It seems like gluten has become a bad word in the health food industry lately.
I’m always skeptical about products or new diets that gain traction quickly and overrun the market with promises of better health.
Gluten most severely affects those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten actually damages the small intestine.
For example, some of the more well-known symptoms of celiac disease as reported from the CDF include:
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
Before we go any further, I want to show you exactly what gluten is and explain how and why it affects so many people.
What is Gluten?
On a molecular level, gluten is simply a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is like the “glue” that binds foods together so they can maintain their shape.
How Does Gluten Affect Us?
Gluten does not affect everyone.
Having Celiac disease is really the only major cause for concern.
How Can You Tell If You Are Sensitive To Gluten?
I always recommend going in for bloodwork if you think you might be sensitive or intolerant to gluten.
According to Harvard Health, a simple blood test is used to “test for the presence of antibodies against a protein called tissue transglutaminase. A biopsy of the intestine confirms the diagnosis.”
So instead of guessing and spending a small fortune on gluten-free products, it’s best to see your doctor and get tested first.
Gluten-Free for Weight Loss
With trim celebs like Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Gwyneth Paltrow creating gluten-free cookbooks, it can be easy to fall for the idea that simply living gluten-free will help you lose weight.
But I still had a feeling that gluten-free diets were for the minority, not the majority of our population.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, “Many health experts say there is no proven benefit to going gluten-free except for a small sliver of the population whose bodies can’t process the protein.”
So if you haven’t seen your doctor yet, I’d be careful about going completely gluten-free and changing your diet.
The real reason many people think going gluten-free helps with weight loss, is that gluten-free diets automatically restrict the total number of food options people can eat. This causes them to eat fewer calories.
The following foods are considered naturally gluten-free, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Unprocessed beans, seeds, and nuts
- Meats, fish, and poultry (no breading or marinades)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Many dairy products
After doing some research, it’s clear to see that the gluten-free craze is mostly fueled by marketing.