Gluten Free Diet: Fad or Necessity

Nowadays, a gluten free diet (GFD) has become a global trend, more and more people claim that they have some gluten related disorders but is it really true that gluten has turned into our enemy??. let’s see the whole picture.

Gluten is a group of protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten acts as glue and hold food together. There are two common forms of gluten; gliadin which gives bread the ability to rise during baking and glutenins, which is responsible for dough’s elasticity.

Who actually need GFD

A gluten- free diet is the only treatment for patients with celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects 1% of the population. The consumption of gluten from wheat or barley causes damage to intestinal villi causing the intestine to become inflamed results in the malabsorption of certain nutrients. Patients with celiac disease experienced symptoms including

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating/cramps
  • Diarrhoea/ constipation
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Extra- intestinal symptoms (Dermatitis, Osteoprosis, Iron deficiency anaemia, and Infertility)

Gluten rich food

Gluten can be found in Wheat, barley, rye, malt,  couscous, kamut, spelt, semolina flour, packaged soups, sauces and condiments. Recent studies have clearly demonstrated that oats are nontoxic for patients with celiac disease; however, contamination of oat products with other prohibited flours during harvesting, milling, or processing of oat products is a concern.

GFD for healthy individuals

There is NO evidence to support that a gluten- free diet leads to weight loss. Some people choose to follow a gluten-free diet merely because it provides structure to eating healthier and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Eating gluten-free often may cause you to eat more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean meats. These diet changes are often healthier and lower in calories, and people may experience healthy weight loss. However, this weight loss can be achieved by simply limiting junk food, eating a balanced diet along with regular physical activity.

Gluten-free does not necessarily mean healthy because all gluten-free foods are not equally nutritious. Gluten- free products can be higher in calories, fats,and sugar in order to compensate for the texture and mouthfeel that gluten provides. A gluten-free diet can results in deficiencies of important nutrients, including B vitamins; folate, iron, thiamin, niacin, fibre, and riboflavin if not properly planned. Whole food bread and cereals are packed with B vitamins. Eating fiber rich foods are important, especially for breakfast, in order to get and maintain normal intestinal and bowel movement. Removing whole grains will add to digestive problems overall, not correct them.  It is possible to get more fibre from brown rice and fruit, which are gluten-free, but a person must be committed to eating enough of these foods on a daily basis to achieve a similar effect of foods rich in fibre like wheat bread and cereals.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

The gluten- free diet is the primary treatment for celiac diseases and may help to improve symptoms in conditions related to gluten sensitivity. There is no evidence that gluten -free diet is an effective weight loss method. Diet and exercise are both important components of weight management and healthy lifestyle.

 

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