You will have seen “gluten free” on everything from pasta to protein powder, but what are the benefits of a gluten free diet, and why has the popularity of it exploded lately?
And what’s so bad about gluten anyway?
What is it?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and wheat based foods, like pasta or bread. You might need to avoid gluten because of a medical condition, or because of a sensitivity to gluten.
Some people have irritated bowels, or even coeliac disease which means that they’ll be very sick if they come into contact with gluten, so a gluten free diet is important to them.
Keep in mind that gluten is different from Glutamine.
How does it work?
Some people have had great success when cutting down on gluten in their diets. They report feeling less bloated, more energetic and generally “lighter”.
Keep in mind though, that by cutting out gluten you might be eating fewer carbohydrates, which will make you feel like this anyway.
If you’re experiencing some mild discomfort, it’s usually best to try to exercise a little more and see if it improves. If not, you may need to see a doctor and have tests for allergies, or to establish just how intolerant to gluten you are.
It doesn’t have to mean you miss out on carbohydrates though, Brown rice, whole corn, gluten-free oats, millet, sorghum, wild rice, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa are all good alternatives, and most are widely available.
Things to look out for, besides the obvious wheat based products are things that may not be so easily spotted.
Some things to look out for on food labels include:
- modified food starch
- textured vegetable protein
- caramel color
- soy sauce
Who is it best for?
If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable when you eat gluten in regular amounts, it might be worth trying a gluten free diet. If you have a full blown allergy, it’s massively important that you follow it very carefully.
What are the side effects?
By cutting gluten out, you might be removing a lot of good complex carbohydrates, unless you substitute it with other grains. Try to make sure you get a balanced diet and swap out the wheat for other, safer, alternatives.
Is gluten bad for women too?
Lots of women follow a gluten free diet, with several celebrities endorsing it. Keep in mind though, you should always listen to your body, while a movie star might be on the front of a magazine saying they got their bikini body in five weeks, thanks to skipping out on wheat, they might not be telling you that they had seven personal trainers, eight dieticians, six personal chefs and a company with a billion dollars invested in making them look good.
That doesn’t mean that a gluten free diet might not work for you, but just make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
So going gluten free can be fairly simple these days. Just switching out wheat for other grains and planning ahead will keep you (and your digestive system) happy and healthy.