By Myprotein Writer |
Gluten is a protein compound which is found in wheat and grains such as barley and rye. Gluten is present in a large range of food products including dough, whereby it offers a series of functional properties. To be gluten-free means to consume a diet free from the protein gluten, meaning avoiding foods such as bread and pasta.
A gluten-free diet is often adopted by people who have difficulty digesting gluten, such as those with wheat intolerances or allergies. Wheat is such a prominent ingredient in the western diet and is one of the most heavily consumed proteins- making it extremely hard to remove from your diet, however, choosing to go gluten-free can offer a series of benefits.
Should you go Gluten-Free?
When it comes to going gluten-free you should ask yourself the question- do I NEED to go gluten-free? People with celiac disease will most certainly benefit from this diet. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder where the body reacts adversely to gluten, causing stomach upset, bloating and weight gain.
It is estimated that more than 2.5 million people have celiac disease, most people are left undiagnosed as they are asymptomatic for years, whereby many symptoms can be confused with other medical problems.
If you think you have celiac disease some common symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, anemia and fatigue. If you think you may have a problem it is best to see a doctor before completely removing gluten from your diet.
What are the Benefits of Gluten Free?
When it comes to the benefits of going gluten-free you need to make sure this diet is 100% necessary for you.
For example, people with celiac disease will most certainly benefit from this diet and if you have gluten intolerances, eradicating it from your diet will offer relief from adverse symptoms, whilst giving you more energy and fewer GI complaints!
For example, in a study by Mustalahti et al. (2002) the quality of life of a gluten-free diet on those with screen-detected celiac disease was examined before and one year after adopting a gluten-free diet. At baseline the quality of life of patients with both symptom and screen detected celiac disease was recorded whereby patients who showed symptoms of celiac disease had a poor quality of life with gastrointestinal symptoms.
✓ After one year of following a gluten-free diet gastrointestinal symptoms improved and overall it was concluded that a gluten-free diet could improve the quality of life of those with both screen detected and symptom diagnosed celiac disease.
Venturing out to restaurants can be daunting when following a gluten free diet, it would be advisable to ring ahead and see if they offer a gluten free menu or alternatives.
Always tell your server that you don’t want gluten or have allergies, they will be used to it and should be happy to help.
A good start would be to focus on eating whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish and lean meat (all devoid of gluten) is a good way to keep your diet healthy and gluten free.
Beware of Hidden Gluten
Eating packaged food can be tricky whereby gluten can be masquerading as other ingredients, however most shops now have a section dedicated to gluten free.
Gluten Free Foods
Going gluten free will mean cutting out some foods from your diet but there are still plenty of other gluten free alternatives for foods such as cereals and baked goods, as well as plenty of fresh foods that can replace gluten filled foods.
A Take Home Message
People with wheat allergies, gluten intolerances or celiac disease are the people who will benefit the most from removing gluten from their diet.
However, if you have no trouble tolerating gluten its important to remember that removing a whole nutrient from your diet will not make you lose weight or get in shape any quicker than a healthy balanced diet and exercise.