The demand for gluten-free products is exploding as more and more products are popping up on grocery shelves offering gluten-free alternatives. It seems food labels today proclaim everything is gluten-free –even vegetables! And according to a recent survey – a third of Americans are trying to go gluten-free. So what is gluten? And what does going gluten-free actually mean.
Firstly, gluten is a composite found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale.
A gluten-free diet –eliminating gluten’s is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, a medical condition in which glutens damage the absorptive surface of the small intestine. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.
According to the Canadian Celiac Association, statistics are not readily available but it is believed that 1 in 133 people in Canada have Celiac disease.
Some may not have Celiac disease but express an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten. In non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no attack on the body’s own tissues. However, many of the symptoms are similar to those in Celiac disease, including bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, as well as pain in the bones and joints. There is no clear way of diagnosing gluten sensitivity, so if you feel you might have an intolerance your only option is to eliminate gluten-from your diet for a period of time to see if your symptoms subside. You could incorporate grains that don’t include gluten such as quinoa and amaranth.
However, going gluten-free means not eating many common and nutritious foods. Eliminating an entire food group also means having to adapt to an entirely different diet while ensuring you are still getting enough vitamins, minerals and fibers in your daily diet.
Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits. But the many whole grains that contain gluten do. They’re rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber. Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
So before you decide to go gluten-free, check with your family physician and see if this is worth it for you.
#glutenfree #healthy #sugarfree #healthyliving
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