Road to a Gluten-Free Diet: Is Gluten Really Bad for the Health?

Road to a Gluten-Free Diet: Is Gluten Bad for Your Health?

Many foods naturally contain gluten. But as the gluten-free diet (GFD) becomes mainstream, more and more people are trying it. Celebrities swear it has improved their health, and food businesses try to give gluten-free options to customers who want to avoid it. 

But is gluten really bad for your health? If you want to know, dive deeper into this article to gain a deeper understanding of gluten.

Understanding What Gluten Really Is

Gluten is a type of protein, and barley and wheat are well-known gluten sources. It gives bread its chewy texture and helps it to rise. Aside from barley and wheat, you can find gluten in processed foods, like sauces and gravies.

Gliadin, a component of gluten, is what causes problems for people with coeliac disease. When they consume gluten, their immune system destroys the lining of their small intestine. It can then result in serious health issues like digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, osteoporosis and even cancer. 

If you are gluten-sensitive, you need to avoid all sources of gluten. Even trace amounts can be harmful, so you must check food labels carefully and avoid processed foods as much as possible.

For people without the disease, gluten may still be harmful. Numerous studies have linked gluten to different health issues such as inflammation, obesity and mood disorders.

Checking the ‘Gluten-Free’ Label

If you’re considering going gluten-free, make sure to do research first. A food product with a ‘gluten-free’ label means that it does not contain any gluten-rich grains.

Gluten-free products are best for people with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity and intolerance. Nevertheless, some people still choose to purchase gluten-free products due to various factors. Some do it for health reasons, while others simply prefer the taste of gluten-free products.

You can approach GFD in many ways, but not all of them are healthy. Some can lead to nutrient deficiencies if you are not careful. Consult a healthcare provider or a registered dietician before undertaking any immediate alterations to your diet.

The Health Benefits of Gluten

Gluten may cause many health problems to gluten-sensitive people, but it still has numerous benefits for those who can tolerate it. But of course, it has to be a part of a moderate and healthy diet.

Studies have shown that gluten can help to improve gut health. Moreover, here are the other benefits of gluten:

  1. Protection from exposure to toxic heavy metals. Patients with coeliac disease have higher exposure to toxic metals than those who don’t avoid gluten. That’s because gluten-free diets commonly include fish and rice, which have high concentrations of toxic metals like arsenic and lead. 
  2. Lower risk of developing diseases. According to several high-profile studies, gluten-rich cereals and grains can prevent certain diseases. Gluten-rich foods are also rich in fibre, and consuming them lowers the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and colorectal cancer.
  3. Reduced calorie intake. A European study found that gluten-free foods have more saturated fats, sugar, protein and calories compared to their gluten-containing counterparts.

GFD has its benefits, such as better digestion, lower inflammation and weight loss. However, it's essential to remember that not everyone needs to be on this diet. If you don't have gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease, you may not experience the health benefits of going gluten-free. So again, consult a registered dietician before altering your meal plan.

Who Else Should Avoid Gluten?

Aside from patients with coeliac disease, people with the below conditions should avoid gluten.

  • Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Gluten consumption can cause symptoms related to coeliac disease, such as abdominal pain, headache, constipation, foggy brain and rashes. Though gluten won’t damage the small intestine in this case, it’s still risky.
  • Wheat allergy. The immune system can mistake gluten for wheat, causing it to produce an antibody to protect the body from the protein. People with this kind of allergy can encounter breathing difficulties and congestion.
  • Gluten ataxia. It is an autoimmune disease affecting certain nerve tissues. People who have this disease suffer from muscle control and movement issues.
  • Talk to a healthcare professional if you think you might have one of these conditions. The professional will let you know if GFD is right for you.

    Foods You Can Eat If You’re on GFD

    If you are on GFD, ensure your diet includes a variety of gluten-free grains. You can also include vegetables and fruits as well as lean protein sources.

    Below are some good plant-based sources of gluten-free protein.

    • Chia seeds
    • Beans
    • Rice
    • Soy
    • Quinoa
    • Buckwheat
    • Sorghum

    If you are unsure about a particular food item, always ask a healthcare professional if it is gluten-free.

    Neat’s Gluten-Free Vegan Protein Powder

    Do you want to build and maintain your muscles in a gluten-free way? Then, you might want to try the Vegan Protein Powder from Neat.

    This protein powder is an absolute game-changer! It is sourced from natural crops in the British countryside for guaranteed premium quality. Aside from that, it is soy- and gluten-free.

    The Vegan Protein Powder is perfect for smoothies. Each serving gives you 26 grams of protein to help you gain essential amino acids like lysine. Meanwhile, if you want better post-workout muscle recovery, you will need 35 grams per serving.

    The Bottom Line

    So, is gluten really bad for you? The answer may be a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. However, by understanding what gluten is and how it can impact your health and nutrition, you're on your way to making an informed decision about whether or not to go gluten-free.

    If you do decide on a GFD, you can always try our Vegan Protein Powder. You can also check out our gluten-free recipes to add variety to your daily meals.

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