The benefits – and risks – of going gluten-free
It can be sad to say goodbye to your favorite gluten-containing foods. However, it’s not all bad – as well as feeling better, check out these other benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle!
- Going gluten-free means you’ll be cutting out much of the processed junk we’ve all grown used to eating without question. It’s a sad fact that some international food-manufacturing giants fill their products with cheap ingredients and artificial preservatives and additives that are harmful to the human body if eaten for an extended period of time. These include mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrate, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
- People who go gluten-free report feeling more alert and energetic! This may simply be due to better eating habits with healthy foods and less refined carbohydrates or junk food, but who’s complaining?
- As your immune system is no longer under constant attack from gluten, you can work on strengthening it – this means you won’t feel sick anywhere near as often.
- Some studies link gluten to diseases such as obesity, due to its addictive qualities. Put simply, our bodies love gluten and crave more and more. The more you eat, the higher the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity. Cut the gluten and you cut the risk!
However in the interests of balance, it is worth noting that some health professionals argue that going gluten-free can potentially be dangerous for your health and wellbeing, and that retaining gluten in your diet will keep it more balanced.
- Some nutritionists believe that going gluten-free means you are giving up the important vitamins, minerals and nutrients (such as iron, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid and vitamin B) which are found in fortified wheat flours. This belief also stems from the fact that, today, much of the agricultural produce available for purchase lacks the vitamins and minerals it contained only decades ago, due to the way it’s grown or genetically modified.
- (Note: If this is a concern, an easy way to incorporate more nutrients in your diet is to take gluten-free dietary supplements. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.)
- Some nutritionists also argue that a gluten-free diet may encourage bad bacteria to breed in your gut and reduce or destroy the good bacteria found there. Too many bad gut bacteria can indeed be a problem, but it is often a signal that your immune system may be weak, or that you are suffering from bad gut health due to recently taking antibiotics (antibiotics kill both the good and the bad bacteria in the process of making you feel better). Bad eating habits such as too much sugar can also encourage the growth of bad bacteria and Candida.
- (Note: The key is balance – going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Eat sensibly from the food types outlined in the next chapter and you should be fine. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist if you have any questions.)
This post is an excerpt from the cookbook Make Me Gluten-Free… in 30 Minutes!, which is available below!