Gluten: Goodie or Garbage?
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. It's responsible for the light, airy, risen structure of bread, cakes and other baked foods. It’s also the thing which helps us turn flours into loads of different foods from pastries to pasta. And therefore, the nature of the beast makes gluten an easy target as these foods can be high-calorie and highly processed.
But why has gluten got such a bad rep?
Many in the fitness and nutrition industry claim gluten is ‘evil’ and boast benefits of a gluten free diet including boosted energy levels, faster weight-loss, clear skin and the cure of all your ailments.
There is no published scientific research showing any evidence of these claims associated with a gluten free diet.
With so many of us wanting a quick-fix health solution the British have grabbed at going gluten free. And yes, cutting down on high calorie, highly processed gluten containing products will undoubtedly aid weight-loss and improve your health. But it’s not the gluten that’s doing that.
The gluten free product market has grown massively but these gluten-free products have no specific health benefits for individuals without coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. Not only that, but they are often more expensive, more processed and often contain more fat, sugar and salt – all things we should be reducing!
Not only could you be getting more of this bad stuff, there's also less of the good stuff. By cutting out a whole food group you are potentially at risk of multiple nutritional deficiencies such as fibre, vitamins and minerals, which are packed into wholegrain products.
In short, a gluten-free diet does not equal a healthier diet. If you think gluten is a no-go for you, your diet can still be well-balanced, but ideally seek professional dietetic advice to be sure you are getting all the nutrients you need!
If you’re not intolerant, resist those gluten-free labels, health claims and ‘evil’ cries, choose good and simple, healthy options and save yourself a shed load of cash.
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