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If you are not familiar with the term “gluten-free diet,” you probably haven’t been paying much attention for the last, let’s say, two decades. Yes – you’ve read that right – that’s how long this type of dietary regimen has been around.
However, the reason behind its resurgence is the rise of a significant number of celebrities who have been sticking to this diet in the past couple of years.
Victoria Beckham, Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Alba, and Miley Cyrus are just some of the celebrities who are on a gluten-free diet plan. For some of them, it was a personal choice (in order to lose weight or stay in shape), while the others were obligated due to gluten intolerance. Keeping this in mind, researchers found that between 2009 and 2014, the number of followers of a gluten-free diet in America was three times higher than the number of people with celiac disease, the condition for which this diet is recommended.
If Victoria Beckham can do it, so can you, right? Well, we wish it were that simple.
As is usually the case with any diet plan, you should be careful when restricting certain types of foods.
So, how can you tell whether you have a gluten allergy or even celiac disease? Should you be following this selection of food and drink to lose weight? Well, we are going to bust all the myths and facts regarding these proteins.
What is gluten?
The term gluten refers to the proteins found in cereal grains like rye, wheat and barley. Rye is commonly found in cereals and rye beer; wheat in bread, pasta, and sauces; while barley is usually found in food coloring, soups, and beer.
Gluten’s primary role is to nourish plants’ embryos during germination. Later on, it acts as a glue that holds the dough together and has an effect on the dough’s consistency.
Although gluten is a common term for several different proteins, the two most prominent classes of gluten are gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin provides the ability to rise during baking, while glutenin effects dough’s elasticity.
The most important thing to remember about gluten is that it can be found in many foods, even in ones you don’t expect to find it, such as food coloring. So, if you follow this plan, will you still be able to enjoy some tasty food? Of course! Continue reading to learn more.
Is a Gluten-free diet for you?
A gluten-free diet plan is only recommended for people who are battling the celiac disease.
According to Medical News Today, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease described as an intolerance to gluten. More precisely, a person with celiac disease experiences the destruction of the inner lining of the small intestine, which leads to malabsorption of nutrients in the long run. Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue, gas, bloating, fluid retention, and weight loss.
But before you start thinking you might have celiac disease, please remember that it affects 1 in every 141 people in the US.
There is one more condition you should be aware of – a non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). As LiveScience states, this condition causes symptoms similar to celiac disease, like diarrhea and fatigue, but it doesn’t cause any damage to the intestines. This is why it is crucial to have a proper diagnosis and always consult a doctor before starting a new diet regimen.
Is there any gluten-intolerance at-home test?
Unfortunately, no. There is no such thing as an at-home test that can provide 100% certainty you suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease. You can always try to cut off gluten-rich food like ice-cream, soy sauce, and pasta to see what happens.
However, doing so will not give you a complete answer as to whether you are gluten sensitive or not.
To get an accurate diagnosis, it is highly recommended that you do lab testing. More precisely, do the intestinal biopsy and/or blood test. If a blood test detects endomysial and anti-gliadin antibodies, as well as anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies, you are gluten intolerant. It is also good to do genetic testing.
If you think you might be experiencing gluten allergy, check Glutenfreesociety.org and complete the online test to find out if you suffer from gluten sensitivity.
Pros of going gluten-free
Going gluten-free has a couple of perks.
For starters, if you have even the slightest gluten sensitivity, when you cut it out of your diet, you will start to feel more energized and awake. In this case, gluten allergy works like any other allergy – it can bring you down and cause tiredness. Therefore, by removing the cause of your allergy, your body will start to feel better.
The obvious benefit of eating only gluten-free foods is weight loss. The reason behind this is obvious – transferring to this diet usually means making healthier choices, like eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and fish, to avoid taking in gluten.
We are sure you are aware that cutting off processed foods and preparing home-cooked meals is highly beneficial, not just for weight loss. But people who practice a gluten-free diet are more prone to losing weight due to the better regulation of enzymes and receptors that are credited for fat loss.
The term gluten-free is also somewhere connected to fertility improvement. It is said the longer the celiac disease goes untreated, the higher the risk of developing fertility difficulties.
There are clinical studies that show women who haven’t been adequately treated had issues conceiving. According to Natural-fertility-info.com, one study showed women between the ages of 22 and 38, who had untreated celiac disease, all suffered from miscarriages over 11 years. Not only that, but going gluten-free to treat celiac disease improves the ability to carry the pregnancy.
So, just like with any other disease, you have to treat it and take care of your health.
Cons of Going Gluten-Free
Surprisingly enough, if you try to Google ‘cons on following a gluten-free diet,’ you wouldn’t find too many results. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.
# 1. Issue
Let’s cover the cons that affect physical appearance first. As mentioned before, cutting out gluten from your diet will give you healthier options. Choosing healthier options usually means taking in more proteins, and cutting off carbohydrates, which can lead to weight loss. However, be aware that sometimes, you can gain weight instead.
The reason behind this is the fact that manufacturers tend to add more sugar to a gluten-free product in order to make it tastier. Sugar raises a product’s calorie level, which can result in you gaining a few pounds.
# 2. Issue
Another, even more, serious issue can be the fact being on a gluten-free diet usually means you are not eating enough fibers. Not only that, this type of diet causes severe nutrient deficiency, especially calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, and vitamin B.
If you are interested in knowing which nutrients you should pay attention to, be sure to check Verywellfit.com’s article.
# 3. Issue
There is one more serious thing we have to mention. Speculation is, going gluten-free can lower the risk of having cancer. Well, this is not entirely true. Yes, it’s a fact, if a person has celiac disease or gluten allergy, the risk of getting cancer can only rise. That being said, there is a connection between including whole-grain food in your diet and lowering the chance of getting cancer.
Since whole-grain foods contain a lot of fiber, which balances hormone levels and blood sugar, they do protect your body. But, we advise you not to completely believe in the stories that a gluten-free diet can strengthen the immune system. Why? Because your immune system can’t be on an optimal level if you are avoiding foods that have nutrients vital for your health.
# 4. Issue
Let’s bust another myth. What about eating gluten-free foods to relieve joint pain and inflammation, or, more precisely, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Nope, not going to help with that either. In fact, according to Susan Goodman MD, there is no connection between these two. However, cutting off gluten can improve digestion, and relieve joint pain with patients who have a genetic predisposition to gluten sensitivity or suffer from gluten intolerance.
# 5. Issue
Gluten-free promoters also mention that a gluten-free diet can protect you from getting a stroke and lower the risk of heart disease. According to Harvard Health, there is no significant difference in heart attack frequency among people who eat gluten, and those who don’t eat gluten every day. The study was conducted among 110,000 healthy women and men who did not have celiac disease.
Why are there more cons than pros?
Well, it wasn’t intentional. As you can see, a gluten-free diet can lead to weight loss (in most cases), but just like any restrictive diet, it is not beneficial for the body. Avoiding eating certain types of food leads to not getting enough nutrients and vitamins.
However, we have a big disclaimer to make!
A gluten-free diet is currently the only way people with gluten intolerance can manage their health and is highly recommended. So, if you are diagnosed with celiac disease, please make sure you are sticking to this diet and taking additional nutrients and vitamins that will balance your health.
What does a Celiac disease diet look like?
Celiac disease or gluten allergy diet plan is quite simple – you should eat:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, fish and seafood
- Beans, legumes and nuts as well as
If you need a more detailed list, try not to skip on Eatingwell.com’s post.
Of all these types of food, you might notice one type that’s missingーgrains. You should be especially careful with this one since many of them contain gluten. Check out Celiac Disease Foundation’s post on which grains you should eat.
To make your life a bit easier, let’s go through what you shouldn’t eat.
Starting with breakfast. It is commonly recommended that you have a high-calorie meal for breakfast, which will keep you energized for the rest of the day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? However, sometimes, you want to grab a bowl of cereal and be done with it. Nevertheless, if you have celiac disease or suffer from gluten intolerance, be careful, since most cereals contain gluten. Try to find the ones that are labeled “gluten-free.”
Lunchtime! If you are thinking about adding some BBQ sauce over the steak, you might want to think again. Barbeque and other sauces, often contain wheat as a thickener. Also, craving for a dessert after lunch? Yes, in moderation, and only if it is labeled “gluten-free.” As mentioned before, stay away from processed food. For that matter, why not make gluten-free desserts yourself?
At the end of the day, when you want to watch Netflix and chill, you might have a craving for a glass of red wine. No problem! Treat yourself and enjoy it. On the other hand, we have bad news for all beer lovers. Avoid beer and lager, as they are not gluten-free.
Now, let’s get to the most common mistakes people make when they try to go gluten-free:
Mistakes you are likely to make on a gluten-free diet
Throughout this article, we tried to point out some misconceptions and potential mistakes you can make when going on a gluten-free diet. Now, we are going to sum it all in the top 4 mistakes you are most likely to make.
The first mistake would be obvious – shopping only for gluten-free food in the gluten-free aisle. Those products are… well, toxic. They contain fats and sugars, which are unnecessary and cannot benefit your body. Again, try to stay away from any processed food.
The second mistake was mentioned earlier – eating legumes and nuts. Although these types of food contain fibers and good fats, they can irritate your bowels, so try to avoid them. Especially coffee!
The third mistake is something you are going to have to accept and deal with – nutritional deficiencies. The only way to combat this is to take supplements. This is especially important when you are using any medication.
And the fourth, final mistake is not reading food labels. It is now common for manufacturers to state on the label that a product is gluten-free. So, try to get to know a gluten-free diet as much as possible and read the labels.
As you were able to see, a gluten-free diet is a specific type of diet plan that is ONLY meant for people who experience gluten sensitivity and have celiac disease. This selection of foods is not recommended for anyone who hasn’t experienced gluten allergy symptoms. So be sure to consult a doctor before you start practicing it yourself.
Are there any topics you believe we didn’t cover? Have you tried this dietary regimen? What’s your experience?
Image credits: Pixabay.com
Last article update: 10/9/2019