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Well, there are a few reasons why you might choose to stick to a gluten free diet. The main one being because you have Coeliac Disease, or you may be gluten intolerant or simply because you want to cut down on gluten. The first two, however are dietary specific; your body simply cannot process gluten; therefore, you have to exclude this from your diet.
Let’s take a step back… I may be pointing out the obvious, but it’s important to understand what gluten is and where it can be found.
Gluten is a family of storage proteins that are naturally found in certain cereal grains, such as wheat, barley, oats and rye. It performs a variety of valuable functions in bread products that help make them deliciously soft and chewy and also acts as a thickener or stabiliser. On the other side, gluten can also cause stomach pain, bloating, constipation, headaches and fatigue.
But taking away the gluten doesn’t mean you’re left with boring food or limited options. In fact, it is now more than ever, easier to find delicious gluten free foods and drinks. You can even find multiple options on a restaurant menu. This is purely because the “Gluten Free Diet” has become increasingly popular with the growing awareness of dietary intolerances as well as a better understanding in what we’re putting into our bodies.
Whether you’re Coeliac, gluten intolerant or choose a gluten free diet, it’s good to understand how this can affect your body and the benefits that may well lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Inflammation: Grains may contribute to inflammation, which is believed to be the root cause of many chronic diseases. If you experience frequent joint pain, you could try cutting out or reducing the amount of gluten in your diet to help reduce your pains and irritation.
Digestion: most people try a gluten-free diet to treat digestive problems. These include bloating, diarrhoea or constipation, gas, fatigue and many other symptoms. Studies have shown that following a gluten free diet can help ease digestive symptoms for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Weight loss: a diet devoid of processed grains found in calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods like white bread, white pasta, pizza, doughnuts, cookies, and other baked goods may aid in weight loss as you’re not consuming as many overall daily calories.
Energy: consuming gluten products can affect the intestines which, in turn, affects the absorption of several nutrients including iron. Iron deficiency leads to anaemia which results in fatigue and physical exertion. Switching to a gluten free diet will give your intestines a chance to heal and restore nutrient absorption and improve your energy levels.
On the reverse side, there are some downsides to be aware of when choosing a gluten free diet.
Nutritional Deficiency: people on a gluten free diet seem to choose more processed foods labelled as “gluten-free” over nutritious, naturally gluten free foods like fruits and vegetables. This can lead to a deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals like fibre, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, folate, zinc, vitamins A, D, E and K and more. So, it’s important you stay on top of your vitamin intake.
Constipation: Constipation is a common side effect on a gluten free diet as it eliminates many popular sources of fibre like bread, bran and other wheat-based products. Eating a fibre rich diet may help counteract this so look at adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Cost: anything a little different costs more… well, that’s the way it used to be. As a gluten free diet is becoming more popular, the cost is coming down. While you will always pay a little more (this is mainly due to the additional manufacturing costs involved), today it is more accessible than ever to enjoy a gluten free diet and not have to sell your soul to do it.
If you think you have a gluten intolerance, we highly recommend you speak to your medical practitioner further. You can also find out more about Coeliac disease here: https://www.coeliac.org.au/
At Healthy Essentials Australia, we have a great range of Gluten Free products from pantry staples, cake mixes, snacks and meals that not only taste great but won’t cost you the earth. You can take a look here: https://healthyessentialsaustralia.com.au/collections/gluten-free