Should You Go Gluten-Free?
The gluten-free diet was originally designed for people affected by gluten-related ailments. By eliminating gluten, a nutritional protein, it is an extremely effective remedy. Patients with celiac disease and other gluten-intolerances have praised the diet for the almost immediate relief of their symptoms.
This success has many people wondering if they could see benefits from it as well. Unfortunately, there are quite a few myths and misinformation surrounding the diet. This makes it more difficult to know if it’s right for you.
To help clear things up, we will explore the main reasons why you should go gluten-free, as well as some reasons why it might not be the best option for you. Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or are just curious about the details, this article will help.
Why Go Gluten-Free?
To avoid the long-term effects of celiac disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine when gluten is ingested. This damages the intestinal cells and prevents the body from absorbing important nutrients.
This can result in long-term health issues like osteoporosis and heart disease. It can also lead to the appearance of other autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis. A gluten-free diet is basically the only treatment for celiac disease, and can prevent these conditions from occurring.
To manage the effects of gluten sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity can cause abdominal distress, headaches, and mental fatigue. These are some serious side-effects from simply ingesting gluten. The inconvenience of this ailment can have a serious impact on one’s personal and work life. These symptoms can adversely effect social outings, outdoor activities and important work events.
The chronic diarrhea from gluten sensitivity can also cause dangerous dehydration. Like with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet can resolve these issues.
Easier now than ever
The popularity of the gluten-free diet has made it more accessible than ever. In the past, grocery shopping was a big challenge for gluten-free dieters. Now, a variety of gluten-free options are available in most grocery stores. Gluten-free grains like quinoa and millet are also easier to find.
This popularity has also made it simple to find gluten-free recipes online to make at home. Dining out is easier too, as most restaurants offer gluten-free options.
Why a Gluten-Free Diet Might Not Be For You
Risk of nutritional deficiency
The GF diet can make it challenging to consume the amount of vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Most gluten-free options at the grocery store lack essential vitamins like Vitamin D and B12. The GF diet also excludes carbohydrates fortified with whole grains, an important factor in heart health. Without careful monitoring, research shows that this can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
You will likely have to implement a nutritional supplement regimen as well. Because of the higher deficiency risk, it’s important to pay close attention to your vitamin levels.
It can be inconvenient
The gluten-free diet can have a bigger impact on your daily life than you might think. Trace amounts of gluten can be found in unexpected places like soy sauce, salad dressings and spice mixes. Close monitoring of your food, beyond basic nutrition labels, can be a time-consuming process. Choosing between meticulous planning or relying on expensive gluten-free alternatives can be a major inconvenience.
It can cause weight gain
By eliminating whole wheat, the GF diet removes a major source of fiber. Fiber helps us feel full, and thus eat less. If you don’t find other ways to replace that fiber, it takes longer for our bodies to get that “full” signal. The resulting overeating can lead to weight gain.
The fact that many gluten-free foods are highly processed, compounds the effects of this overeating. To add texture and improve taste many GF foods use higher amounts of sugar and fat.
Based on the facts, it seems clear that if you aren’t suffering from celiac disease or a serious gluten sensitivity, there may be no reason for you to adopt a gluten-free diet. It may do you more harm than good.
With no reason to avoid gluten, you might want to instead consider a well-balanced diet that includes whole grains and complex carbohydrates. This type of diet would reduce the health risks of going gluten-free, and be less difficult to manage. Studies show that the most effective diets are the one’s that are easier to consistently follow on a daily basis.
If you have symptoms that you think might be caused by ingesting gluten, it’s important that you do not simply adopt a gluten-free diet. An elimination diet like this should only be done under the advice and/or supervision of a professional dietician or doctor.
Thank you for reading! Knowledge is power, and learning is key to living a better life.
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