Are you confused about gluten?
Maybe you know someone doing a gluten free diet to lose weight. Should you go gluten free to get healthier? Gluten has become more of a focus with the popularity of gluten free, paleo, primal, and keto diets these days.
Let’s discuss the basics.
Gluten is a protein found in the grains:
This includes any varieties, hybrids, or derivatives of these grains such as:
- Spelt: a wheat variety
- Triticale: a hybrid of wheat and rye
- Malt: made from barley
- Brewer’s yeast: a by-product of beer brewing
- And more.
Gluten free is not a fad diet.
A gluten free diet is absolutely necessary for everyone with celiac disease or gluten ataxia. Even a little bit of gluten triggers the autoimmune response and causes damage.
Think of it this way- If you have an anaphylactic peanut allergy, you cannot eat any foods that have peanuts in them or have been in contact with peanuts.
It’s the same idea when your naturally gluten free cheese is put on the same serving dish with wheat crackers. That cheese is now cross contaminated with wheat (gluten).
Even though the immune system response is different (allergy vs autoimmune), the principle is the same. When cross contamination occurs, a dangerous reaction is triggered (even if other people can’t see it).
Ongoing damage from gluten exposure can lead to serious short- and long-term health problems for people with these autoimmune diseases.
Eliminating or greatly limiting gluten is also beneficial to anyone that has non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, or certain autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory health problems.
If you have a wheat allergy, then you only need to eliminate wheat, not other sources of gluten.
Is gluten free healthier?
Wheat and other gluten-containing grains may be a healthy part of a varied diet for most people.
Going gluten free, if you don’t need to, is not necessarily a healthier choice. There are now countless highly processed gluten free junk foods available. It is wonderful to have the GF food market growing for those of us that need it. However, everyone needs to be mindful about how much of their diet is made up of processed foods.
There is no evidence that going gluten free can help the average person lose weight. Eating more veggies and fruits and fewer refined grains (such as wheat) may help.
Common Sources of Gluten
Many foods are made with gluten-containing grains.
Gluten is often found in bread, pasta, crackers, snack foods, breakfast cereals, baked goods, sauces and gravies, malted beverages (such as malted milkshakes), and beer.
There are also sneaky sources of possible gluten exposure. These are foods that you wouldn’t expect to contain gluten but sometimes do.
For example, French fries are a big one. Many brands coat their factory-cut fries in wheat flour to prevent sticking when packaged. Always, always read your food labels!
It is also important to confirm that the restaurant where you order your fries has a dedicated gluten free fryer. Shared fryers are not safe for people with celiac disease. Cooking gluten free foods in the same oil (or water) as foods made with wheat or other gluten-containing grains results in cross contamination.
Layered Living provides health coaching, educational classes, and seminars about celiac disease, related conditions, and living a delicious gluten free life.
Anderson, J. (2020, October 19). 5 Different Types of Gluten Allergy: Just what is a “gluten allergy” anyway? Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/five-different-types-of-gluten-allergy-562305
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This blog post is general information only and is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.