A couple of days ago my brother bought me a package of gluten-free muesli…
Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). It is the ingredient that gives dough its elasticity.
Since I got it, I started wondering: what exactly gluten-free diet means. I see it everywhere: gluten-free muffins, bread, pizza, breakfast cereal, crackers, buns. It seems gluten is to 2014 what carbs were to the diet conscious ten years ago. You can also easily say that gluten-free sales are a rapidly growing segment of the food market in Ireland. So is it just another marketing ploy or perhaps I can really improve my intestinal health?
I know people who tout not only the digestive benefits of living without gluten but the weight loss advantage it offers too. Others credit a gluten-free diet with improving all sorts of conditions including autism?!
There is no doubt about it that gluten is a major concern for many. For people who has Coeliac Disease (In Ireland 1 in 100 people may have coeliac disease. Source: Coeliac Society of Ireland, 2012), a condition whereby gluten causes serious damage to the intestines, a gluten-free diet can be life saving. For majority though it seems to be a choice, a fashionable trend.
Let’s say that I decide to go gluten-free. Does it mean that I can eliminate gluten simply by removing breads from my diet? Well…the answer is no. The fact is that gluten is in many processed food products, so going to a gluten-free lifestyle often means eating much less processed food and cooking from scratch more often. I read that it can be a real shock to go to a gluten-free diet overnight, and many people are struggling with this transition.
Ok, but what about those processed, so self-called gluten-free products? I read a few “gluten-free”labels and trust me, it is definitely not the ticket to good health. It looks that many producers add in gluten-like additives like soy lecithin which can cause as much harm as gluten itself. And it’s not only strange-sounding ingredients that are common in gluten-free products. It blows my mind that there can be so much sugar and fat!
So, to be truly gluten free, is it enough just to avoid foods that contain gluten? Unfortunately not. Some over the counter medication may have gluten in them. There are even certain types of lipsticks that use a high concentration of gluten.
What I’ve learnt in recent days is that gluten comes in various forms, manifestations and combinations. And perhaps if we are not coeliacs, we might simply begin drinking more water to naturally detox our bodies, eat salads with lean protein, and fresh fruits and veggies…that’s my plan anyway :)
If you’ve gone gluten-free, please share your story with me. How long have you been gluten-free? I really would like to hear from you.