FUELIXIR’S FAST GUIDE TO GLUTEN
WHAT IS GLUTEN?
There’s definitely a lot of talk about “Gluten” and “Gluten-Free Diets,” but there are many misconceptions to what this actually means. It’s a combination of proteins that are naturally found in grains and grain products – like pastas, cereals, and even some of our favorite spices. When you mix this protein with water (like mixing flour when making bread), they form a glue-like dough that is the ultimately satisfying and delicious foundation for the foods we eat.
WHY DO I KEEP HEARING THAT IT’S BAD FOR ME?
About 1% of the population has an autoimmune disorder called Celiac disease, which is a condition in which the body is unable to digest the gluten protein. This causes a multitude of unpleasant symptoms for these individuals, like excessive bloating, cramping, diarrhea and even unwanted weight loss. Those who do have Celiac disease generally need to be on a special diet in order to limit or eliminate gluten from their diet completely, and are diagnosed by a physician. A lot of the negative stigma surrounding gluten stems from it’s symptoms that it causes for this population, along with the fact that it’s in foods that are loaded with carbohydrates, starches, and sugars.
BUT SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE THAT, TOO.
Another condition that’s starting to get more recognition is known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, which is a condition where people have an intolerance to gluten but do not test positive for Celiac disease. A lot of the symptoms listed above are common occurrences for these people, but it’s not known how many people suffer from this. Many people think they have this condition, but it’s probably caused by something else – either another food or imagination – we don’t know. It’s best to talk to your doctor about these symptoms if they’re reoccurring.
SO CAN I BE HEALTHIER WITHOUT IT?
Avoiding gluten is unnecessary if you don’t fall into either of the categories above, so you can keep eating and enjoying the same foods you’ve been eating. However, if you want to try a gluten-free diet, just make sure you replace the wheat, rye, and barley with other foods that are nutrient-dense and good for you. Corn, rice, and most oats are naturally gluten-free, and so are most meats, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Substituting certain foods might be beneficial for your overall health anyway. Try replacing one food with another, and see how you feel! You never know what you’ll discover.
DROP THE MIC
Basically, gluten is not bad for you or your diet if you don’t have any other health conditions that can cause the insensitivity. Trying out a gluten-free diet might help you move towards healthier eating habits since you’ll be consuming more veggies and quinoa, but it’s not something to be afraid of. So keep eating gluten, or switch it up a little – you know your body better than anyone!
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