Ditching the gluten in food has been a trend in recent years. Gluten-free diets hit the mainstream with a growing number of advocates. As a matter of fact, gluten-free products have invaded grocery shelves due to their widespread popularity.
With gluten-free fanatics such as Zooey Deschanel and Miley Cyrus, it’s tempting to jump into the No to Gluten bandwagon. But before you do, here are some questions you should ask:
1. What is gluten, anyway?
Some people go gluten free without even knowing what gluten really is. The International Food Information Council defines gluten as the special type of protein found in food products, such as wheat, cereals and grains. This protein keeps the elasticity of food intact during the fermentation stage of the production process. Gluten gives bread its chewy texture and keeps other food from having a doughy-like texture.
2. What are the benefits of going gluten-free?
Most people practice gluten-free diets because of their main advantage: weight loss. Religiously following this diet rids your day of processed foods and sweets, such as cookies and cupcakes. By eliminating your intake of these food types, you reduce your intake of fat and calories. According to holistic nutritionist Lisa Cantkier, using gluten-free flour also offers higher protein and fiber intake, balanced sugar levels, and longer lasting energy.
Improved digestion is another bonus point of bidding gluten goodbye. Followers of this diet suffer less from indigestion and have better bowel movements. Gluten-free diets also help you avoid the following: cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and upset stomachs. More reasons to say goodbye to that last scoop of ice cream, yes?
3. What are the disadvantages of ditching the gluten?
It’s not all good, however. An article from the University of Wisconsin-Madison lists down several risks of reducing gluten intake. Apart from fruits and vegetables, the most common sources of dietary fiber are whole-grain breads and cereals, which contain gluten. Avoiding grains also means that you’re eating fewer products rich in valuable nutrients, including iron, thiamine, calcium, riboflavin, folate and niacin. The UW also believes that going gluten-free decreases the amount of beneficial bacteria your body needs.
Another negative aspect of going gluten-free is the price—it’s more expensive than non-gluten free food products. If your pocket is up for it, then go ahead.
4. Is my body ready for such a drastic change in diet?
Gluten-free diets are highly recommended for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity because they need it. If you don’t suffer from any of these, consider your overall health before diving in. Consult your doctor or dietician before undergoing a gluten-free diet.
If you’ve weighed all your options, answered all the questions and it’s still a YES, then jump aboard the Gluten Free Express!