While gluten free diets are certainly very popular these days, not everyone who is getting on board with them actually understands their use and how they can benefit them. So let’s look at how gluten free diets should be used and if they actually manage to help the people who use them.
Why Choose Gluten Free?
The purpose of the gluten free diet is to avoid the complications caused by gluten to those who are allergic to it. If you have gluten sensitivity, typically in the form of celiac disease or a gluten allergy, then eating gluten can cause you to suffer a variety of health problems.
For those with the gluten allergy, gluten actually behaves like an irritant in their system, and it is somewhat toxic to them. It causes digestive problems primarily. That’s because the celiac disease damages the tiny villi tissues that aid the body in digesting food. Gluten irritates that tissue and creates numerous health issues.
Specifically, a person suffering from the disease or allergy who eats gluten will experience indigestion, cramping, bloating, bowel irritation, constipation and even skin rashes.
All of these problems, if they are caused by gluten, will start to disappear once the diet is begun. The person undertaking the diet will feel much better and may not even understand why. Many of these symptoms can be minor and almost unnoticeable because they have been a part of the person’s health for such a long time. But changing up the diet and switching to gluten free can make such a difference that the effects can be felt almost immediately.
That’s because the effects of gluten on a person’s body who suffers from celiac disease is also almost instantaneous. These symptoms mentioned above can start as soon as the digestive process begins. Essentially, minutes after you eat something with gluten, your body can start to be negatively affected by it.
Changing up your diet to gluten free foods then purges the toxin from your body and allows your digestive system to return to normal. The irritant can be purged in as little as a few hours, or it may take several days. It all depends on how much gluten you have consumed and how fast the digestive process is working in your body.
Will It Actually Benefit You?
But while gluten free diets are becoming increasingly popular, celiac disease is actually quite rare. The National Institutes of Health estimates that less than one percent of all people have celiac disease or gluten allergies. So foods with gluten won’t affect most people in the same way that it does those with the allergy. But can you still gain some health benefits from switching to gluten free foods?
The answer is not as simple as “yes” or “no”. Yes, you could benefit from eating healthier foods, which many gluten-free foods are. The average gluten free diet consists of rice, corn, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, nuts, fish, seeds, beans, eggs and anything labeled as gluten free. So long as a food is not cooked in flour, certain sauces or breadcrumbs, then it should be generally fine. This cuts out many processed foods, battered and fried foods and other items that contribute to unhealthy weight gain and cardiac diseases.
So in that regard, the gluten free diet can be beneficial for some people who have no gluten sensitivity. But that also cuts down the kinds of foods they could be eating and limits their options. Many people will miss out on essential fiber that also aids in digestion, and they can end up with the exact same problems as gluten would cause in a diet for someone who is sensitive to it.
Those who have no gluten allergy or do not suffer from celiac disease are simply better off just eating healthy. They won’t suffer any direct health problems because of gluten, so they should not be going out of their way to avoid it. If you think that you do have gluten sensitivity, then you should ask your doctor to evaluate you. Otherwise, you could just be restricting your diet and making mealtime harder on yourself than it needs to be.