Gluten free – it’s a common diet-related phrase that’s been unavoidable the last few years. But what exactly does it mean?
For some people it’s a choice whereas others, who suffer from celiac disease, have less of an option.
Celiac disease means your immune system rejects and reacts to any products with traces of gluten. When a person suffers from celiac disease and consumes gluten-laden foods, it will eventually result in the gut lining becoming damaged.
The only way to avoid such discomfort is by consuming a gluten free diet. It sounds distressing, but unlike other diets, you can still enjoy delicious foods such as fresh fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, rice, and lentils.
And for those of you who can’t bear to live without a slice of toast in the morning or a bowl of Italian inspired pasta, most big stores sell gluten-free bread and pasta.
It’s obvious as to why those people with celiac disease choose to eat gluten-free foods, but why are so many others jumping on the bandwagon as well?
What is it about a gluten-free lifestyle that’s attracting people to this elimination diet?
Why Eat Gluten Free?
A human can’t completely digest wheat. This means there’s also a lot of undigested wheat in your stomach. In a nutshell, the undigested portions begin to ferment, so when you think about this it’s no wonder that wheat is used to produce one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world – beer! The result of the fermentation process in your body is however less pleasant. Too much wheat causes a buildup of nasty bodily gases that can be highly uncomfortable.
Wheat is also a pro-inflammatory product. This means that it quickly converts to sugar, increasing insulin levels and causing inflammation. Weight gain and wheat products go hand in hand; so cutting them out can aid in healthy weight loss.
What’s more, some medical professionals believe that eliminating gluten from the diet actually reduces the body’s craving for food and sugars. In this case, it’s completely viable that weight loss is possible with a gluten-free diet, but again you need to become more aware. To remain on top of this and maintain a healthy weight loss after going gluten free, count your calories and learn more about the foods you’re eating.
However, it must be noted that going gluten free doesn’t guarantee weight loss. You need to make conscious choices and become more aware of what your food contains. There are a number of processed gluten-free products that actually contain more calories than the original, such as gluten-free cake mixes and pizza dough.
Leaky gut syndrome is also another reason why people choose to turn their backs on gluten. Wheat wears down the stomach’s lining, causing tiny holes everywhere, resulting in toxins and harmful bacteria to leak and travel into your bloodstream. If left untreated, leaky gut syndrome can potentially be life threatening.
Those who are more motivated by a healthy nutritional diet will also argue that refined wheat has little to no nutritional value. So why eat gluten? When wheat’s refined, it’s stripped of its very few nutritional properties it previously had.
There are so many allergens that exist today, and wheat falls into the top eight category. In fact there are so many people out there who’re actually sensitive to it that don’t even know it. Reports state that about 1 in 100 people suffer from celiac disease and approximately 70% of the population has some sort of gluten intolerance!
Become Gluten Free Today
So, you’ve read about going gluten free and you’d like to try it. That’s great. But like all things that require change, it’s going to take some time to adjust to your new gluten-free lifestyle.
Doctors recommend people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease stop eating gluten immediately. For those of you who decide to go gluten free for other health or nutritional reasons, you can gradually wean yourself off wheat products, cutting back more and more on a daily basis.
While beer, ales and barley juices might be out of the question, there are more drinks available that don’t actually contain any type of gluten. These include fruit juices, flavored water, and wine. While wine is a better alcoholic option than beer, you still should drink it in moderation, as alcohol contains empty calories. It’s all about making those conscious choices!
Learn to Read Labels
Your new gluten-free diet will make you more conscious of what you’re putting in your mouth. There are a number of products and foods that have hidden traces of gluten, products you wouldn’t even think about such as ketchup.
You need to learn how to determine which items really are gluten free and which aren’t. When the label mentions wheat, barley, rye, brewer’s yeast, malt or oats, you’ll know immediately that the food item in question contains gluten. But on the other hand it might be more hidden in terms such as modified food starch.
Eating out can be a bit more of a hassle, especially in the beginning. However, you don’t have to let a restricted diet prevent you from eating out with friends and family. Life is about enjoyment, which means socializing and entertaining.
If you really want to be sure, do some Internet research on restaurants in your area that offer a range of gluten-free options. Today, a number of more well-known and established restaurants have been certified by CSA (Celiac Support Association). These restaurants are listed on the official CSA website.
You also need to let your server know about your dietary requirements. They’ll be then able to pass the message on to the kitchen and also offer a few suggestions for meals that are gluten free.
The Down Low
Why go gluten free? A gluten-free life can subsequently improve your health. If you have celiac disease, you’ll notice the celiac disease symptoms disappear and if you don’t, you’ll notice more subtle changes such as clearer skin, less bloating and fewer digestive problems.
Could you go gluten free? Could you swap your daily panini for a salad or something else? It’s not as difficult as you might think. It just takes a little study, planning and getting into a routine, and then you’ll notice your life and health change for the better!