People ask me all the time about gluten and what the hype is really all about. Gluten is a term used for the proteins found in wheat. Gluten helps them hold their shape, acting like a glue.
Wheat is not simply “wheat” as you may think of it. Wheat includes:
- wheat berries
- triticale – a cross between wheat and rye
Wheat, or some variation of wheat, is found in many foods that you may not expect. Below are some examples:
- baked goods
Studies show that gluten is a major cause of autoimmune disease, digestive & gut health issues, mood disorders, weight issues & many more disruptive disorders.
Gluten is known for it’s connection to celiac’s disease. Celiac’s require strict avoidance of all gluten. But, it is not safe to assume if you do not have celiac’s disease, you are not at risk for the negative effects associated with gluten. There are also other proteins present in wheat that can be harmful to people. The inflammation caused by gluten, or other wheat proteins, in the gut can cause a cascading effect on one’s immunity, as a result of the impaired gut lining.
So what’s the deal with gluten & what does it mean to you? The deal is that it has become a “fad” in the eyes of the food industry. When something becomes a trigger word, or a marketing opportunity, the food companies are all over it. They use it as their next big chance to sell to the consumer a bunch of health claims that support eliminating this new villain that is gluten.
In that process, they replace the gluten, or wheat substance, with a bunch of other junk and fake ingredients. Commonly, various glue like substances typically identified as “gum” of some sort on the label to give the product it’s shape. So now you have processed sugary trash that is now gluten free trash.
Gluten free foods are filled with other stuff like sugar, preservatives, coloring, additives, processed oils and other substances to increase shelf life and to make it stick. So eating gluten free bread and gluten free cake is still eating bread and cake. In actuality, it can be even worse because the highly processed gluten free flours can often cause an even higher sugar spike in the body.
The more claims on a label of the product being healthy, the more likely it is bad for you. Now you start to see things on the shelves that are naturally gluten free, but putting it on the label attracts the consumer.
The food companies have created oodles of fake food substances that trick our bodies and brains to feel hungry. Don’t wait another 30 years to find out “gluten free” processed foods were actually bad for you. It took that long for us to see the outcome of the “fat free” and “low fat” diet fad. Where are we as a result? In the middle of an obesity and diabetes epidemic!
Unfortunately, people take these recommendations to remove gluten from their diets as a free pass to buy into the health claims of the junk food. They think gluten free = healthy. This is simply not the case.
What it means to be gluten free in a nutshell is to eliminate anything with wheat flour, but not replace it with other flours. Eating a whole grain like rice or quinoa is different from eating a highly refined & processed rice flour or quinoa flour. These flours act like sugar in the body. Stick to the whole grain!
When you eat real food, avoiding gluten is not as difficult as it may seem. Naturally gluten free foods include:
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and seafood
- Beans, legumes, and nuts
As a consumer, it is important that we understand – what you see is not always what you get. You HAVE to be educated on labels, if you are going to be eating foods with labels now and then.
- Look for ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Look for ingredients that you wouldn’t have at home to use in a recipe.
- Look for anything over 5 ingredients.
- Look at the first ingredients and make sure they are the best quality as they go in order of abundance.
Finally, cooking is a necessity in life. Cooking at home and avoiding the constant need for convenience is going to bring you back to knowing what’s in your food. You’ll ultimately save money on quality food today. Otherwise, you’ll spend it later on healthcare.
Gluten free may be considered a “fad”, but it is a very real problematic food choice. Getting rid of gluten from your diet will improve digestion and likely prevent future gut issues. The brilliant side effect is you will lose weight, IF you are choosing whole, real foods.