Pros and cons of gluten-free diet are many. But let’s first know about gluten and its impacts on our health.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, oat and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
It is present in many kinds of foods. It acts as glue in foods and holds food particles together. Gluten gives the elastic nature of dough in food and has the ability to rise bread. It gives chewy and fluffy texture like in bread.
How is consumption of gluten for your health?
Gluten is just fine for most of the people as they consume it regularly like in wheat or in other foods.
The people having Gluten sensitivity should also not consume it. Other conditions in which gluten should be avoided are dermatisis, herpetiformis and gluten intolerance.
A little about celiac disease
It is a disease in which the body treats gluten as an attack on it as a foreign particle and also as an attack on its immune system.
In this process, the wall of the gut is also damaged and it results in abnormal functioning of body and various diseases in body like nutrient deficiency, digestive track problems etc.
Its symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, depression, tiredness, nausea, decreased appetite.
Long-term symptoms of celiac disease include hair loss, missed menstrual periods, fatigue, joint pain, easy bruising, and itchy skin.
What is gluten-free diet?
The people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity eat gluten-free diet. There are many natural and processed foods available that are gluten-free.
Natural foods which are gluten-free include:
- Rice ( brown, black, red)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Beans, nuts
- Fresh eggs
Besides the foods that are mentioned above, there are also many other natural foods that are gluten-free.
What is gluten-free processed food?
Many processed foods are also available in market that are gluten-free. These include many things like jelly, nuts, juice, ketchup, cookies, pastries, chips etc.
One should consume natural foods that are gluten-free rather than processed one as they after all have the adverse impacts of processing.
The gluten-free food industry of the world has grown 136% from 2013 to 2015 with almost $12 billion sales in 2015.
The people who do not have celiac disease tend to purchase more gluten-free foods as compared to those who are in need of these foods.
According to a survey in July 2015 in America, 21 % of Americans tend to buy or eat gluten-free diet whereas only 1 % of the American population is diagnosed with celiac disease.
Pros and cons of gluten-free diet
Gluten-free diet has many health benefits that include:
- Improved cholesterol level in the body
- Better digestive health
- Beside this the energy levels is also increased in body of individuals who can’t afford gluten in their body
- Reduced risk of heart diseases
- Helps in healthy weight loss. The people can lose weight more quickly by eating gluten-free food
- Lessens the risk of cancers and diabetes
- Eating gluten-free food helps us eat healthy by choosing selective foods
- Elimination of unhealthy food from diet
- It is beneficial for people having IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome)
- Eating to food rich in antioxidants and minerals
- Remove unhealthy oils and unhealthy carbohydrates from our food such as those which found in pastries
- It imparts awareness about foods that which foods are healthy for our body and which are not
Cons of gluten-free diet
It is to be noted that a food that is labelled as gluten-free shouldn’t be necessarily healthy for our body.
Many food items that are labelled as gluten-free are as unhealthy as gluten containing food. It can be unhealthy in many ways:
- Gluten-free products can have high amount of calories and carbohydrates.
- There may be high amount of sugar or salt in gluten-free foods to improve their taste
- Gluten-free foods can also be high in fats and these foods cause excessive weight gain and obesity in body as they may be higher in calories
- Gluten-free food have less nutritional value
- Such food may lack many nutrients required by body like fibre, iron, zinc, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, vitamin B12 and phosphorus
- Consuming diet free of gluten has les amount of whole grain than required by the body so it has negative effect on our body
- Eating gluten-free food by a healthy person can lead to metabolic syndrome, neuropsychiatric symptoms or cardiovascular risk
- One can skip healthy or a balanced nutrition by eating only gluten-free diet
- There is not any health benefit of this kind of diet to healthy individuals
- A study from researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, found that gluten-free products were 242% more expensive than similar products which contained gluten. The products were up to 455% more expensive in some cases.
Only natural gluten-free foods can be helpful for body and not the highly processed food available in market that can have negative effects on our body.
A gluten-free diet is not a healthy option for people unless they are suffering from celiac disease, dermatisis herpetiformis, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity.
Only people with these conditions should use gluten-free diet and not the normal human beings as there is no need of eating such diet to a normal human being.