You can’t go into any grocery store these days without seeing food products, and even entire sections, labeled ‘Gluten Free.’ There is so much information out there about going Gluten Free that it can be difficult to tell what to believe. When considering a Gluten Free diet for yourself or your family, you need to consider a few things.
Contrary to popular belief, Gluten is not just ‘bread’. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue which holds food together.
In people who suffer from Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease and other autoimmune diseases, gluten can trigger an immune response that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. That, in turn, can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, causing malnutrition and leaky gut – which can, in turn, lead to other Autoimmune conditions.
Other gluten sensitivities exist and the symptoms are similar to, but less severe than, those of a formally diagnosed gluten intolerance. For the population in general, the human body doesn’t digest wheat well. So, if changing your gluten intake makes you feel better and alleviates any sort of discomfort – go for it.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, beans, legumes, nuts, grass-fed dairy, cassava, soy, quinoa, amaranth, teff, flax, chia, yucca and many nut flours (like almond flour) are naturally Gluten Free. It is important to note, though, that by the time you receive them some naturally Gluten Free grains may contain Gluten from cross-contact with Gluten-containing grains during harvesting or processing.
It is always important to check the labels on your food. Often, when something is labeled ‘Gluten Free’ it has added sugar, rice or corn. Processed food is still processed food whether it’s labeled Gluten Free or not. Eating minimally processed foods should always be the goal.
If you believe you are suffering from a true Gluten sensitivity or allergy, see a professional to start changing your diet and healing your gut. A Gluten Free diet isn’t a way to lose weight and solve all of your health issues. Healing your gut by ensuring that your diet is rich in fresh, whole fruits and vegetables, good quality protein, healthy fats and limited starches is.