It’s almost impossible to miss the growth in the number and types of products in the supermarkets with claims of “gluten-free” on their packaging. “Gluten” has been portrayed as the villain that will lead to all sufferings, from weight gain to stomach pain and the list goes on. A gluten free diet has become a trend leading many to think that it’s the solution to their weight gain problems. But what is gluten and is it really the bad guy?
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, wheat and rye which usually make a wide variety of carbohydrate containing foods such as bread, pasta and even beer. In addition, gluten could be found in packaged products as a filler.
Celiac disease, The real Gluten intolerance disease
About 1% of the population suffer from what we call Celiac disease. Celiac disease, a gluten intolerance disease, is the inability of the intestines to absorb nutrients from foods that contain gluten. While nowadays many claim to have gluten intolerance, only 1 out 100 people truly suffer from this disease. The disease can be tested and diagnosed easily via your healthcare professional.
People with celiac depending on the severity of the disease suffer from digestive symptoms such as severe stomach pains, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, poor appetite and weightloss. Often times digestive issues lead to other symptoms such as anemia, fatigue, bone weakness, mouth ulcers and others related to malnutrition and a reduction in vitamins in the body. Anyone with celiac disease needs to indeed avoid gluten-containing products as this not only leads to bad quality of life but also poses a health risk on them.
Everything you need to know about gluten sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity is another form of mild condition that could affect some of people who eat gluten containing products. It should not be mistaken with gluten intolerance. This could be evident as mild bloating, occasional stomach pain and even a rash when they eat gluten containing food and specifically wheat products.
This is rare and is usually diagnosed by process of diet elimination. The only way to discover this is by eliminating gluten containing foods for a period of time and recording a diary of how they feel. This condition is not common but if confirmed one who suffer from this would certainly benefit from avoiding gluten. Needless to say, according to a recently published study, about 90% of those thinking they have gluten sensitivities were wrong about the “diagnosis”.
Example of a day of a gluten elimination diet:
2 Eggs with 2 rice cakes plus 1 tomato
One grilled chicken breast with a side of quinoa and mixed green salad
200 grams salmon with a side of mashed sweet potato and broccoli
Gluten-free Diet misconceptions
Nowadays about 30% of the population choose to follow a gluten free diet but are unaware that sometimes it is in fact counterproductive. While some think they are gluten sensitive, others associate gluten with carbs and avoid it because they believe it is the culprit behind their stubborn weight loss efforts. They stock up on gluten free packaged products and even eat them adlib without taking into consideration the ingredients or caloric content. Here are few reasons why gluten-free products and a gluten free diet are not necessarily healthier for those who don’t need to avoid it:
- Weight gain: gluten free products are stripped from the protein gluten. This forces manufacturer to substitute the gluten with additives, sugars, fats to enhance the flavoring. This process not only degrades the quality of the food but also add unnecessary calories!
- Vitamin and minerals deficiencies: it has been shown that gluten-free dieter do not consume adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc -found in gluten containing products.
- Expensive: marketed gluten-free products and even products that claim to be gluten free by being labeled that way (although they naturally do not contain gluten) are more expensive than others. The food industry is benefitting from this big hype and therefore increasing prices. Don’t be fooled!
While a gluten-free diet is crucial for the health of celiac disease patients and could benefit those with a proven sensitivity, it is absolutely counterproductive for others.
A gluten free diet is not superior to a healthy wholesome diet and it will not improve your quality of life. In addition, gluten-free diet does not mean lower calories and therefore it is not a method for weight loss. In all cases, all processed products stripped from gluten should be avoided, even in intolerant individuals. It would be healthier for those who can not eat gluten to visit somewhere that specializes in creating nutritious, but gluten-free food, like the best gluten free bakery boulder has to offer, for example. A nutrient dense diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains ( depending on tolerance ) is the way to go no matter what you decide. Such healthy diet will mitigate any deficiencies, keep your weight in check and indeed provides you with a healthier and better quality of life.
Healthy gluten free recipes ideas
Naturally Gluten-free banana pancakes
- 1 scoop vegan ( or any ) vanilla protein powder
- 2 egg whites and 1 full egg
- cup of any milk
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 small spoon baking powder
- 30 grams gluten-free oats
For the topping:
- cup berries
- 1 spoon all natural no added sugar peanut butter
Mix all ingredients while you heat a pan after spraying with cooking spray. Place circle on the pan on low to medium heat for 1 minute. As soon as it bubbles, flip and leave for another 2 minutes. Top with berries and peanut butter. Should make about 4 medium sized pancakes.
Almond Chicken Salad (serves 1)
- chicken breast ( roasted ahead of time or pan cooked with oregano, salt and pepper)
- almonds slivered
- 1 cup of lettuce chopped medium pieces
- 6-7 grapes cut in halves
- big spoons of small diced celery
For the dressing:
- 1 big spoon of fat free Greek yogurt
- 1 small spoon of honey
- 1 spoon of yellow mustard
- Salt and pepper to your liking