The great gluten debate
November is gluten-free diet awareness month, so it’s the perfect time to do some myth busting and talk about this diet fad that has been increasing in popularity.
First of all, gluten is the general name given to the proteins in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. It helps food maintain its shape by acting as a sort of glue that holds food together. There are some people who cannot eat gluten at all because of an auto-immune disorder called Celiac Disease.
For these people, gluten actually damages the small intestine lining, causing pain, bloating and other gastrointestinal upset, and prevents absorption of vitamins and minerals.1 Other people have gluten intolerance, which means they feel similar unpleasant symptoms after eating gluten, but the damaging immune response isn’t present.
For people with Celiac Disease no amount of gluten is safe to consume. Some people with gluten intolerance are able to consume small amounts of gluten and can opt for a low-gluten diet rather than cutting it out completely.2
Should everyone avoid gluten?
If you have neither condition, some experts suggest that a gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily healthier and won’t always contribute to weight loss. That’s because many gluten-free products have extra sugar and calories in them to make up for taste and texture that is lost when wheat products are removed.
Think of it this way: an apple and a gluten-free sugar cookie are both gluten-free, but no doctor would recommend eating a diet rich in sugar cookies as an effective or healthy way to lose weight! Gluten-free food can certainly be healthy—fruits, vegetables and lean protein are gluten-free—but processed products with hidden sugar and fat aren’t.
If you are able to eat gluten, the healthiest diet is one that’s well balanced and filled with whole, real foods—including whole grains which are full of plant-based proteins, fiber, vitamins, minerals and a variety of important phytochemicals.3
If you or someone you love has to eat a gluten-free or low gluten diet, the good news is that there are lots of incredible and healthy recipes to try!
Check out the following websites for some delicious and healthy gluten-free recipes:
Since the holiday season is fast approaching, and gluten-free baking week falls during the week before Christmas (December 13-19), you might want to try some gluten-free baking so those who can’t indulge in gluten-laden treats during the holidays have some special sweets to eat too.
Find out delicious gluten-free holiday baking and dessert ideas:
413005F CAN/US (11/15)