These days, the gluten-free diet has become quite popular among people in their 20s and 30s. Supermarkets are stocked with gluten-free products and restaurants have the letters ‘GF’ on the menu. Let’s look at the science behind this trend.
Gluten is a broad term that refers to a group of proteins commonly found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. When flour produced from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins combine with water to form a glue-like consistency, hence the name gluten. Other common foods containing gluten include pasta, cereal, cookies, pastries, processed foods, and beer.
Most people can consume gluten without any problems. However, for those suffering with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten sensitivity; eating gluten-containing foods can result in abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, foul-smelling feces, weight loss, tiredness, and depression. In such cases, avoiding gluten can resolve symptoms and significantly improve quality of life.
Probably due to its increasing popularity among the world’s top athletes, many people who have not been officially diagnosed with gluten intolerance have taken up the gluten-free diet. For such individuals, going gluten free can have the following effects:
- Weight Loss: Avoiding bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, and processed foods in favor of healthier gluten-free foods will invariably result in weight loss. Just make sure the gluten-free food you consume is not loaded with additional sugar and fat.
- Improved Digestion: Going gluten-free can reduce bloating, diarrhea, and improve other intestinal conditions such as lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Possible Improved Cognition: Most foods containing gluten are usually also high in carbs. Cutting out the gluten invariable results in reduced of carb intake and lower blood glucose levels that has been shown to improve cognitive brain function in the long run.
- Possible Nutritional Deficiencies: Whole grains are a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Whether the gluten-free diet has been prescribed by your doctor or is a matter of personal choice, you must be careful to ensure you are getting sufficient quantities of vitamins and essential nutrients from gluten-free sources.
If you suspect you may have gluten-intolerance or feel you might benefit from avoiding gluten, it would be preferable to get yourself evaluated by your doctor or gastroenterologist who can help you safely adopt a gluten-free lifestyle.