The internet has been raving about the importance of adopting a gluten-free diet for quite some time now. Supermarkets are teeming with gluten-free products and “gluten-free diets” are a fad now, well publicized by celebrities on social media. As a result, gluten is now posturized as the bad guy – detrimental for your health and something which needs to be avoided at all costs. However, should you go along with the hype? Is this just another food gimmick or is there any substantial proof that gluten is actually bad for your health? Let’s delve deeper into the subject!
Who Should Avoid Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in cereals such as barley, wheat, and rye. Gluten is essentially the substance that is responsible for the grain holding its shape as it glues it together. The fact is, a small percentage of the world’s population is incapable of digesting gluten as ingesting gluten products can result in irritation, headache, and gastric problems. Let’s take a look at certain conditions in detail to see the damage gluten does to the body
1. Wheat Allergy: As the name suggests, a person having wheat allergy becomes intolerant to the proteins in wheat. But the common misconception is that wheat allergy is associated with gluten which is incorrect! A person suffering from wheat allergy should only lay off from wheat and can eat gluten present in any other form of food or ingredient.
Symptoms: Abdominal pain, swelling of lips and tongue, nausea, itching, breathingtrouble or Anaphylaxis.
2. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: When the body has trouble processing gluten, the body typically reacts by showing symptoms of vomiting or abdominal pain. This can be avoided entirely by removing gluten from your diet.
3. Celiac Disease: Essentially a genetic disorder affecting 1% of the world’s population, in this condition, individuals have trouble digesting gluten. The gluten particles while passing through the small intestines harm the finger-like structures present in the intestine called Villi. Over time, the Villi gets damaged to the point that the body doesn’t effectively absorb the nutrients from the digested food.
Symptoms: Late growth, Anemia, behavioral changes, infertility.
Should You Go Gluten Free?!
If you do not suffer from any of the above-mentioned conditions, then there is no good reason to follow a gluten-free diet. As a matter of fact, studies have revealed that removing gluten from your diet can actually lower your immunity to germs. Hence, it’s recommended to stick to your existing diet if there’s no cause for worry.
There was also a myth surrounding gluten that intake of gluten causes heart diseases. However, researchers from Harvard conducted a study on a sample of more than 1,00,000 people and there was no damage reported to the heart. So go ahead and eat gluten as it’s not going to affect your heart’s functioning.
Is Gluten Free Healthy?
If you have opted to go gluten-free, you should know that these foods are processed and contain a higher level of sugar as well. Additionally, the cost associated with gluten-free products are prohibitory and generally cost twice the price of non-gluten-free counterparts. Besides the myth surrounding heart diseases, you should also choose not to believe in some of the below-mentioned myths either:
- Reduces the impact of food toxins
- Lowers Type-2 diabetes
- Anti-carcinogenic properties
- Calorie control
The Bottom Line
Unless you are gluten intolerant, you should not deviate from your normal diet and continue enjoying food items that are rich in gluten. In case you feel you’re allergic to gluten products, it would be wise to check with your doctor or physician before taking any evasive action. More importantly, do not allow myths and lies to govern your life. Eat healthy, live healthy!