It has become nearly impossible to avoid the gluten-free diet. If family or friends haven’t warned you about gluten, you have probably noticed gluten-free products and menu items in grocery stores and restaurants. All of this hype may be leading you to believe that you should cut gluten from your diet as well.
Before you make any serious changes to your diet, it is important that you do your research, understand the effects these changes will make, and consult with a nutritionist or dietitian first. Understanding this recent gluten-free trend can be a bit confusing. Let’s take a closer look at some of the truths behind this dietary choice.
Most People Do Not Need To Stop Eating Gluten
Completely avoiding gluten is only an absolute necessity for about 1 in every 133 people, according to the Huffington Post. These are the people who have celiac disease. This is an inherited autoimmune disease that means that gluten will cause damage to the person’s small intestine when ingested. An even smaller percentage of people are allergic to wheat, which contains gluten.
There is a larger subset of the population that experiences non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It is important to realize the difference here between food allergies and food sensitivities. A food allergy will typically show adverse effects within seconds or minutes of ingesting the allergen. A food sensitivity typically causes much milder effects that are much subtler. You might simply feel better in general if you cut a food that you are sensitive to out of your diet.
Do People Feel Better When They Stop Eating Gluten?
Those who really do have celiac disease benefit greatly by avoiding gluten. If someone with this condition eats products with gluten, damaged can be caused to the small intestine. Not only does this stop the body from being able to absorb important nutrients, but it can also cause aches, pains, diarrhea, and other serious side effects.
What about those who are simply sensitive to gluten? In some cases, these sensitivities may cause the body to have an inflammatory reaction to the gluten. This would understandably have adverse effects on the way that you feel.
Some proponents of the gluten-free diet claim that this diet plan has many additional benefits for anyone who tries it, gluten sensitivity or not. Some of these alleged benefits are increased energy, better sleep, improved skin health, and reduced pain in the body. There is little scientific evidence available to prove that these claims are true.
Does a Gluten-Free Diet Have Risks?
Transitioning to a gluten-free diet can actually be a risky choice, if you do not have the guidance and support of a skilled nutritionist. Gluten is found in products such as wheat, barley and rye. It is found in many whole grain foods that are very beneficial to include within your diet.
If these healthy, whole grain foods are cut completely out of your diet, without any suitable substitutions taking their place, you could be depriving your body of many necessary nutrients. Gluten itself may not have any nutritional benefits, but it is often found in foods that do support a healthy diet.
If You Want To Try To Quit Gluten
It is completely understandable if you want to give this diet a try that is garnering so much attention and praise. If you do decide to stop eating gluten, however, enlist the help of a nutritionist or dietitian. They can help you plan well balanced meals that do not include gluten, but they do include all of the nutrients you need to stay healthy.