Friday, 13 June 2014

Myths About Gluten-Free Diets

Today I heard someone say that a particular shampoo was really good because it was organic and GLUTEN FREE! A few weeks ago I saw a segment on Jimmy Kimmel where they asked people who eat a gluten free diet to explain what gluten is (which they had no idea). 

This gave me a little chuckle because this gluten free craze is getting out of control. My aim today is to explain what gluten is and disprove some of the myths surrounding the gluten free diet. I don't talk much about gluten sensitivity in this post because I'm not an expert if you suspect you have an intolerance you need to see a doctor to be tested. 

Gluten is made up for two proteins Giladin and Glutenin. It is found in wheat, barley and rye. The elasticity of dough and the ability for bread to rise and hold its shape is the result of the gluten in the flour. Gluten is also used as an additive in processed foods to do things like thickening a liquid. Another place where you can find traces of gluten is in products that have been processed on the same equipment as gluten containing foods for example oats.

 If you are eating a gluten-free diet there is a very high chance you are paying more for your food when there really isn't a need to. Gluten-free has become a marketing tool that is raking in the big bucks for food companies. It is at the point now where lotions and shampoo are being advertised as gluten free.

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are both adverse effects to gluten. There are a lot of symptoms associated with these conditions and it effects everyone in different ways.

On to the myths......

Gluten makes you fat
This is untrue, gluten itself doesn't have kilojoules (calories) associated with it so it isn't contributing to your energy intake. The presence of gluten is irrelevant. The other components in the food such as carbohydrates, fat and protein contribute to the energy content of the food and can intern make you gain weight if you are not eating a balanced diet and exercising. Often gluten free foods have more kilojoules in them because extra sugar or fat has been added to make it taste better.

It is possible to lose weight eating a 'gluten-free' diet because it is likely you are avoiding processed foods, pastries and white bread (which are all quite high in kilojoules) and swapping them for more vegetables, fruits. Also when eating 'gluten-free' it would require you to be looking more at nutrition labels and this can help you to make healthier choices overall. The down-side of this is all the nutrients you miss out on by avoiding whole grain foods.

Gluten is unhealthy
Gluten isn't actually unhealthy for you (unless you have celiacs disease). Gluten doesn't really have any nutritional value itself but it is in whole grain products which provide fibre and certain vitamins that are good for your body.Flour in bread is also fortified with folate. If you are avoiding gluten there is a chance you could become deficient in these vitamins. Just because something says it is gluten free doesn't mean it is healthy, a gluten free cookie is still a cookie with sugar and butter.

There isn't really a reason to avoid gluten unless you have a form of gluten intolerance (which your doctor can test you for). Eating a balanced diet (including gluten) is much less complicated and more affordable.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Bridget xo

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