Benefits include less inflammation, less processed foods, and more grains. However, the downside can be the lack of nutrients, more time for preparation, and sometimes weight gain.
Everybody can respond differently so there is no defined answer to whether gluten in and of itself is bad for you or not.
The growing gluten intolerant population is rising and grocery stores and restaurants and carrying more and more of these types of foods.
Always be an advocate for your health and understand when your body is giving you signals that something needs to be addressed. Whether gluten free is the way to be or not, lies in your small intestine’s choice.