Gluten-free diet is among the most popular diets. This is essential for people with celiac disease, but is gluten-free diet healthier than normal diets, or it's a consequence of fake believes and aggresive marketing?
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What is Gluten?
Gluten is the proteins found in wheat and derivatives, rye, barley and triticale (source)
Biochemically speaking, gluten is a structural protein formed by prolamin and glutelin proteins (source). It’s an elastic protein that helps the developing seed to grow and form the grain.
Foods with Gluten
A lot of the foods in our diet contain gluten. Gluten is present mainly The Big 3: Wheat, Barley, Rye.
All foods made from wheat, barley, and/or rye contain gluten. Other cereals such as oats contain some gluten as well, in this cause due to possible contamination of the grain (source).
Why A Gluten-Free Diet?
The global market for gluten-free products was valued at USD 5.9 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8% from 2022 to 2030 (source)
More and more people chooses the gluten-free version over the normal product.
Although there are some people in need of gluten-free products, most of them choose to do a gluten-free diet because they think it's healthier than a normal diet.
Who's in need of a gluten-free diet? Who follows a gluten-free diet?
Celiac disease is an inmune disease affecting the small intestine (source).
When people suffering from celiac disease eat gluten, the inmune system responds, causing damage in their small intestine (source). Damaged small intestine may cause diarrheas, malabsorption of nutrients, bloating and anemia, or other serious complications.
If you are celiac, you need to eat gluten-free products. There is, however, a wide variety of gluten-free substitutes, making the life easier to these subjects
Gluten intolerance, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, is a negative response of our body to gluten.
Different to celiac disease, the inmune response triggered is unspecific, and the symptoms are mild and temporary.
If you are gluten intolerant, you may feel mild bloating, heavy digestions, or stomach ache after eating gluten
To Eat “Healthier”
A big part of gluten-free costumers is people who doesn’t suffer from any gluten-related disease.
The agressive marketing and claims done by the industry on these products have convinced people to buy gluten-free products because they are healthier.
Is Gluten Free Healthier Than Normal Diets?
Everyone has assumed that gluten-free options are healthier than a normal diet Gluten seems to be the enemy, and avoiding it will do good for your health.
But that's not quite true. There's little evidence that a gluten-free diet offers any particular health benefits.
A gluten-free is not healthier than other diets by itself, but it depends largely on the food selection, nutritional content, and lifestyle
Gluten-free is not always healthy
It's a big mistake to think that a gluten-free diet will always be healthy. Not all gluten-free options are nutritious and recommended for your everyday life.
The absence of gluten requires of other substitutes to simulate the function of gluten in the product.
Often these substitutes are other gluten-free grains, but that's not always the case. Fibres, additives and added simple sugars can be used in gluten-free products as well.
Depends on the Food Selection
Fruit, vegetables, and oats are gluten-free.
Gluten-free cookies, chocolate, and candy bars are gluten-free as well.
Both diets would be gluten-free, but clearly one is much healthier and recommended than the other one.
A gluten-free diet can still be a healthy way to eat depending on which gluten-free foods you choose, how often you eat them and whether your other food choices are healthy ones.
How to Follow a Healthy Gluten-Free Diet
Gluten-free diets can be a great option if you know how to do them.
First you must know why you are doing it. Are you celiac, glucose intolerant, or you just want to avoid gluten?
Choosing the right gluten-free options is key if you want to follow a healthy diet. Don't assume all gluten-free products are healthy and look at the labels and ingredients list.
Base your diet on fruits, vegetables, whole foods, and naturally gluten-free foods.
A healthy gluten-free diet is also a matter of the other food choices. Besides gluten-free products, what else do you eat?
If you are not celiac nor glucose intolerant, being flexible and including gluten often could help you not to develop any glucose intolerance in the future.
Gluten-free diets are one of the most followed and popular diets. Some people need to do a gluten-free diet, but some others do it because they think a gluten-free diet is healthier than a normal diet.
In this post, you've learned what's gluten, the different profiles of people doing gluten-free diets, and the reality of these diets.