Published on June 24th, 2013 | by Joe Starks0
Know Your Substances: Gluten
Gluten is a composite of proteins found in many foods, especially those made with grains. It is the stuff that makes dough elastic and part of what makes bread have such a pleasant texture. Most of us won’t see a big difference if we eat gluten free or a gluten rich meal, except perhaps in texture. This is not true for everyone though.
Up to one percent of the human population suffers from a very painful disease called celiac disease. These people have immense bowel pains when they eat gluten, because it destroys the lining of the intestine. This disease is actually a deficiency of those people to process gluten like most humans do. People in recent years have seen a chance to scare healthy people with gluten, as if it caused the same problems to healthy individuals as it does to those who suffer from celliacs.
This is why the trend for all people to eat gluten free begun. People say that our new way of eating has caused many of our common health problems these days and that gluten is one of the more important factors in those problems. Truth is that eating too much bread, pasta and cakes isn’t good for us, but not just because of gluten. Eating a lot of grain can make you fat; that is the main problem. Gluten is just one of the many energy containing substances within cereals, so it can’t be blamed above all others.
On the contrary, doctors say that cutting gluten from your diet can potentially cause harm to your health and will offer nothing good in exchange.
It is like lactose intolerance: cutting down milk because some can’t digest it will probably just harm you not help you, because you simply don’t have that problem and milk is nutritious. Cereals contain many important nutrients like fiber, iron, vitamin B12, niacin, folate, calcium and thiamine. Losing all those nutrients to avoid something that doesn’t hurt you can be quite a bad deal.
People who do suffer from celiac disease are a whole other issue. Those who are so sensitive to this substance need to avoid it completely and adopt diets that include little to no gluten at all. There are plenty of delicious choices to supplement your diet if you need to avoid food groups for your health. Potatoes, Corn, soy, beans, tapioca and millet are quite common foods that can easily substitute their gluten laden relatives like wheat. Oats are also a good choice as long as they haven’t been processed in the same place as wheat products.
Gluten can be found in many foods where you would not expect them, so living gluten free can be very hard. Many sauces include gluten and plenty of cured meats have gluten in them. Processed food like stock cubes and ready soups often contain a fair amount of gluten, because it is cheap to add wheat flour as a thickening agent. Most snacks are also a no, no. Cookies, chocolates, chips etc all contain too much gluten for a celiac sufferer.
Following a gluten free diet can actually result in weight loss. That of course is not due to the gluten, but because of the consumption of less high energy foods like cookies and crisps. Of course cutting down on bread can help you lose weight, but if you exchange gluten bread with gluten free bread you might be in for a nasty nutritional surprise.
Processed foods that mimic gluten laden products like bread often contain more fat and sodium than their original counterparts. This can cause weight gain instead of weight loss. The refining of the flours to remove gluten also causes it to lose many of its nutrients, turning it into empty calories. So be careful if your doctor tells you that you need to eat less gluten, go for natural gluten free options instead of processed foods to avoid extra calories. You might also lose all the good things gluten products offered you.
If you suffer from celiac disease, gluten can be a painful thing for you and should be avoided at all costs. There are plenty of natural gluten free choices that can offer you just as much taste without the pain afterwards. Preferring the natural over the processed will both make sure you don’t eat gluten, but you will also avoid deficiencies and high calorie products.
If on the other hand you belong to the 99% that are healthy, you should think again before cutting gluten products out of your diet. It is a process celiac sufferers need, not want, and it can be quite hard and hazardous. It is best not to lose the good things gluten products offer you in terms of nutrients. Cutting back just a bit when it comes to starchy products in general is perhaps a better idea if you have weight problems.