In recent years, gluten-free diets have been the newest and hottest trend in weight loss. But what exactly is gluten, and is it good to have a diet free of it? Before you decide to hop on the bandwagon, you can find all you need to know about gluten-free diets right here.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in barley, wheat, rye, contaminated oats, and foods made with them. Many products that contain gluten are responsible for supplying the body with essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, and fiber. Some studies have shown that the inclusion of whole grain foods into one’s diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. So, if gluten – or at least many foods that contain gluten – is beneficial, why has there been such a gluten backlash as of late?
The Gluten-Free Trend
Traditionally, only people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease eliminated gluten from their diet. Celiac disease is a condition where the autoimmune system reacts abnormally to gluten intake, and it’s a problem that affects 1% of Americans. In the case of celiac disease, as well as with gluten sensitivity, individuals eliminate gluten from the diet because their bodies react negatively from its consumption, often causing headaches, gastrointestinal problems, sluggishness, and brain fog.
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But today, where the popularization of a gluten-free diet has been propagated by celebrity culture and media, who claim that the exclusion of gluten from one’s diet can shrink waist lines and improve overall health, even people with no adverse reactions to gluten have chosen to follow a diet free of the stuff. This assumption regarding gluten likely stems from the fact that many high-fat, high-calorie, or “junk” foods contain gluten; fried foods, cookies, cake, pasta, dressings, and some chips and candy are a few examples of this. Because gluten is found in these items, some individuals have chosen to exclude all foods containing gluten rather than only those that are high-fat or high-calorie. Others associate gluten-free foods with other “free” foods, like sodium-free or fat-free, and automatically assume that gluten is bad.
The Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
A gluten-free diet is a lifesaver for the