Friday, June 21, 2013

To be or Not to be Gluten Free... That is the Question!

So, going gluten free is one of the new food fads that has taken off in the last couple of years. All of the stars are attributing their fabulous and shapely bodies and amazing health to it... so it must be good for you, right? Before making that decision, educate yourself!

Let's start here, what exactly is gluten?

Gluten can be found in wheat products and is a protein composite. Gluten is the substance responsible for the elastic texture of dough, used for cereal, grains, etc.

So, why should you think about going gluten free?

The number one reason anyone should go gluten free, is if they have been diagnosed by a doctor, with celiac disease. According to Web MD, "experts estimate that about 1% of Americans have celiac disease".  This disease can be serious, dangerous and very painful, if not treated correctly. You can read more about diagnosis, symptoms, etc. here.

Some people may not have celiac disease, but may be gluten sensitive. In this case, it's not always necessary to give up gluten entirely. Again, this is something that should be discussed with your doctor, however many people with this sensitivity are able to eat gluten, just in smaller quantities or only certain types. 

Our body's do not fully digest wheat. The portions which go undigested, ferment. This produces gas... we all know what happens from there!

Once we take in wheat, it quickly converts to sugar. This causes a rise in our insulin levels, which is one of the many reasons diabetics have to watch their carbohydrate intake. This sugar surge can also account for drowsiness later in the day.

These are just a FEW reasons why you may choose to go gluten. With that being said...

A few reasons why NOT to go gluten free.

Going gluten free may leave your body starving for nutrients. While gluten itself doesn't contain many nutritional benefits, the grains which contain the gluten, DO! A few of these grains are barley, rye and wheat. The reason that you may lack nutrients by going gluten free is because these  grains are rich in multiple vitamins and minerals such as iron, fiber and Vitamin B. 

Decisions, Decisions

So, while there are reasons to go gluten free, there are just as many NOT to  I've always believed that cutting anything out of your diet COMPLETELY is not the best idea. If there is a medical reason, then it may be a requirement. However, if it's a slight discomfort or bloating, being caused by gluten, try to limit the amounts of gluten or try different brands, or food prior to eliminating it completely. As always, speak with your doctor before doing anything drastic!

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