Time to find out if you’re cutting out gluten for all the wrong reasons. By Janice Sim
The growing phenomenon of clean, healthy eating has spread rapidly over the years whether through our social media feeds or health and wellness blogs, giving rise to more superfood trends for us to consider how we can improve our diets and quality of living. Amidst all that there is of course, the outbreak of public opinion on the G-word – the term gluten, which seems to have been marketed ominous in the superfood world.
So what exactly is gluten? It is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains. Here’s the deal, it usually only affects people diagnosed with celiac disease, which is a genetic autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine, leading to cramping, bloating and diarrhea. So gluten-free foods should definitely apply to the diets of this group of individuals as well as people with wheat allergies and gluten sensitvitiy. If you still think there’s more to gluten than it seems, here are the common misconceptions of this food dilemma:
1. “Gluten is bad for me.”
Unlike sugar, which is on a whole, unhealthy for the general population, gluten is very harmless to people like you and me, of course if you don’t have celiac disease, wheat allergies or gluten sensitivity. Whole grains that contain gluten, are in fact extremely nutritious, providing fibre and other important vitamins and minerals.
2. “Gluten only exists in foods like breads and pastas.”
Not true. Gluten can be found in many processed foods like bleu cheese, soya sauce, salad dressings, seasoning packets, hot dogs and even in beauty products. So if you are thinking of cutting out gluten, do make sure you only buy products that are labelled gluten-free.
3. “As long as I stick to gluten-free products, I’m on a healthier diet that can help me lose weight.”
There’s a common stigma about people who endorse going gluten-free, it makes them seem on a healthier track whether it helps with faster weight loss or increased alertness. But unfortunately, a gluten-free donut isn’t any bit healthier than a regular donut. The truth is you get just about the same amount of calories, sugar, fat from a gluten-free diet.
4. “I don’t suffer from celiac disease but still feel sick after eating gluten, I must have gluten sensitivity.”
Before coming to that conclusion, it is important to visit your doctor to run some blood tests and find out the real cause of discomfort. There are people, apart from the celiac disease population, who suffer from gluten sensitvity and end up with symptoms like stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, depression but it could also a result of something entirely different. According to a 2013 study from the journal Gastroenterlogy, the cause for the symptoms were actually poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates that are found in breads, instead of gluten itself.