Weight Loss Wednesday: Gluten - Good, Bad or Ugly?
Gluten: Good, Bad or Ugly?
Gluten. Gluten. Gluten. It seems like you can’t throw a rock without hitting a food item that boasts that it is gluten-free. The number of individuals claiming a medical necessity for the removal of gluten from their diet has skyrocketed and with it so has the gluten-free food market. Despite this, most conventional diets tell you that whole grains are a healthy part of your daily intake. So where does that leave you, as a health-conscious individual? Likely confused as heck and wondering which way is up, nutritionally speaking. Here’s what we know.
Wheat, the biggest gluten-containing culprit of the grain family, is chock full of B vitamins, iron, fiber and magnesium. Traditionalists argue that completely foregoing wheat and gluten without a specific nutritional plan to compensate may mean consuming a diet lacking in these nutrients. As well, research as shown a diet rich in whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
The BAD: In some individuals, gluten produces an immune response that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash- the main symptoms of celiac’s disease. For these individuals, going gluten-free is not a choice. If you think you have a problem with gluten, get tested, as a blood test is the only way to tell for sure.
The UGLY: recent research suggests that gluten may be linked to a condition called “leaky gut” that leads to foreign molecules making it past the lining of the gut to the blood stream, where they act a bit like allergens. Leaky gut is now thought to be linked conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, depression, schizophrenia, autism, eczema, migraines and a host of other conditions.
The Verdict: Unless you have a clinically diagnosed gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy, the decision to go gluten-free is ultimately still a choice. My advice is to listen to your body. Personally, I feel better when I avoid gluten all together and get most of my carbs from starchy veggies and the occasional root veggie. This being said, I am not everyone. Make the choice that is best for you and if you do choose to go gluten-free, make sure to consume foods rich in B vitamins, Iron and Magnesium such as walnuts, lean beef, dark leafy greens and nuts. Happy Eating!