In the last several years, there has been an increasing number of health trends showing up on social media and in grocery stores, and many individuals are jumping on board. Things such as gluten free, low carb, and the ketogenic diet are all examples of lifestyle choices that you may have noticed occurring with increasing popularity. But just because they are becoming more mainstream, doesn’t mean they are right for everyone, nor does it mean that everyone should adopt them.
Celiac vs. Gluten Free
Celiac disease is a genetically influenced disease, whereby individuals mount an immune response to the gluten protein. When an individual who has celiac disease consumes gluten, the body sees the gluten as a foreign invader and attacks the small intestine. This damages the villi on the lining of the small intestine. These villi are necessary for absorption of nutrients, digestion, and movement of food through the digestive tract and when they are attacked, they become damaged and cannot perform these tasks adequately.
For individuals who suffer from celiac disease, the consumption of gluten can be a life-threatening issue and going gluten free isn’t simply a choice, it is a necessity. Those individuals who choose to go gluten free however, and who aren’t celiac, do not have an autoimmune disorder which forces the elimination of gluten. Indeed, many people feel better when off gluten, but it raises the question: is it the gluten, or is it the grain?
Gluten vs. Grains
In ancient times, grains were a rich source of nutrients, contributing essential B vitamins, magnesium and Vitamin K, not to mention offering a high intake of fibre. Today’s grains and wheat however – even the whole grain option – have been processed and industrialized, stripping them of much of their nutrient value in an effort to grow grains that are uniform and consistent across the market to produce products that are the same. In other words, our grains are no longer that natural, and the gluten content of the grain may not be the issue as much as the grain itself.
Indeed, many people find that when they consume ancient grains, such as spelt, rye, amaranth, and buckwheat, or grains that have been fermented (i.e. sourdough), they do not experience any negative side effects. Furthermore, often individuals opting to go gluten free find they can make bread themselves and feel fine, but not purchase it in the store.
While it can be beneficial to try going gluten free if you have gut issues, and is undoubtedly advisable in certain health conditions, assuming gluten is the enemy and you will be healthier, lose weight and feel better when it is eliminated is not the case. In fact, many people who go gluten free and opt for all the gluten free alternatives, end up gaining weight and feeling no different because gluten-free items contain increased amounts of salt, sugar, and fat to compensate for the gluten absence.
Before you assume that gluten free is the only way, experiment with other grain options or making your own grain products. And of course, you can always sign up for your subscription meal service with Savor Living, and we’ll make all the grain alternatives for you!