Gluten-free diets have greatly increased in popularity in recent years, and for good reason! The benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle are many and wide-ranging, so cutting certain foods out of your diet will be worth it in the long-run.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein (technically a mixture of proteins) found in different types of grains and is often used in the production of bread products because it makes the bread more elastic, flexible, and “chewy.” Typically, a gluten-free diet is required by people who have celiac disease because their bodies can not absorb the gluten; however, this diet has become more popular with people who don’t have celiac disease. Some people without this autoimmune condition can still react negatively to eating gluten, and this is referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Research on the effects of gluten on people without celiac disease is still ongoing and developing and is beginning to clearly show the benefits of going gluten-free.
Benefits of a gluten-free diet
Whether you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or just want to improve your general health, a gluten-free diet is a good idea. Going gluten-free will help you to lose weight if you’re overweight, improve mood, increase energy, reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and reduce inflammation.
Interestingly, gluten is the only known edible protein that the human body can not digest (it’s broken down and nutrients are absorbed by villi in the small intestine, except in people with celiac disease), so naturally removing it from your diet will improve your digestive health overall. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease, kicking gluten out of your dietary repertoire will help to alleviate symptoms.
Since you’ll automatically be eliminating a lot of unhealthy foods from your diet by going gluten-free, this lifestyle can lower cholesterol levels. Dr. David Williams admits that a gluten-free diet will reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and ultimately lead to weight loss.
The gluten-free lifestyle will also improve your body’s health by lowering your risk of developing autoimmune diseases because gluten consumption increases inflammation in the body and puts your immune system on high alert. In addition, many foods included in a gluten-free diet contain a lot of antioxidants and minerals which naturally help to ward off germs and viruses.
What to eat and what not to eat
If you go into any supermarket, you will see many gluten-free products. Still, you’ll want to check for replacements, as they can be high in carbs and ultimately unhealthy. Gluten-free is not always low-carb, contrary to popular belief, so just be aware. Luckily, the grains that contain gluten can be replaced with grains that do not contain gluten, such as corn and cornmeal, or sorghum. Although you will have to cut some tasty things like cookies out of your diet, there are still plenty of delicious foods you can eat such as meat, poultry, and fish (so long as they’re not breaded), fruits and vegetables, most dairy products, beans. and many others. All around, the benefits of a gluten-free diet outweigh the lack of cookies and bread!