Gluten free diets are not just for celiacs.
In the last few years, there has been a lot of information about gluten and how it can impact the health of some individuals. Even those without celiac disease (gluten intolerance) can still be sensitive to gluten and experience mild to moderate symptoms that may not be recognized as a result of having gluten in the diet.
However, there is increasing demand for gluten-free products from those interested in preventative health. There are some important factors and cautions to keep in mind, so let’s talk about those briefly before exploring the benefits of giving up gluten.
When looking for gluten-free products be sure to:
- Check ingredients – not all gluten-free products are healthier than those containing gluten. Many gluten-free foods are highly processed or contain chemicals and additives.
- Understand the calories – just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it is low calorie. Read the label and check for the level of sugars and fats in the product.
- Substitute additional fiber – grains add about 44% of the fiber in a typical American diet. If you are removing all food with grains, make sure to boost your intake of vegetables and fruits to keep fiber levels where they need to be.
Benefits of Gluten-Free Eating
Choosing a gluten-free lifestyle will have several benefits. These can include:
- Feeling mentally sharper – those that have a gluten intolerance will experience a sense of mental fog lifting once they stop consuming grains.
- Happier you – another common effect is a decrease in reported symptoms of depression. The connection between gluten and brain chemicals is not understood by researchers, but in multiple studies depressive symptoms lessen in those removing gluten from their diet.
- Weight loss – many people eliminating grains and gluten-containing foods (mostly processed foods) will see a slight to moderate weight loss.
- Reduce inflammation in the body – wheat products are rapidly digested and converted into sugar in the blood. This causes a spike in blood sugar levels which in turn triggers inflammation in the cells of the body. By eliminating gluten, you can reduce this inflammation.
It is also important to note that many people on a gluten-free diet eliminate issues with bloating after eating and feeling tired throughout the day.