Insight about Gluten and the Gluten Free Diet

Gluten-free Diet – this phrase is talked about a lot nowadays. Foods are being labeled ‘Gluten Free’ and people are searching for Gluten-free diet recipes. More and more people are taking up gluten-free foods, but why? What is Gluten? Why should one go for Gluten-free foods? Here are the answers in simple words.

Gluten is basically a protein found in some specific foods naturally. Wheat is one of them and so also Barley, Rye, and Triticale which is a hybrid of the latter two grains. These are the basic food products in which gluten is found. All food products made using wheat, barley and rye also contain gluten. This includes cakes, kinds of pasta, bakery products, soups, salad dressings, the list goes on.

Who needs to avoid gluten?

There is a part of the populace, who cannot digest this gluten protein. Such people develop complications on continuous use of gluten in any form which gets reversed when they stop consuming gluten. Conditions such as Coeliac disease, Gluten ataxia, allergy to wheat all demand a gluten-free diet. This diet is also recommended for some patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, etc. A gluten void diet may help these patients to some extent.

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How to avoid Gluten in your diet?

It is not easy to avoid gluten because it is a constituent of the basic food wheat but not to worry, there are plenty of alternatives. Wheat is used in the majority of the products we eat though barley and rye are not a major part of the diet. So those who are recommended with a gluten-free diet should be careful while using processed foods. Ensure that the food is labeled ‘Gluten free’.  Naturally available gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and pseudo-cereals can be used. Dr. William Davis in his book ‘Wheat Belly’ advocates avoiding the use of any grains as ‘grains has always been a problematic calorie source’, especially wheat which he recommends to be avoided. Dr. Davis goes to the extent of calling wheat a poison in his book and stresses the role of grains in obesity, diabetes, and gastrointestinal health issues.

Is the Gluten free diet safe?

The debate is ongoing for this question. There are opposite views regarding this. One view is that wheat, barley, and cereals are rich sources of fiber and minerals. Taking this off from the diet will cause a deficiency in the supply of fiber and minerals to the body. This will have a long-term effect on the health of the person. This has to be countered by substituting the required amount of fiber and minerals in allowable forms, brown rice being one such option.

Finally, though a Gluten-free diet is a popular buzzword, it may not be for everyone. Only those who need it and are recommended medically should go on this diet. It is also essential to note that even when marked ‘Gluten free’ it is advised to check whether it is the completely free or permissible level of gluten is present. But there is no need to get disheartened if you are advised a Gluten-Free diet. Several alternatives still exist which ensures you will not miss your favorite tastes and nutrition.

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