Gluten is an indigestible wheat protein which passes along our intestinal tract without being absorbed, on consumption of wheat & wheat products. In some, gluten causes an immune reaction which damages the intestinal cells resulting in inflammation of the intestinal tract, giving rise to what is called as celiac disease. Hence, going gluten free is the only way for such people, which minimizes symptoms as well as facilitates recovery of the damaged cells.
Gluten free diet involves avoiding cereals such as rye, barley, wheat, semolina, refined flour and other food products prepared from flours made from any of the above cereal grains, or their hybrid strains. However, following a gluten-free diet to alleviate the symptoms of celiac disease is a thing of the past. Gluten-free diet is nowadays followed on a large scale by people since they have found to enhance their digestive health.
Foods which can be Included In a Gluten Free Diet
Excluding all wheat & wheat products can be challenging initially since the normal diet has majorly comprised of wheat. However, after exploring various other gluten free food options & cooking alternatives, going gluten free becomes quite convenient to follow.
The list of foods which can be included are amaranth, arrowroot, rice, soya, whole corn & cornmeal, tapioca, potato, sorghum, beans & pulses, lentils, milk & milk products, and all fruits & vegetables. Often, those who experience gluten intolerance may or may not have intolerance to milk & milk products. So, in that case, milk & milk products may also need to be avoided.
However, the main focus of following a gluten-free diet is to increase the amount of fibre rich fruits, vegetables & whole grains and minimize the intake of processed foods, since most processed foods are prepared mainly using wheat.
Probable Claims Of Benefits of Gluten Free Diet
People worldwide have been suffering from what is called as “gluten sensitivity” which denotes the absence of overt celiac disease. Excluding gluten from diets was found to improve their GI symptoms, which were not characteristic of clinical celiac disease. However, the health claims of following a gluten-free diet have not necessarily been proven based on scientific studies.
One such claim is that following gluten free diets helps reduce weight or aids in weight loss. This claim is highly contextual since replacing gluten containing foods with high calorie, gluten free foods may not help in losing weight.
Another claim is of increased energy levels on going gluten free. However, adopting a well balanced diet pattern of fruits & vegetables naturally helps in improving energy levels, not by necessarily eliminating gluten. No scientific studies back this gluten free claim.
Exercise Caution While Following Gluten Free
Going gluten free without medical supervision or without the help of a health professional can cause several nutrient deficiencies. Hence, consulting a physician for his opinion about any fad diets is a must.