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Jul 20, 2015



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Everyone is talking about gluten these days. Some people seem to think that gluten should not be in anyone's diet. As many as 30% of people say they are trying to cut gluten from their diet. Is gluten bad for you? Should you eat it? So what is the truth?

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat (and products made from wheat like bread and pasta) and other grains like rye, spelt and barley. 

What is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac (or celiac) disease means that a person can not digest gluten in their intestine. Even the smallest amount of gluten can cause a huge amount of pain and sickness. It is believed that up to 1% of people have coeliac disease and these people must have a gluten free diet.

What is gluten sensitivity?

There is evidence that there are people with gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance (however research is still being done). This means that these people experience some of the symptoms of coeliac disease when they eat gluten. It is thought that about 4% of people may have a gluten sensitivity. Altogether this means there are about 5% of people who should avoid gluten.

The Nocebo Effect

The Nocebo effect is a medically confirmed condition that means that if you believe something will cause you harm then it can (even if it is harmless). There have been a number of studies done that show that people can create an intolerance to a food (such as gluten) simply because they believe it is harmful for them even when it isn't. Unfortunately this caused by information being easily available to more and more people and a recent culture of blaming single foods or food groups for everyones problems.

Should you avoid gluten anyway?

Some diet books have said that everyone should avoid gluten (even if they don't have gluten intolerance or coeliac disease). Your body does not need gluten so it can be taken out of your diet. However, many foods that contain gluten are a good source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body does need. If you do take gluten out of your diet you need to make sure that you are replacing it with a good source of nutrients.

What about gluten free products?

I have spoken before about foods that are labelled healthy when they really aren't. Gluten free products are the same. Just because something is gluten free does not mean it is healthy. In some cases they are full of more sugar, fat and calories than the normal product. So you end up paying more for something that is less healthy. If you do not need gluten free products do not waste your money on them.

What should you do?

If you have a medically diagnosed condition (coeliac disease or gluten intolerance) then you have to follow a gluten free diet. If you think you may suffer from these disease then go and get checked by a medical professional.

However this leaves about 95% of the population who can eat and digest gluten with no problems. There is no reason to cut gluten from your diet. Instead of trying to cut out gluten, concentrate on having a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet instead. You will feel much better if you replace processed, refined foods with whole, nutritious foods than you would by just trying to avoid gluten.


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