Whether you eat it or not, gluten free diets have been trending a lot lately. This trend has a lot of our patients asking “what is gluten?” and “should I be eating it?”. Despite being popular, we find that many patients don’t actually know much about gluten. For this week’s articles we decided to dive into the topic.
What Is Gluten?
Simply put, gluten is a combination of two proteins found primarily in wheat and related grains, like barley and rye. The two proteins, gliadin and glutenin, combine to make gluten.
These proteins help nourish the plant embryos, also give us the chewy goodness in our foods. It makes dough stretchy and gives bread its sponge like properties.
Why Is Gluten So Bad Then???
It’s actually not. It’s neither detrimental or essential for your health. There is very little evidence that suggests that cutting it out is the healthier choice for the average person.
Some people experiencing a chronic digestive disorder, like celiac disease, are not able to eat gluten at all. This is where confusion can sometimes stem from. If gluten is consumed by someone who has celiacs disease, their body views gluten as a foreign body. This causes the immune system to attack the gluten, which ends up damaging the small intestine. Too much of this and their bodies start to suffer major nutritional deficiencies.
Scientists have discovered recently that a small portion of the population has gluten sensitivity. This means that they suffer similar symptoms like cramps, diarrhea and bloating. In both of these cases gluten free options are essential.
If you don’t suffer from either, though, there isn’t much weight to gluten free diets. It’s not a toxin and, just because it’s gluten free, does not suggest that its healthy, natural or lower in calories.
Gluten Free Diet
There are some effects from cutting gluten out of your diet. While the lack of gluten is of no concern, the vitamins in whole grains that it’s combined with are important. Without supplementing these vitamins you could be damaging your own health.
The popularity of gluten free diets have created a market for these foods. There is a wider range of products now available, which is very beneficial for those people who actually need it. For those who don’t, be cautious for companies substituting sugars and fats in place of gluten.
Have you, or anyone you know, skipped out on gluten as a “diet” plan? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!