When it comes to maintaining good health and avoiding lifestyle diseases, many people are opting to eat a gluten-free diet. But not many people know what is a gluten free diet and how does it benefit one’s health.
Before you adopt a certain dietary practice, it’s important to be aware of it. Gluten is a protein that is found in rye, triticale, barley and wheat. It is a common assumption that gluten-free diets are meant only for people who suffer from food allergies or celiac disease. While this is true, there are people without any medical condition who are eliminating gluten from their diets. This transition to living a gluten-free lifestyle is the result of the many benefits this diet provides.
This article discusses some of the benefits of a diet without gluten.
Eating a Healthier Diet
Avoiding foods that contain gluten inadvertently means eating healthier. A gluten-free diet excludes a lot of packaged and processed foods that notoriously contain unhealthy sugars and bad fats. So, this diet focuses on eating unprocessed meats, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Improved Nutrient Absorption
A diet that does not contain gluten foods lets the stomach absorb nutrients and allows the production of vitamin B-12. Gluten is an “anti-nutrient” that blocks the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Gluten contains antioxidants called phytates. The phytates binds with minerals and removes them from the body.
People that consume large amounts of gluten can damage their intestinal villi, compromising the body’s ability to absorb fat. If the body does not absorb enough fat, it becomes deficient in essential fatty acids. As a result, the body starts to crave for food to compensate for the deficiency and there is an increased desire to eat more.
Eating foods that contain gluten also releases opioid endorphins. These endorphins contribute to cravings by creating euphoric sensations when eating foods that have gluten.
Decreases Body Inflammation
The body often sees gluten as a foreign invader and tries to fight it, like a virus or bacteria. When the body’s immune system reacts in this way, it triggers inflammation in the tissue. Unfortunately, inflammation caused by gluten means that the body is fighting healthy cells. Inflammation issues caused by gluten get worse overtime. Chronic inflammation contributes to several diseases and hinders fat loss. Chronic inflammation that is not controlled can even result in death. The best way to deal with gluten-caused inflammation is to reduce the intake of foods with gluten.
Prevents Insulin Resistance
Foods with gluten tend to be high on glycemic index and cause an increase in blood sugar. To counterbalance gluten’s affects, the pancreas creates insulin to lower the blood sugar. A diet that is high in gluten causes blood cells to have too much insulin. After a while, the cells will stop storing glucose and cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the body’s inability to properly use insulin. When this occurs, fat loss is difficult.
Scientists have found a correlation between gluten and decreased concentration. A diet that is filled with food and other substances that contain gluten can lead to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies have a significant impact on how the brain functions.
It is also believed that the same antibodies that see gluten as a foreign substance and attack a chemical in the brain that closely resembles gluten. Studies show that people that suffer from issues with concentration see an improvement in their ability to concentrate once they decrease their consumption of foods containing gluten.
What to Eat While Practicing a Gluten-Free Diet
Making the decision to switch to this diet is a drastic change and is best when introduced gradually. It is also a good idea to consult a doctor before embarking on any type of change in diet.
1. Foods that are free of gluten include the following:
- Fresh Eggs
- Seeds and nuts
Not all grains are restricted in this diet. People following a gluten-free lifestyle are also allowed to eat grains and starchy foods like cornmeal, arrowroot and buckwheat.
2. Foods to Avoid
As stated earlier, eating gluten free means excluding foods that contain wheat, rye and barley. This may seem simple enough, but there are numerous types of wheat. Here are a few common types of wheat:
3. Pay attention to labels
Usually, cookies, bread, pies beer and other items are to be avoided while on a gluten-free diet. However, if the labeling on the packaging states that the product is gluten free, it is suitable to eat.
Eating gluten-free has many benefits. While most people think about the benefits for people with celiac disease and gluten allergies, it has widespread health benefits that extend past beyond those issues. And since a gluten-free diet is also attributed to increased concentration, weight loss and healthier eating, you have enough reasons to switch to it.
Dorothy Wheaton, PA-C, works with Careworks Walk-In Clinics. Careworks operates a number of urgent care clinics in the US and helps patients with urgent and everyday healthcare.