- A gluten-free diet can have health benefits for some people
- A gluten-free diet also carries some possible risks
- Individuals with gluten-related complications should follow a gluten-free diet
- It’s not necessary to follow a gluten-free diet if you don’t have any health reasons
A gluten-free diet is a type of diet that eliminates foods with gluten-containing grains. Consumers would like to know if gluten free is healthy.
A gluten-free diet can be healthy and beneficial to people with gluten-related complications like celiac disease, gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, or gluten sensitivity. There’s minimal evidence that shows any possible benefits of a gluten-free diet to people with no gluten-related issues.
We aim to empower people on a gluten-free diet to live healthier, stronger and happier lives. We do this by sharing relevant news, tips, recipes and other relevant information, which we post on our site. We use medical experts and highly reliable sources while ensuring everything is rigorously fact-checked. So, you can be confident that the information we are providing you is accurate, unbiased and highly trustworthy.
Is Going Gluten-Free Really a Healthy Choice?
Is gluten free healthy? If you're someone who is health-conscious or has dietary restrictions, you've probably heard of the gluten-free diet.
While some people need to avoid gluten due to medical conditions such as celiac disease or gluten intolerance, many people have adopted a gluten-free diet as a way to improve their overall health.
Some follow a strict gluten free diet for personal reasons. But is a gluten-free diet really healthier for you? The answer is not so simple. While eliminating gluten can have some health benefits, there are potential drawbacks as well.
In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of a gluten-free diet and help you make an informed decision about whether it's the right choice for you.
Gluten: A Closer Look
If you've ever wondered what gluten is, you're not alone. Gluten is used as a thickener in many processed foods. These may include soups, sauces, and dressings.
For people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and other health problems.
Gluten-Free Diet: Benefits and Risks
Individuals considering a gluten-free diet need to understand the potential benefits and risks. Here are some of the benefits and risks of following a gluten-free diet.
Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
Going on a gluten-free diet is a choice that people make, depending on various reasons. Some may start a gluten-free diet because they have been recently diagnosed with a gluten-related condition like celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Others simply go on this diet to reduce the uptake of simple carbohydrates. Here are some potential benefits of a gluten-free diet.
Alleviates Digestive Complications
People with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerance may experience digestive complications after consuming gluten-containing foods. The majority of complications arise in the digestive system, including gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Also, gluten can trigger damage to the lining of the small intestine in celiacs. Ultimately, the small intestines will not be able to absorb sufficient nutrients, leading to poor absorption.
Consuming a gluten-free diet will help to alleviate all the complications that people with gluten-related complications experience, thus enabling them to lead healthier and happier lives.
Can Help Lower Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation helps the body heal and treat infections. But, sometimes, it may go overboard, lasting for weeks or even months, a condition known as chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation may lead to several serious complications if left untreated.
Fortunately, a gluten-free diet may help to lower chronic inflammation for individuals with celiac disease.
Besides helping to lower chronic inflammation, a gluten-free diet may also help to alleviate gut damage caused by the same inflammation.
May Increase Your Energy Levels
Individuals with celiac disease may at times feel sluggish or fatigued. Also, they may experience brain fog, together with forgetfulness, trouble focusing or even forgetfulness.
These complications arise from nutrient deficiencies triggered by gut damage. For people who have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet may eventually help to increase their energy levels, reducing sluggishness, tiredness and brain fog.
Risks of a Gluten-Free Diet
A gluten-free diet is essential for people with gluten-related complications. But, it also carries some possible health risks. Here are some of the drawbacks associated with a gluten-free diet.
Lack of Essential Nutrients
Most gluten-free diets are low in certain essential nutrients. In most cases, it will be low in fiber, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, vitamin B12, iron, vitamin B9, and riboflavin, among others. A deficiency in these essential nutrients may eventually cause numerous complications in the body.
Risk of Constipation
Constipation remains one of the biggest risks of a gluten-free diet. All gluten-free diets will eliminate wheat-based products like bread. Wheat-based products have one of the richest sources of fiber.
Fiber plays a key role in the body in promoting regular and healthy bowel movements. Unfortunately, most gluten-free wheat substitutes are low in fiber, which may explain why constipation remains an issue for people on a gluten-free diet
Gluten-Free Foods: What to Eat
A gluten-free diet is not an option for those who have gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or any other gluten-related condition. But, going gluten-free doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or variety in your diet. Here are some gluten-free foods to eat:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and tofu
- Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and gluten-free oats
- Seeds and nuts
- Unprocessed beans
- Grains like cornmeal, soy, buckwheat flour, millet, quinoa, flax and rice
Gluten-Free Foods: What to Avoid
To enjoy a healthier and happier life, individuals with gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance or celiac disease need to stay away from any gluten-containing foods – even if gluten is only present in trace amounts. Some of the foods that you should avoid include:
- Foods made or processed from gluten grains like wheat, barley, and rye
- Breads, pasta, and cereal
- Processed meats
- Most desserts
- Some brands of soy sauce
- Pies and cakes
- Brown rice syrup
- Malt derivatives such as malt vinegar, malted milk and brewer’s yeast
- Sauces mix
- French fries
- Self-basting meat
When cooking at home, try using gluten-free alternatives such as almond flour, coconut flour, or cornmeal. There are also many gluten-free products available in grocery stores, including bread, pasta, and snacks.
Read food labels carefully to ensure they are gluten-free. Just because a particular product hasn’t been made with gluten-containing grains doesn’t mean it’s necessarily gluten-free. It may have been contaminated with gluten during processing.
Gluten-containing preservatives or additives may have been added in processed foods, meaning it’s not gluten-free. Anyone with gluten-related complications like celiac disease or gluten intolerance should read all food labels carefully before consuming anything.
Is Gluten-Free Healthy?
For individuals who have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy, a gluten-free diet is necessary to manage gluten-related complications. A gluten-free diet will enable them to live happier and healthier lives.
In case you don't have any of these conditions, there is no need to go gluten-free. Additionally, avoiding gluten may lead to nutrient deficiencies if you don't replace gluten-containing foods with other nutrient-dense options.
If you're considering a gluten-free diet for weight loss or other health reasons, it's important to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to ensure that you're still getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs.
Tips for Following a Gluten-Free Diet Successfully
Following a gluten-free diet is essential for everyone who has been diagnosed with gluten-related issues and they should avoid gluten containing food and gluten alcoholic beverages.
If possible, one should go for naturally gluten free foods and naturally gluten free ingredients. Some may also decide to follow this diet for personal reasons.
Whether you’ve adopted a gluten-free diet because of gluten-related complications or personal reasons, the following tips will help you follow it successfully.
Read packaging carefully. You should get into the habit of reading food packaging to identify whether there are any gluten-containing ingredients.
Buy a gluten-free cookbook. Purchasing a gluten-free cookbook will make your work easier when it comes to preparing your meals.
It will enhance your meal preparation creativity while making your dishes more enjoyable.
Make sure you use separate cooking utensils and preparation areas. If you are sharing a kitchen with family members, roommates or friends, then you should ensure you use separate cooking utensils and preparation areas.
This will help to eliminate gluten cross contamination when preparing your food.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker