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What Is Gluten-Free?

by Charles Weller August 21, 2014

What Is Gluten-Free?

Popular or Just Plain Healthier?

The words Gluten-free seem to have become more popular, whether browsing through the aisle at the grocery store, looking over the menu at restaurants, or selecting which protein supplement you’ll be using for your smoothies! More often these gluten-free items are more expensive, and if you didn’t know already, you might wonder what exactly is gluten-free?

The term gluten-free means that the food item excludes the gluten protein. A gluten-free diet is one that has been used to treat celiac disease (an auto-immune disease in the small intestine) and is followed by people that are gluten-intolerant.  Intestinal damage and allergic reactions can occur when they eat foods that have gluten.  Some people are gluten-sensitive, and although they might not experience intestinal damage when eating food with gluten, they will have symptoms such as gas, bloating, and indigestion.

It is also common for people to simply improve their diets by opting for gluten-free foods that tend to be healthier alternatives. Gluten-free diets avoid food and menu items that might contain grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. There are also many naturally gluten-free grains and starches to avoid simply because they might include gluten from cross contamination that occurs during processing.  Following a gluten-free diet can be pretty tricky, but is much easier to follow when selecting the most natural, fresh food items.

Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

The benefits of following a more gluten-free diet, even if you don’t have intolerance or celiac disease, are reached simply by eliminating a lot of processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugar, additives, and preservatives. These are items like bread, crackers, pastries, pasta, and cereals. A healthy and well-balanced gluten-free diet is based on natural foods.  The same is true for any diet actually, so to achieve the benefits of adopting a more gluten-free diet, one must include more natural foods.

Simply replacing processed foods with gluten-free processed foods is not the best solution. Also, it is important to note that grains include a wide range of important nutrients that your body needs, such as vitamin B, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Eliminating all grains might lead to a deficiency in those nutrients. Other foods high in these nutrients and even supplements can be used to maintain the necessary levels.  Or, for those that are looking to improve their diets or have a low sensitivity level, there are healthy grains that should be considered even they contain gluten.

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Charles Weller

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