Gluten has been a hot topic in recent years, with many people deciding to go on a gluten free diet. While only about 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, many others dealing with gluten sensitivity are discovering the benefits of low gluten and gluten free diets.
Gluten is a protein found in plants such as wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Gluten is vital to these plants because it provides nourishment during germination, but it can have negative effects on human gut health and digestion. Gluten causes issues with nutrient breakdown and absorption, and this can lead to constipation, bloating, nausea and abdominal pain. Furthermore, gluten tricks the immune system into attacking the villi lining the small intestine. Villi aid in nutrient absorption, so damage to them further compounds the problem. Other common side effects of gluten intolerance include headache, skin irritation, joint pain and fatigue.
Unfortunately, many food items in the standard American diet contain wheat, and therefore are loaded with gluten. These include pasta, bread, cereal, beer, pastries and pizza. Other common non-wheat products that have added gluten include hot dogs, fried foods and processed yogurt.
Despite the prevalence of these products in the average diet, there are lots of tasty and healthy foods that you can eat instead.
Some of these are:
Note that not all foods that are labeled "gluten free" are necessarily healthy. The food industry has taken advantage of the popularity of the gluten free diet and created many highly processed foods that are technically gluten free, but often contain lots of sugar. Be sure to always examine nutrition labels to make sure you are making healthy choices while shopping.
A gluten free diet improves gut health and can relieve the symptoms mentioned above. Furthermore, a gluten free diet will naturally lower an individual's intake of simple carbohydrates. This aids in combating obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
To learn more about the benefits of a gluten free diet and whether you have a gluten sensitivity, set up an appointment with an SCNM naturopathic physician today by clicking here.