Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and spelt. It causes digestive problems in people with celiac disease who are unable to process this protein properly. For this group of people, gluten free eating is a lifestyle habit out of necessity.
Then there are other people who may have a diagnosed gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy and may need to avoid gluten to prevent uncomfortable symptoms linked to gluten consumption.
While these two groups of people need to give up gluten based foods due to medical reasons, there is yet another group of people who may wish to stay away from gluten consumption out of choice.
For the most part, this third group does so to adapt a healthier lifestyle, achieve successful weight management or perhaps are looking a way to resolve their problematic skin issues. In any case, there can be a number of reasons for giving up gluten.
Gluten free for medical reasons
Adapting a gluten free lifestyle for celiac patients goes beyond consuming gluten free products. It is in fact, a commitment to a complete lifestyle change where they have zero tolerance for gluten ingestion. If ingested, gluten causes digestive distress such as bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea, constipation and weight loss. Plus, gluten ingestion can also trigger skin rashes and musculoskeletal problems like joint, muscle or bone pain.
Wheat allergies or gluten intolerance/sensitivity in people may also bring about some of these symptoms but to a less severe degree. Some may even be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten without any problem.
Gluten free for non-medical reasons
Giving up gluten willingly is a matter of choice. Here are some reasons to do so:
- Gluten free for weight loss
Gluten free eating makes sense if you want to lose some weight and keep it off. Since consuming grains and breads is often associated with carb intake and extra calories, cutting out gluten can be a way to cut back on calories as and eventually lose some of the extra pounds.
- Gluten free for improved health
A lot of processed foods contain gluten as an ingredient. When you decide to give up or at least limit your intake of processed foods, your overall health will improve naturally.
A gluten free diet promotes eating more fruits and vegetables, eliminating unhealthy oils and fats and basically staying away from processed versions of food that often contain gluten and several other additives, chemicals and artificial flavors. Eliminating processed foods will also benefit your digestive health.
- Gluten free for better skin
Wheat is one of the top allergens in the world, meaning it can trigger some sort of inflammatory response in those with a sensitivity. This inflammation can often present itself on the skin as acne or eczema. That is why skin appears irritated. Cutting out gluten can help with these issues.
Hidden sources of gluten
Gluten can be sneaky as it is not confined to grain products alone. It can also be found in many others such as sauces, seasonings, dressings and ice cream to name a few.
Non-gluten grains include: amaranth, buckwheat, brown or wild rice, millet and quinoa are some examples.