Your friends are going Gluten Free. Should You?

If you are in the 1% of the population that has Coeliac Disease, then yes, you should. If you’re not a Coeliac…then you probably don’t need to go gluten free!

What is Gluten Anyway?

No, it’s not an evil additive that should cause us to run a hundred miles, it’s simply a protein. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape and can be compared to a glue-like protein. It’s in foods such as pasta, bread and cereals such as barley and rye. Doesn’t sound too scary, right?

But ‘Gluten Free’ products are healthier yes?

Just because a product says it’s ‘Gluten free’, does not mean it’s healthier than its Gluten containing alternative. For one, sometimes when Gluten is removed out of a product, they add in something such as an industrial style binder like Xanthan gum, which in recent years has been linked with respiratory problems. Also, most processed junk foods are Gluten free, have a little think about that!

Coeliac Disease

This is an autoimmune condition in which the Coeliac’s gut reacts when they come into contact with Gluten, either after having consumed it or if the Gluten is airborne, which causes chronic inflammation.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, severe abdominal bloating and vomiting to name just a few. Failure to manage the disease leads to Malnutrition, Osteoporosis, Infertility and Anaemia. This is a serious disease, which requires a complete avoidance of Gluten.

Non- Coeliac gluten sensitivity can also be found in some people, and sufferers may also need to avoid or reduce Gluten.

However due to it being ‘fashionable’ to avoid Gluten, people mis self-diagnosing, or unqualified ‘professionals’ mis interpreting symptoms and their other possible causes, a huge percentage of people who avoid Gluten do not need to.

So, unless you have been professionally diagnosed as a Coeliac or as having Non-Coeliac Gluten sensitivity, avoiding Gluten is redundant.

But ‘Gluten Free’ products are healthier yes?

Just because a product says it’s ‘Gluten free’, does not mean it’s healthier than its Gluten containing alternative. For one, sometimes when Gluten is removed out of a product, they add in something such as an industrial style binder like Xanthan gum, which in recent years has been linked with respiratory problems. Also, most processed junk foods are Gluten free, have a little think about that!

Gluten Tips
  • If in doubt, see your GP – If you suffer symptoms such as abdominal cramping and vomiting after you have a Gluten containing food, go speak to your GP to investigate if you have a Gluten related issue. Then, come speak to our Expert Nutritionists and learn how to thrive on a Gluten free diet.
  • Wholegrains – If you do not have Coeliac disease, avoid cutting out wholegrains. Eating wholegrains regularly reduces the risk of Heart disease, Type Two diabetes and Stroke, by up to 30%.
  • Eat a varied, balanced diet – As boring as this advice sounds, this is the only healthy, one size fits all diet.
  • Weight Loss – Gluten free diets will not make you lose weight. The only way to lose weight is to be in a caloric deficit. Avoiding Gluten is not the way to go for weight loss. If you want to see how many calories your body needs to lose weight, try out our Diet Tool.

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Katie Kavanagh

Katie Kavanagh

Katie is a registered Associate Nutritionist with the UKVRN through the Association for Nutrition. Katie completed her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Health in Glasgow Caledonian University and her Bachelors Degree in UCD in Health and Performance Science. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked in a kitchen catering company, and for Our Lady’s Hospice Harolds Cross and is heavily involved with UCD Boxing Club. Her areas of interest are Vegetarian diets, disease prevention and Sports Nutrition.

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