First, let’s start by briefly talking about what a gluten-free diet is since this guide is primarily about the question “Is gluten free a healthy diet?”
But, first, what is gluten? Gluten is a protein present in barley, rye, and wheat, and you can also find it in any food or drink that is made from or contains these grains.
So, you can find any of these foods or drinks that are made from gluten in a gluten-free diet, which gives us the definition of a gluten free diet.
Who Can’t Eat Gluten?
Well, who are the people who avoid gluten? Who can’t eat gluten? They are mostly people who suffer from celiac disease and also people who choose to be on a gluten-free diet.
As a result, I believe it is critical for people suffering from dermatitis herpetiformis to adhere to a gluten free diet for an extended period of time.
There’s also a common misconception that a gluten-free diet is much healthier compared to a non-gluten-free diet. Well, I will say that’s totally wrong as they can both be healthy.
And the preceding answers the question, “Is gluten free a healthy diet?” Well, yes. Gluten free can be a healthy diet.
What Exactly Is A Gluten-Free Diet?
Although this question has been briefly answered above, let’s go straight at it. Gluten, as previously stated, is a protein found in wheat and many other grains.
So, a gluten-free diet is free of any food that contains gluten. Simply put, it consists of foods that do not contain gluten, like vegetables, meat, eggs, and fruits.
There are also processed gluten-free foods such as pasta and gluten-free bread.
Gluten can naturally occur in certain foods, and there are some foods where gluten is added during processing for texture.
Gluten can act as a binding agent as well as a flavoring agent. Gluten can be found in everything from soy sauce and ice cream to certain medications, dietary supplements, and beauty products.
You can also find it in foods like pasta, cereal, baked goods, and even pizza. And there’s this wrong belief that gluten-free means not consuming any carbohydrates, which is not true.
There are several foods that contain carbs, like beans, rice, and potatoes, but do not contain gluten.
Why Some People Should Avoid Gluten
People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. However, most people can consume it without experiencing any side effects.
People with other disorders, such as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and wheat allergies, are frequently on a gluten free diet.
This is a health issue in which gluten sets off immune system activity that harms the lining of the small intestine.
This damage gradually prevents the absorption of nutrients from food. So, simply put, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder.
Below will be some symptoms experienced by people with celiac disease:
- Sharp stomach pain
- Skin rashes
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Stomach discomfort
Other symptoms that some people may experience include:
Funny, there are some people with celiac disease who do not experience digestive symptoms, and, celiac disease is even difficult to diagnose because these symptoms are common in many other medical conditions.
This is also another autoimmune disorder in which certain nerve tissues are affected, and it also causes problems with the control of the muscles and voluntary muscle movement.
This is the result of the immune system misreading gluten or some other protein present in wheat as a disease-causing agent like a virus or bacterium. This is also true for other food allergies.
An antibody is then created by the immune system against the protein, which in turn causes an immune system response that may lead to congestion, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms.
Wheat allergies can also cause symptoms like:
- Nasal congestion
- Swelling or irritation of the mouth or throat
- Difficulty breathing
And, in serious cases, wheat allergies can lead to anaphylaxis, which is an allergic reaction that can be deadly.
Although you don’t necessarily need to avoid gluten just because you have wheat allergies, all you need to avoid are certain foods that contain gluten, which include wheat products like pasta, baked goods, and bread.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
This results in some celiac disease-related signs and symptoms. Bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, foggy brain, rash, headache, or constipation are among the signs and symptoms. Although there will be no harm done to the tissues of the small intestines.
As previously stated, the symptoms of NCGS are similar to those of celiac disease, so below are some of them, although some have already been mentioned.
- Changes in bowel movements
- Skin rashes
- Stomach pain
Foods to Avoid when on Gluten-Free Diet
Since the question “Is gluten free a healthy diet?” has been answered and I’ve given you more detailed information about a gluten free diet, let’s look into what you need to avoid if or when you are on a gluten free diet.
The task of completely avoiding gluten can be truly difficult, thanks to the fact that gluten is found in a great number of common ingredients that are added to foods and beverages.
Wheat happens to be the main source of gluten in the diet, so below are some wheat-based products:
- Wheat flour
- Wheat bran
And there are also other sources of gluten, which include:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Triticale, a hybrid crop that combines wheat and rye.
Food Items that may contain Gluten
Below are some items that may have ingredients containing gluten added to them:
All wheat-based pasta
Unless they are labeled gluten-free, most types of cereal contain gluten.
All wheat-based bread
Flavored chips, pretzels, roasted nuts, candy, muesli bars, crackers, and pre-packaged convenience foods
Cookies, muffins, pastries, bread crumbs, and cakes
Beer and some flavored alcoholic beverages
Teriyaki sauce, salad dressings, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, marinades
Couscous, broth (except it is labeled gluten-free), pizza
Final Thoughts: Is Gluten Free A Healthy Diet?
Eating unprocessed, single-ingredient foods is the easiest way to avoid gluten. Or else, you will just need to read the food labels of most foods you purchase.
However, you can go for oats, as they are naturally gluten-free. But they are also frequently contaminated with gluten as they are likely to be produced in the same factory as wheat-based foods.
You need to avoid gluten if you are one of the people with NCGS, celiac disease, and other gluten-related disorders, as it can be dangerous.
There are lots of healthy and tasty options available on a gluten free diet, although it might seem restrictive.
You can meet your nutritional needs and boost your overall health by eating a lot of whole, single-ingredient foods such as vegetables, fruits, and lean protein sources.
Furthermore, a gluten-free diet offers several health benefits, particularly if you suffer from celiac disease or any gluten-related disorders.
You can be relieved of digestive symptoms, enhance your energy levels, reduce inflammation, and even lose weight if you follow a gluten free diet.
So, with all that being said and the detailed answer to the main question, “Is Gluten Free A Healthy Diet?” given, this will be the conclusion of this guide.