n today’s health and fitness landscape, it is fair to say that there are more diet recommendations than you can count on both hands (and feet too!). One of which, that been promoted by several high profile athletes and celebrities, is an entirely gluten-free diet. This is a relatively new kid on the block when it comes to cutting out food groups and specific ingredients. However, before diving into a new diet, it is sensible to conduct some research into what the experts are saying.
So the big questions are, is a high gluten diet actually bad for you? And, is the gluten-free diet healthy?
What Is Wrong With Gluten?
In truth, gluten is only damaging to consume if you happen to suffer from celiac disease. This is a medically-diagnosed condition in which your body is unable to tolerate gluten, which is a protein that is found in food products like wheat, barley, and rye.
Even consuming a small amount of gluten for someone intolerant can lead to damaging immune responses, which can lead to ailments of varying severity such as nerve damage, seizures, infertility, and osteoporosis. As you can see, this is an extremely pressing matter for those who do have celiac disease.
Can You Have Too Much Gluten?
Although for those who have celiac disease, any amount of gluten can be harmful, there is no evidence to suggest that if you do not have an intolerance that you can “overdose” on gluten. If gluten comes from natural sources and those sources are eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet, consuming products containing gluten is merely giving your body the essential nutrients that such products contain – i.e., the benefits of whole grains.
Why Are Non-Celiacs Going Gluten-Free?
There is a growing number of people who are not intolerant yet still taking up a gluten-free lifestyle, and this has generally been the result of a public perception that this is a better way to live when considering your gastrointestinal health. This is paired with the growing accessibility and availability in everyday life of products and food items that are gluten-free.
Many people are also starting to self-diagnose themselves as celiac sufferers when in actuality, different factors are contributing to their poor gastrointestinal and overall health.
Is It Okay To Be Gluten-Free?
If you are someone with a medically diagnosed intolerance to gluten, then going completely gluten-free is the only way for you to be able to live a healthy and happy life without the constant immune system and gastrointestinal obstacles to overcome.
For those making the change for non-celiac reasons, there have been suggested health benefits, including altered gut function and changes to one’s gut microbiome. A gluten-free regime has also been known to help those with irritable bowel syndrome.
However, it must be noted that some who cut gluten from their diets run the risk of deficiencies in essential nutrients like iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, niacin, and folate. Whole grains contain a plethora of essential nutrients that the body needs for optimum performance, so it is vital to make sure that you find those nutrients from other sources if you are not consuming products containing gluten.
Ultimately, the consensus is that a high gluten diet is only truly ‘bad’ for you if you have celiac disease. Still, the growing availability of gluten-free products has undoubtedly shown that the option to be gluten-free is one that everyone can easily take up if they so wish.