A few years ago, there wasn’t much to be excited about in the world of gluten-free food. Yet today, the market is booming and gluten-free foods are everywhere you turn.
This is because more people than ever are becoming interested in eating a gluten-free diet for non-medical reasons. Interestingly, younger adults are more likely to be interested in trying a g-free diet than older adults.
Many people who have gastrointestinal issues are turning to gluten-free food to improve their symptoms. However, it’s important to be aware that not all foods labeled as gluten-free are healthy.
For instance, many processed gluten-free foods are high in calories, fat and sodium. Choosing whole-grain alternatives will ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need while sticking to your diet plan.
If you’re following a gluten-free diet (GFD) for celiac disease, make sure your GFD is higher in whole grains than it is in refined carbohydrates, suggests Amy Thompson, RDN, CDE, author of The Nutrition Guide to Celiac Disease. This will help prevent your body from becoming deficient in key vitamins and minerals, including calcium.
Another nutrient that you’ll want to make sure to include in your diet is iron, since this mineral can be hard to get from eating a gluten-free diet, says Rajagopal. Adding iron-rich foods to your diet, such as beef, poultry, spinach and lentils, will boost your levels of this essential mineral.
Lastly, making sure you are getting enough calcium is critical for bone health and wellness. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious gluten-free options that are packed with this crucial nutrient.
A gluten-free diet is also good for those with autoimmune disorders or chronic inflammation. It can decrease unwanted inflammation in the body, which can reduce pain and stiffness in joints like the knees and wrists.
There are a number of other conditions that can benefit from eliminating gluten from the diet, too. These include irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia, as well as some cancers.
The best way to start a gluten-free diet is to talk to your doctor and get tested for celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or other health conditions. If you have any of these, it will be helpful to consult a dietitian to create a customized diet plan that works for your specific needs.
A gluten-free diet can also help those who are overweight or obese, and may even lead to weight loss. This is because a gluten-free diet can decrease your consumption of processed foods that contain a lot of unhealthy fats and sugars, which can be the main cause of weight gain.
If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eliminating gluten can reduce inflammation and symptoms. But it also has many other benefits, including weight loss.
A diet that excludes all foods containing wheat, barley, rye and triticale is known as gluten-free. It’s essential for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, but it can also be helpful for those with autoimmune conditions, such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
However, a gluten-free diet can cause some unwanted side effects, including weight gain and nutrient deficiencies. For example, it can limit your intake of iron-rich foods, which are important for maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system.
It can also increase your risk of heart disease, due to the lack of whole grains in your diet. It can also be harder to maintain a diet high in fiber, which helps control blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
In addition, some foods on a gluten-free diet may be higher in calories than their conventional counterparts. For example, a gluten-free cookie might contain 60 calories more than a regular sandwich cookie.
Some of the best foods to eat on a gluten-free diet are fruits and vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish and dairy products. Be sure to check labels for any ingredients that might contain gluten, such as flours and starches.
Other items to be aware of are cold cuts, processed meats and deli cheeses, which might have gluten added. It’s also possible that some veggie burgers and other meat substitutes have gluten added in as filler or flavoring.
Those who have no medical reason to eat gluten-free should still avoid it, as it can cause a number of problems, including diarrhea and abdominal pain. It can also contribute to nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium, iron and zinc.
The most common problem with a gluten-free diet is that it can cause you to eat more food than usual, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should stick to a balanced, nutritious diet that meets your health and calorie needs.
Easier Digestive System
Many people suffer from digestion issues, especially when they eat foods that are difficult to digest. This can lead to fatigue, bloating and cramping. Fortunately, many gluten-free foods are easy to digest and can help improve your health.
The key is to find products that are naturally gluten-free and avoid processed foods that contain added wheat, barley and rye ingredients. These foods are hard to digest, lower in nutrients and can be more harmful for your digestive tract microbiome than naturally-occurring gluten-free options.
A gluten-free diet can also boost your immune system and increase your energy levels. It can also reduce inflammation, which can help you recover from illness or injury.
Another advantage of a gluten-free diet is that it can prevent you from developing an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are often associated with a leaky gut, which can lead to the leaking of protein, toxins, and gluten from your small intestine into your bloodstream. Once you have this condition, it can cause a snowball effect that leads to other autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s Syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have a leaky gut, it can be difficult to absorb essential nutrients like calcium and iron. This can cause a wide range of health problems, including a weak immune system and poor bone health. Luckily, by removing gluten from your diet, you can ensure you get all the minerals and vitamins you need for a healthy body.
There are several reasons why this is so. Firstly, the damage from celiac disease can destroy your small intestine lining, reducing the amount of room for absorbing vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.
Secondly, the protein from wheat and other grains can trigger an autoimmune response that affects your intestinal cells. This reaction can irritate the lining of your intestine, which can lead to long-term issues with your digestive system and many unpleasant symptoms.
Thirdly, by avoiding gluten-containing foods, you can decrease the number of infections that you catch from other people. For example, it can help you avoid the flu, colds, and sore throats that are common in the winter months.
Better Immune System
Why is gluten-free food becoming so popular? It’s simple: a diet free of gluten can help you boost your immune system.
The most obvious benefit of going gluten free is that it eliminates the risk of developing autoimmune diseases like celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. These conditions are known to cause inflammation, which can lead to a variety of unpleasant symptoms such as fatigue and digestive problems.
There are many ways to achieve this, but the simplest is to avoid foods that contain gluten. It’s important to choose whole, unprocessed ingredients to ensure a safe and effective gluten-free diet.
You can easily identify which foods are safe for you by checking the ingredient list. It’s also worth noting that certain additives, particularly malt flavouring and modified food starch, can contain gluten.
A well-designed gluten-free menu should include a range of whole foods and eats from different cuisines to keep you feeling full and satisfied. A dietitian can also assist with identifying a range of suitable gluten-free recipes.
While there are many benefits to a gluten-free diet, some people may find it difficult to get used to it at first. Fortunately, many mainstream grocery stores now carry a wide range of gluten-free foods, and you’re likely to be able to find a number of tasty options. The key to success is being prepared, aware of what you’re consuming and having a good supply of easy-to-make gluten-free meals on hand. With a little bit of effort, you can reap all the health benefits that a gluten-free diet has to offer.