Despite widespread popularity of gluten-free dieting, there can sometimes be a lack of awareness as to what exactly gluten is and who should and should not consume it. We’d like to offer you a bit of guidance on this often controversial topic.
What Is It?
In their typical form, wheat products such as bread contain a fusion of proteins called gluten. It can either occur naturally or be used as an additive (often for imitation meats to increase protein content). Given its visco-elastic consistency, it is partly responsible for the integrity and rising action of dough and the overall texture of many grain products. From a nutritional standpoint, gluten itself isn’t of significant value, but many of the grains containing it are very important nutritionally.
Why All the Fuss?
A lot of the controversy surrounding gluten comes from mixups regarding when it does and does not pose a detriment to the body. Remember our blog on cleanse dieting? Certain aspects of the gluten-free phenomenon are quite similar. Advocacy by celebrities and certain nutrition writers is as common as ever, and the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of gluten-free food products is now an enormous industry. While there is a growing popular assumption that dropping gluten can help constitute a healthy lifestyle for everyone, the truth is a bit more complicated than that.
Should I Avoid It?
Think of gluten’s effects on our bodies as a spectrum. In one area of this spectrum are people with Celiac disease. About 1% of people in the developed world are estimated to be affected by this disorder, which causes a number of digestive symptoms and damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Then there are those experiencing non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Currently, scientific understanding of this syndrome is highly limited. While not shown to cause intestinal damage, it is characterized by its own set of varying symptoms. Lastly, there are individuals who do not show significant reaction or damage as the result of gluten consumption. In this case, dropping gluten is not worth the loss of nutrients we get from whole grains and other products containing it. If you and your doctor have ruled out Celiac and NCGS, you might want to think twice about that gluten-free diet!
Looking for more help on your path to fitness and a healthier lifestyle? You’ve come to the right place! Give Vitality Fitness a call today at (587) 777-3378 and we’ll get you on the right track.