Though some may consider it a “fad”, gluten free cooking has become very popular in the past few years, with a corresponding plethora of gluten free products increasingly lining more and more shelves at grocery stores. But most people are still in the dark with many questions when it comes to the health benefits of a gluten free diet.
Gluten is basically a special type of protein that is found in foods such as cereals, certain grains, and wheat. One of the main purposes of gluten is to maintain the elasticity in foods during the fermentation phase of food production. Gluten puts the chew in “chewy” bread, and prevents other foods from having a sticky, doughy-like texture.
With recent increases in the prevalence of both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease (an illness that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the body’s own tissue and can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility and other more serious health problems), the idea of a gluten free diet has been increasingly researched from every corner of the nutritional spectrum.
A gluten free diet can have a variety of health benefits, such as improving cholesterol levels, promoting digestive health, and increasing energy levels. If you choose to start a gluten free diet, you can actually be eliminating a variety of foods from your diet that are unhealthy. For instance, fried foods would be off limits, because of the breading, and desserts high in sugar and fat would be removed from your diet completely.
Eliminating gluten, and beginning a gluten free diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and other health-related conditions, like diabetes, if you have a gluten intolerance. A gluten free menu can also help your body ward off viruses and germs, just because many of the foods you eat will be full of antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Benefits of Avoiding Processed Foods
Many foods that are processed contain a lot of gluten, which is essentially unhealthy for you.Overly-processed foods are bad for you because they contain chemicals, and artificial flavors. On a gluten free diet plan, you would likely eat more fruits and vegetables, just because it’s one of the few food sources available that is non-starchy, and almost completely gluten free. By eating only gluten free foods, you will also be eliminating unhealthy oils from your diet, as well as unhealthy carbohydrates found in bread products like doughnuts and pastries.
But be cautious: A gluten free diet plan may or may not always be healthy. Most of the items you consume on a gluten free foods list may help promote healthy weight loss, especially if you eat a well-balanced diet that contains essential protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Many of the gluten free foods available are healthy for you, and can also help you lose weight with the right combinations and proportions of other foods. Just keep portion size in mind, and be sure to choose gluten free starches like rice, potatoes, and pasta.
On the other hand, even though one may be cutting out gluten to “detox, there is nothing inherently healthier about a gluten free diet: It can be very healthy, or it can be junk food, as some of the many gluten free products on the market can be quite unhealthy, increasing sugar and fat to simulate the texture and satisfying fluffiness that gluten imparts.
Another thing to watch out for is that gluten free products are less routinely fortified with iron and vitamins B and D than regular (bread) products: Vitamins B and D are the ones particularly at risk of being deficient in (gluten-sensitive) people. If you plan to go gluten free, select more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, and more naturally gluten free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, rather than just buying prepackaged products labeled “gluten free”. However, gluten free foods are evolving and expected to become healthier overall as manufacturers develop ways to fortify them.
Be cautious when it comes to reading labels. There can be a lot of confusion about the gluten free world because many packages are now stating that their product is gluten free; the reality is, they may not be. Pay attention to the label and beware of replacements. There are always going to be replacements for unhealthy foods that contain gluten with other unhealthy gluten-free varieties. Specifically, a lot of high-carb products, like bread, that contain gluten. Just make sure you know the facts.
A Taste of Today’s Gluten Free Menu Experience
Today there is a burgeoning population who has become knowledgeable on what gluten does to the body. While not too many years ago, having a gluten free diet was looked upon as just another fad diet, today’s grocery stores are lining an increasing number of their shelves with gluten free products you will love. You can happily choose from a variety of tasty gluten free food alternatives without sacrificing your taste buds: There are amazing breads, buns, bagels, muffins, cookies and granolas, tempting gluten free desserts, several delicious whole grain bread mixes, pizza crust mixes, oat bran hot cereal mixes and various types of flour. Today’s high quality gluten-free bread mixes are quick, versatile, bake up golden brown, and are easy to make. There are delicious gluten-free cereals, crispy rice bars, frozen waffles and pancake mixes with textures that only can be called exquisite.
Love pasta? Finding the right type of gluten-free pasta used to be one of the most challenging of food forays. But not anymore: there are several delicious types and brands that you will come to crave, readily available at your local grocery store.
Again, remember when dealing with foods allergies, be sure always to read labels.
The gluten free grains and seeds are: quinoa, rice, corn, amaranth, buckwheat, flaxseeds, and millet. In addition, there are many other ingredients used in gluten free products such as potato, arrowroot, sago, sorghum and tapioca. It is important to know what you can and cannot eat. Happily there are many great food manufacturers out there that make a tasty, high-quality product so that we can continue to enjoy the foods we like, ultimately leading us to better health.
For more information about what is gluten free, click below:
Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease
Health benefits of a gluten free diet
Problems associated with gluten-filled processed foods
Delicious whole grain bread mixes,
Gluten free bread mixes
Fluffy gluten free pancake mixes
Gluten free pasta
Happy gluten free eating.