Gluten is found in many grains like rye, barley and wheat. Gluten is a protein and foods made gluten free are low in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Going gluten free or cutting back or even avoiding it altogether for no reason is considered by many nutritionists unhealthy, if not done very carefully.
Gluten acts as a glue in many foods such as pasta cereal and bread, it helps them hold their shape. Gluten can be found in other products such as lip balm and the glue on envelopes and stamps.
It is estimated around 1 in 133 people in America suffer from celiac disease. Celiac disease is caused by eating gluten, it triggers an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine.
In other words their body overreacts to the protein and causes damage to their villi. Villi are small projections found along the wall of the small intestine.
When these villi are damaged the intestine can not absorb food nutrients. Eventually this can lead to malnourishment as well as loss of bone density, anemia, weight loss and other diseases.
Celiac disease is a serious condition if left untreated. The only effective treatment for this disease is a strict lifelong avoidance of gluten.
Avoiding the foods that contain this protein even in the smallest amount is not an easy task. Imagine no more processed meats, french fries, cakes, pies, candies, canned soup and even beer all contain gluten.
In fact all food not labelled gluten free should be read carefully. Some foods are naturally gluten free such as vegetables, fruit, fresh meat, eggs, fish and poultry as long as they have no coating.
The majority of dairy foods are gluten free and some starches such as corn, flax, rice, buckwheat, soy and arrowroot. You should be careful that they have not been processed with other grains.
While following a gluten free diet 10 or 15 years ago was a challenge today things are a lot different. Grocery stores are now well stocked with plenty of gluten free products.
According to a survey almost 30% of adults in America are reducing their intake of gluten. Yet outside the of celiac disease there is no reason or evidence that it is bad for you.
In fact research over the last few years finds no beneficial health benefits to a gluten free diet without being diagnosed with celiac disease and has found no nutritional benefits either.
So while going gluten free for most people is a personal choice it is completely unnecessary health wise.