The gluten-free diet has become more and more popular in recent years. We’re betting you’ve heard of the term. But what exactly does it meant to eat gluten-free, and what are the benefits of this style of diet?
What does it mean to eat gluten-free?
As the name suggests, a gluten-free diet is one without gluten. Gluten is a protein found in most grains (wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, which is a sort of a cross between wheat and rye). For some people, gluten can trigger serious health problems, especially those with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder. Others have an insensitivity to gluten, so they feel better if they don’t consume it. But even those with no diagnosed aversion to gluten can eat gluten-free if they choose to.
What are the benefits of a gluten-free diet?
A gluten-free diet is essential for someone with Celiac disease because gluten will trigger immune system activity that damages the lining of the small intestine in these individuals. But even for those without this autoimmune disorder, avoiding gluten can have its benefits. Advocates of the diet list weight loss improved gastrointestinal health, and increased athletic performance as some of the upsides. More research is needed in this area to prove these claims, though.
What foods are gluten-free?
Plenty of healthy foods are naturally gluten-free, including fruits and vegetables; low-fat dairy products; beans, seeds, legumes, and nuts; eggs; and non-processed meat, poultry, and fish. And various grains besides wheat, barley, rye, and triticale are gluten-free, too: corn, flax, quinoa, rice, soy, and buckwheat, just to name a few.
What foods aren’t gluten-free?
Unless they’re specifically labeled as gluten-free, a wide variety of foods like pasta, breads, cakes and pies, cookies, French fries, processed meat, soups, gravies and sauces, and much more will need to be avoided. Individuals on a gluten-free diet will need to be vigilant about what they consume in order to avoid consuming gluten by accident.
Try Going Gluten-Free Today
Is gluten-free right for you? Be sure to discuss the pros and cons with your healthcare professional. If you get the all-clear, try some gluten-free foods and see what you think.