Is Gluten Bad For You? Facts about grains are Nuanced

Oh, the gluten-free diet is lauded. It creates compelling magazine covers, engaging podcast episodes, and a shared Thanksgiving virality. Today, you are either the gluten-free group or the gluten-free group. You are a regular gluten consumer or you are in doubt about it. Everyone has a stance. And — for better or for worse — there is little room for wobble. But what does science really say? Is Gluten Bad For You? The answer is nuanced. Unless you meet certain criteria, you maybe Eat your pizza and eat it, too. There is no convincing evidence that gluten is harmful to the health of the average person. Hallelujah. But to cover our facility, we’re debunking common gluten myths, sharing who really benefits from a g-free lifestyle, and more.

Featured image of Michelle Nash.

Gluten Free: The Outdated Diet of the Decade

Drop the old, with the new. Gone are the low-fat days of the ’80s. Gluten free isn’t it. Currently, it is one of the most popular dietary trends worldwide. Touted by celebrities for weight loss, athletes to improve performance, and “health” social media influencers, a gluten-free diet is almost inevitable. And dollars prove it. In 2019, the gluten-free products market size was valued at $4.3 billion and is estimated to reach $7.5 billion by 2027. There is no stopping it. Adding fuel to the fire, more than half of US adults think gluten-free foods are healthier (when in fact, they’re often more processed and contain more added sugars and inflammatory oils). ). But here’s the thing: the number of people who really need to avoid gluten, for medical reasons, is relatively small.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins. It is found in grains, including wheat, rye, barley, and barley. Wheat is – by far – the most common gluten-containing grain. Of its two main proteins, glutenin and gliadin, gliadin is responsible for conditions like gluten sensitivity, intolerance, and celiac disease. When flour mixes with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky web with a glue-like consistency. This glue-like property gives the dough its elasticity (which is how gluten gets its name!). Gluten makes the bread more likely to rise during baking and creates a chewy, satisfying texture. You’ll find gluten common in foods like bread, pasta, pizza, cereals, cookies, and cake mixes.

Gluten Sensitivity vs Intolerance

Often used interchangeably, gluten disorders — like being sensitive and having celiac disease — are quite different. Although some health conditions are associated with wheat and gluten, they are not the same. First and foremost, there is no such thing as a gluten allergy. You can have a wheat allergy, but not a gluten allergy. That said, some people experience non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you experience mild symptoms (caused by gluten) that resolve fairly quickly, you may be diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. On the other hand, someone who develops severe symptoms – lasting for longer periods of time – will likely be diagnosed with gluten intolerance. These are common gluten intolerance symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating or gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Anemia
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
  • Tired

People with gluten intolerance often find relief by following a gluten-free diet. We recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider if you believe you are sensitive or intolerant to gluten.

What is Celiac Disease?

Although gluten intolerance mimics symptoms similar to celiac disease, they are not the same condition. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. Over time, it will lead to damage to the digestive tract. In other words: people with celiac disease have an immune response when they eat gluten. They develop inflammation in the intestinal tract (and other parts of the body). Current estimates suggest that up to 1% of the population has celiac disease. Although there is no cure for celiac disease, following a strict gluten-free diet can help control symptoms and promote intestinal healing.

Who Should Avoid Gluten?

Completely avoiding gluten is paramount for people with celiac disease. For people with a wheat allergy, they should also avoid gluten. What about hormonal imbalances, like PCOS? Research is lacking. At the end of the day, you know your body best. If you don’t feel well consuming gluten, consider avoiding it (or limiting your consumption). Need a printed gluten-free recipe? We’ve got you covered:

Gluten Free Dinner Recipes Your whole family will love

Score a score of gluten-free macaroons.

Gluten-free bread recipes that taste like the real thing

Gluten has nothing on these loaves.

Gluten-free swap for all your favorite treats

Gluten free, no problem.

European Road

Notice that you can stomach European wheat well? You’re not alone. Most American wheat is hard red wheat, which is high in protein and, therefore, gluten. In Europe, most wheat is soft wheat. It is naturally lower in gluten. Going back to the gluten protein, European wheat is lower in gliadin and higher in glutenin (another component of gluten with little or no allergenic potential). Furthermore, a huge factor affecting the quality of European wheat is how it is grown and harvested. Chances are – with stricter regulations – European wheat is sprayed with less pesticides than American wheat.

Common Gluten Myths

Let’s set a straight record.

THEORY: Gluten is bad for you.

Gluten – in and of itself – is not bad for the vast majority of people. As mentioned, gluten is simply a protein. It occurs naturally in many plant-based foods. Gluten-containing ingredients have other nutrients that are important to your overall health (e.g., bread contains folate, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, etc.). By eliminating foods that contain gluten, you are also eliminating other nutrients. Organic gluten-free grains contain fiber, carbohydrates for energy, and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Choosing gluten products that are minimally processed and grown without pesticides like Roundup and glyphosate can be part of a healthy, nutritious diet.

THEORY: Gluten-free = carb-free.

No! Although gluten-free foods have carbs, that doesn’t automatically mean that all gluten-free foods are low-carb. In fact, there are many carbohydrate-rich foods on a gluten-free diet. For example, rice is gluten-free. Fruit, sugar, potatoes too, etc… Many gluten-free foods, especially packaged foods, still contain a moderate to high amount of carbohydrates. And often, they’re low in fiber. Means? They quickly raise blood sugar.

THEORY: Gluten-free foods are healthier.

Totally depends on what you are eating. Don’t let gluten-free food labels fool you. Just because a food is marked as gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthier than the food. In fact, a recent study has shown that gluten-free versions of foods often less than healthy and than expensive. For example, a gluten-free cereal may be more processed and made with more sugar than a cereal made with gluten. The opposite may also be true. There are many gluten-containing foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, essential nutrients, and fiber. For example, high-quality sourdough bread, sprouted bread, and 100% whole-wheat pasta.

THEORY: Eating gluten-free will help you lose weight.

Not too fast. There is no evidence to show that eliminating gluten, without making other dietary changes, leads to weight loss.

Fact: You can maintain a healthy body composition and achieve your health goals by eating gluten.

At the end of the day, the important thing to remember is how You eat just as much as — if not more! -more important What you eat. Unless you have a true gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, consider forgoing a g-free diet. Instead, make room for a more holistic and practical food approach.

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