Why Go Gluten-Free: Top 4 Reasons
What is Gluten?
Over recent years, people have been going gluten-free left, right and centre! This exclusionary diet has gained huge popularity and the gluten-free industry is booming, but what exactly is gluten anyway?
Gluten is a group of proteins found in cereal grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. This complex provides structural and adhesive support to the food it is within, such as the shape and elasticity of bread. Luckily, not all grains contain gluten.
Why is Gluten an Issue?
Many people experience discomfort after eating gluten-containing products, including bloating, pain, constipation and/or diarrhea. In fact, gluten is the top environmental cause of celiac disease, which is characterized by damage to the small intestine. Even for those without the disease, gluten has been shown to cause intolerance (also known as sensitivity).
Things to Consider Before Going Gluten-Free
Self-diagnosis to gluten intolerance is common, but opting for a gluten-free diet without due consideration is not always a good idea. For example, a few studies have found that people who adhere to a strict gluten-free diet often have low levels of iron, fibre and calcium, nutrients often found in gluten-containing foods. Additionally, one study found it could negatively impact your gut microbiome.
Another reason why cutting out gluten impulsively is not the best idea, is due to the fact that it can interfere with tests for celiac disease. This means that it’s a good idea to get checked by a doctor before you adopt a gluten-free diet.
With all that being said, there are many good reasons why you might choose to go gluten-free. We’ve helped you out by detailing some of them below.
Top 4 Reasons to go Gluten-Free
1. Celiac Disease
About 1 in 250 people are affected by celiac disease! The disease is caused by gluten, which triggers inflammatory and autoimmune responses in the gut. The resulting damage to the lining of the small intestine prevents the body from absorbing essential nutrients.
The symptoms of celiac disease are varied, but include fatigue, joint pain, depression, migraines and even infertility. Some celiacs are even asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t experience any noticeable symptoms at all - although they still face long-term health consequences.
Blood tests and biopsies are both accepted methods of celiac disease diagnosis, but there is only one treatment - a strict gluten-free diet! Even traces of gluten can cause harm, so checking product labels is a must.
2. Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance is a bit of a mystery area. Data is hard to collect, because the majority of people self-diagnose, making it difficult to establish its true prevalence. It is often mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), due to the similar symptoms of pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. In addition, there are currently no biomarkers for the disorder, hence why it’s such a challenge to diagnose gluten intolerance.
After ruling out celiac disease, current diagnoses are formed by gradually excluding food groups from your diet and noting the effects on your symptoms. Whilst adopting a gluten-free diet is recommended for those with gluten intolerance, you do not have to worry about trace amounts, as there is no evidence that gluten damages the gut.
3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The most common gastrointestinal condition, IBS affects as many as 13-20% of Canadians at any given time. The symptoms caused by the disease are most likely due to heightened sensitivity, meaning that the gut overreacts to certain stimuli, including food.
Treatment includes making certain lifestyle changes to decrease stress and altering the patient’s diet. For example, ensuring you eat food that promotes a healthy gut. Surprisingly, studies have shown that for some IBS patients, switching to a gluten-free diet can ease their discomfort.
4. Wheat is Pro-Inflammatory
Inflammation occurs when your body’s immune system responds to a stimulus. If this happens continuously, then it can develop into chronic inflammation. This chronic damage has been linked to many medical conditions, such as cancer, depression and autoimmune diseases. Therefore, it is safe to say that we should avoid foods that trigger inflammation in our guts.
A recent review looked at various in vitro, in vivo and human intervention studies to assess the impact of wheat and other cereal grains on the gut. What it found was that by eating these grains, you can increase the likelihood of chronic inflammation, due to them stimulating a pro-inflammatory immune response. This suggests that maintaining a gluten-free diet will help you to avoid this outcome.
Should I go Gluten-Free?
As you can see, there are many reasons why you might need to go gluten-free, but it’s important to consider what is right for you. If your symptoms are severe then you should always get a check-up with your doctor, before adopting a gluten-free diet.
Once you have ruled out celiac disease, it is ultimately your decision and if removing gluten eases your symptoms then perhaps you should go gluten-free. However, educate yourself thoroughly, eat healthily and be aware of nutritional deficiencies.
Fortunately, there are food products out there that are gluten-free and contain lots of nutrients to boost your health and well-being. Here at Nagi, we are passionate about providing products that are nutritionally balanced AND gluten-free, vegan and organic.
To see the full range of our gluten-free products, check out our collection.