Should You Go Gluten-Free?

Nowadays gluten-free foods are easily accessible both in supermarkets and restaurants. The development of gluten-free products as well as the publicity of this diet is at an all-time high. Could this be just another diet craze or is this the missing link to achieving good health and weight loss? Like most things, the answer isn't in black and white. There are those who must follow a gluten-free diet and others who do not.

Gluten: Proteins found in certain grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It contributes to the structure, flavor, and texture of baked products. 

Who needs to maintain a life-long commitment to a gluten-free diet?

Anyone with celiacs disease. This is an autoimmune disease in which an individuals immune system responds to gluten in a way that is damaging to the small intestine. Consuming gluten can result in malabsorption and with prolonged consumption can lead to other complications.

Since millions of people suffer with celiacs, it is a wonderful thing to see such a proliferation of products.   There are also many products that are innately gluten-free.

Taken from FDA.gov

Could everyone benefit from eating foods without the gluten?

Not exactly. If your body can tolerate the gluten then this means that it is not harmful to your small intestine and you are not at risk of developing problems like those with celiacs disease. Just because something is gluten-free does not mean that it is lower in calories, sugar, or sodium. As a matter of fact, it can actually deprive you of nutrients naturally found in the food. Most gluten-free foods are not fortified or enriched with B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, iron, or vitamin D. This is a factor that people with celiacs disease need to be mindful of and make sure that they get these nutrients from other foods. 

What about weight loss?

Initially, one can experience weight loss simply because they are cutting down on their consumption of baked goods. Yet those who do an even swap of a regular muffin with a gluten-free muffin will not experience weight loss. Rather, one can experience weight-gain. Gluten-free items are typically low in fiber and they do not offer fewer calories. Also, since many think that this is a lifestyle that will result in weight loss might start eating more of these gluten-free products leading to a higher caloric intake. 

Of course, it is possible to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle in a way that does not lead to weight gain or nutrient depletion. But this will take effort. Not to mention that most gluten-free products are pricier so be prepared to spend some more at the supermarket. 

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