MONTH 2 – Article
Last Reviewed: 22/11/2022
Time To Read: 3mins
Is it healthy or healthier?
Gluten is found in foods such as bread, pasta, pizza and cereal and is a type of protein that provides no essential nutrients.
Who should avoid Gluten?
People who have a diagnosed condition, such as celiac disease, should avoid gluten, and those who have had clinical tests that demonstrate a wheat allergy may benefit from avoiding gluten.
For everyone else, unfortunately there is no strong evidence to show that a gluten-free diet will improve health.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss and poor appetite
- Bloating or feeling full
- An itchy rash
- Growth delay (in children)
If you have any of these symptoms you should speak with your healthcare professional.
Possible risks of a gluten-free diet
Often gluten-free foods are less fortified with important nutrients like folic acid and iron. Gluten-free foods also may have less fiber and more sugar and fat that a comparable non gluten-free product. Don’t assume a gluten-free diet is healthy or healthier than a regular diet. A manufacturer is still going to have to add ‘something’ to that gluten-free food to make it tasty and make you want to eat it.
Thank about why you are eating gluten-free. If you choose to go gluten-free because you think it will help you lose weight, really think about the foods you are actually removing from your diet and whether they are what helped you with weight loss. For example, if you cut cookies, cakes, pastries and bread, that might just mean that you are now eating a low carbohydrate diet (which by the way is not good for you – think about joining us @ The Food Cruncher to understand why). Gluten-free and low carbohydrate diets are not the same thing.
The bottom line
Deciding to become ‘gluten-free’ can be unnecessary and expensive. Often gluten free products are more costly than regular products. In addition, some gluten-free foods may actually be less nutritious for you, especially if they are not fortified. Make sure you read the food label if you are going to choose a gluten-free option. It may be a highly processed option and as far away from a whole food as you can get. It is possible that your gluten-free food may have more calories, fat, sugar and far less nutrition than other foods that do contain gluten.
Try not to be swayed by smart marketing. The bottom line is only clinical tests can determine if you truly are gluten sensitive. Otherwise, save your money.
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Thanks for reading.
The team @ The Food Cruncher.
Staudacher MA & Gibson PR (2015). How healthy is a gluten-free diet? British Journal of Nutrition, 114, 1539-1541.
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