What is the hype with gluten-free, isn't it just for coeliacs? No! Here's why you need to eat less gluten in the pursuit of optimal health.
What is Coeliac Disease?
Coeliac disease, also known as just coeliac, is a serious autoimmune condition in which the small intestine cannot digest gluten.
Gluten is a protein which is found naturally in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It is also added to many processed foods such as bread, pastries and cakes - thanks to its functional properties as an ingredient.
If a person has coeliac disease, eating food containing gluten triggers an autoimmune response in which the body attacks its own cells. This causes digestive symptoms such as wind, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
In the long-term, eating gluten with coeliac disease can damage the gut wall and cause wider problems such as Leaky Gut Syndrome and nutrient malabsorption.
Coeliac disease is often confused with gluten, wheat and grain intolerance - but in fact these are very different things. You can learn more about the difference between gluten-free, grain-free and wheat-free in our article below.
Benefits of a gluten-free diet - for everyone!
Choosing to minimise or reduce your intake of gluten can have a great impact on your health and wellness. This is not only due to removing gluten itself, but also thanks to the knock on effect of reducing your intake of grains.
Let's take a look at some of the health benefits of removing gluten from the diet - even if you're not coeliac.
- Manage a gluten intolerance or sensitivity
Coeliac disease is thought to affect around 1% of the UK population - whereas experts believe that up to a third of us have some form of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). This is a gluten sensitivity or intolerance which causes an allergic reaction to gluten, rather than an autoimmune reaction.
As NCGS affects so many of us, this means that common complaints such as bloating, weight gain, digestive discomfort, skin breakouts and brain fog could all be exacerbated or even caused by a diet containing gluten.
The symptoms of gluten sensitivity may be less severe compared with coeliac, but they can be just as debilitating. Removing gluten from the diet can help to tackle the root cause of these symptoms and stop them from manifesting in the first place.
- Minimise your intake of processed foods
Processed gluten (especially from wheat) has become the most common way for Westerners to consume it - in products such as bread, pasta, cereal, crisps and junk food.
Minimising your intake of processed foods will not only lower your gluten intake, but also your intake of non-nutritive ingredients often also found in processed foods - such as other grains, vegetable oils, added sugars, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
This can in turn lower inflammation and reduce the risk of many chronic health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity and the associated metabolic syndrome.
- Promote weight loss
As gluten is most commonly consumed within processed foods, it is no surprise that a gluten-free diet is often synonymous with weight loss.
Cutting out foods in which gluten is most often found - cakes, pastries, bread, crisps, pasta, cereals, beer, junk food etc - removes many energy-dense, high calorie food products.
Replacing these foods with those which are lower in carbs is a great way to promote weight loss.
- Stay naturally energised and fight fatigue
Following a gluten-free diet can have the same naturally energising benefits as a Low Carb or Keto diet.
Reducing your intake of food which contains gluten will naturally reduce your carbohydrate intake, provided you are not eating a diet high in other grains which don't contain gluten.
This encourages the body to use fat stores for energy, whilst also regulating blood sugars to provide a natural, steady and sustainable release of energy - rather than an energy spike which is quickly followed by a slump.
Side effects and risks of a gluten-free diet
Choosing to follow a gluten-free diet has several health benefits and is undoubtedly better for overall wellness than a diet high in gluten or grains.
However, due to then nature of a gluten-free diet, it is restrictive of certain food groups and could be triggering for certain people. As with all diets, you should proceed with caution if you have a history of disordered eating or obsessive eating behaviours.
Finally, you should always remember that gluten-free does not always equal healthy! There are heaps of heavily processed gluten-free alternatives which are just as bad for us as their gluten-containing counterparts.
Choosing natural, whole foods which are minimally processed is always best - not matter your diet or lifestyle.
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.