Gluten free food seems to be the latest fad these days, just about every store now carries gluten-free products and even restaurants are catching up but what IS gluten? Is it really all that bad for you or is it just the latest Hollywood trend?
Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and even in some oats (due to cross-contamination with wheat). The argument against gluten is that, since wheat is a ‘relatively’ new product, our bodies have not developed enough to adapt to wheat and thus, gluten, causes damage to our bodies, specifically the intestines.
The theory is that humans evolved to be meat-eaters and that beautiful loaf of sourdough you just picked up is going to slowly kill you.
Luckily, science, seems to have proved otherwise. Latest studies have shown that unless you have Celiac disease or have been tested positive for wheat allergy or gluten intolerance, going gluten-free will not provide you with any extra-benefits. It is important that you carefully look at the labels of your products as many of them these days have a lot of preservatives and fillers that CAN cause digestive problems, which can be mistaken for gluten intolerance.
Although gluten doesn’t provide us with any nutritional benefits, whole-grains, such as oats and whole-wheat bread/pasta, do provide us with some essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B and Iron so if you choose to go gluten-free, make sure to get these vitamins and minerals through other sources.
Another reason why gluten-free diets are so popular these days is because some people have lost some weight while on it. The important thing to note here is that products that contain gluten are also high in carbohydrates, therefore getting rid of gluten means cutting out those carbohydrates. The cutting out of these carbs is the reason for the weight-loss, not a lack of gluten.
The only way to know if you should avoid gluten is to have yourself tested for gluten intolerance. Our ancestors have been eating bread for centuries and they did just fine. So enjoy that pizza, in moderation, of course!