Why everyone is so paranoid about going gluten free - and should you be?
Do you really need to go gluten-free? Here are the facts. learn more about coeliac disease and going gluten-free.
Gluten. The once harmless protein found in wheat and other grains has now become a word synonymous with dirty, unclean, or fattening foods. But why are we making it our new dietary enemy - and is it necessary?
Bread, cakes, Easter eggs, chicken nuggets: the global gluten-free foods market is estimated to reach a whopping 7.59 billion USD by 2020, growing the fastest in Europe. Some restaurants have a no gluten allowed policy. You can even go on a GF holiday.
Once, these gluten-less foods were a necessity for the 1-in-100 people with coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder that virtually destroys the intestinal tract when gluten is present. The disease leads to malabsorption of nutrients, increasing the risk of osteoporosis, infertility and even cancers. Sometimes, cutting it out doesn’t stop the problems for people with coeliac disease: between two to five percent of coeliacs have a refractory coeliac disease, where the gut is so damaged by gluten that it no longer responds to gluten-free diet alone.
But humans have been consuming gluten for hundreds of years. Gluten is made up of two protein groups - gliadin and glutenin. When flour and water are combined these proteins come together to make a sticky dough. Now, however, a GF diet has become a “healthy” lifestyle choice for many - to lose weight, reduce fatigue and bloating, and even cure autism - based on very little evidence and a tonne of media coverage.
Medical professor at Harvard, Dr Daniel A. Leffler, advises against a GF diet if you’re not coeliac or intolerant. He says: “People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice. They’ll simply waste their money because these products are expensive.”
5 stages of going gluten-free properly:
1.Book an appointment with your GP.
Tell them your symptoms and request a blood test. When it's present they will check the severity of your antibodies. If there is an indication that these are raised, your doctor will book you in. You'll have an endoscopy to examine your intestinal tract.
2. Do not stop eating gluten until tested.
If there really is an intolerance or coeliac disease cutting out gluten will not be detected on medical tests.
3. Medical diagnostic and personal research.
Learn which foods you can and can’t eat, not just bread, pasta and pizza. Other hidden sources can be found in everything from stock cubes to lipstick.
4. A gluten-free environment.
Gluten is sticky - which means any pots, pans and baking trays that you’ve cooked or baked within the past need replacing with fresh ones. All the gluten-free kitchenware should be cleaned with a separate scourer. Unless washing is done with a dishwasher.
5. Family, friends, housemates and colleagues.
As discussed, people are confused about this subject. Actual intolerance or disease can get mixed up in the health fad. Share and clarify information so that people know how to proceed. For instance, know how to keep GF food away from other food to avoid cross-contamination. No using your butter for gluten-filled toast, or using the same drainer for your GF pasta and normal pasta. Even the smallest crumb can cause a reaction in a coeliac.
Uncover more Nutrition tips here.