In recent years, it seems that gluten has become unpleasant in nutrition conversations. Celebrities have tried to avoid it and consumers across the country are guilty of everything from indigestion to weight gain. People are creating such demand, that the gluten-free market reached US $ 2, 6 billion worldwide in 2011 and is expected to exceed US $ 3. 000 million in 2015, according to a 2012 article published by "U. S. News & World Report".
While adopting a gluten-free diet does provide clear benefits for a small percentage of the population, for those who avoid gluten in the diet is a medical requirement, the omission of gluten is not necessary or useful for everyone. However, many people have no idea why gluten can be problematic for the body or if avoiding it is worth the effort.
While adopting a gluten-free diet does provide clear benefits for a small percentage of the population, for those who avoid gluten in the diet is a medical requirement, the omission of gluten is not necessary or useful for everyone.
What is gluten?
Gluten, a protein present in wheat, barley and rye, gives the dough elasticity. It is also used to add protein to low protein foods, such as vegetarian alternatives to meat, and to increase the shelf life and flavor of processed products, such as beer and soy sauce. Although gluten passes harmlessly through healthy bowels, it causes intestinal damage in people with autoimmune celiac disease and digestive upset to people who are gluten intolerant.
"For people with celiac disease, eating gluten-free is the primary treatment, which can eventually eliminate symptoms, if caught early," says Tran Minh-Hai, a dietitian and owner of Mindful Nutrition in Seattle.
One in every 133 Americans has celiac disease, although it is not diagnosed in 85 percent of those who have it, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. It tends to run in families and often coexists with type 1 diabetes, thyroidism and Down syndrome. The range of symptoms of celiac disease is very wide and may include nutritional deficiencies, fatigue, depression, weight loss and confusion. Tran explains that, due to multiple symptoms, it is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed, as it can easily be confused with irritable bowel syndrome or other conditions. And some people with celiac disease do not have any symptoms.
Gluten intolerance is harder to determine, explains Tran, because there are no guidelines for diagnosis and standard treatment.Typical symptoms include gas, bloating and diarrhea. While intolerance to gluten can be temporary and allows a modest intake of gluten, celiac disease is permanent and requires avoiding it altogether.
There are no specific statistics available for non-celiac gluten intolerant, according to a report in the magazine "Forbes" 2011. He said, however, that Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment, As part of the Medicine Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School, he estimated that up to 6 percent of Americans have some level of sensitivity. Tran said that 25 percent of Americans avoid gluten, in most cases unnecessarily, and by doing so they themselves create potential risks, including an unnecessarily restrictive diet and a concern for food.
Diets deficient in healthy foods, such as whole grains, generally lack fiber and B group vitamins. Nutritional deficiencies can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, lack of concentration and exhaustion, while worry by food can trigger stress, anxiety and depression.
When to give it up
If you suspect that you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, your doctor can perform blood tests to determine if you have antibodies, which means problems related to gluten. Your doctor may also analyze a sample of intestinal tissue or perform an endoscopy, a procedure in which a pill-sized chamber is attached to the end of a long, flexible tube that is used to inspect your upper digestive system.
Many people who have left gluten on their own have reported feeling healthier as a result. While this might indicate intolerance to gluten or another condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, it could also be a physiological response to eating more whole foods, those that are unprocessed and unrefined, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. This improvement can also be a placebo effect produced by knowing that they are eating more healthily.
"For many with irritable bowel syndrome, decreasing the intake of grains that contain gluten can help reduce symptoms, not because of gluten but because of the decreased consumption of fructan found in wheat," explains Tran. Fructan is a type of fiber.
If you decide to avoid gluten (ideally with the approval or guidance of a nutritionist or doctor with knowledge of nutrition), you can gradually eliminate it from your diet. If you have celiac disease, however, the sooner you eliminate it, the better, says Tran.
A healthy transition
Five super-healthy gluten-free foods
Many foods are adapted to a gluten-free healthy diet.Emphasizing nutrient-rich elements can help ensure your nutritional well-being, which promotes proper immune and brain function, heart health, energy levels and weight control.
Legumes, which include beans and lentils, are replete with complex carbohydrates, iron and B vitamins, nutrients often lacking in gluten-free diets, says Robyn Goldberg, a dietitian in Beverly Hills, California. Healthy legume-based dishes include lentil soup, three-bean salad and vegetarian chili.
Quinoa contains more protein than other grains, about 8 grams per serving. It also provides valuable amounts of fiber, iron and magnesium, a mineral that promotes healthy bones.
Sweet potatoes are not only rich in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, but also offer plenty of fiber.
Salmon, mackerel, halibut and other cold water fish are the main suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that increase brain function and help reduce inflammation. Make your own marinades with natural herbs and fruit juices. If you buy a marinade or prepared sauce, choose one that is clearly marked as "gluten free". If possible, try to buy fish caught in the wild.
Popcorn is a naturally gluten-free whole grain and a rich source of antioxidants and fiber. They provide a nutritious alternative to processed sandwiches, including gluten-free cookies and crackers. To get particularly healthy popcorn, use a hot air popcorn machine or place a healthy oil, such as rapeseed or olive oil, in your popcorn maker on the burner. Then sprinkle with salt, garlic and other natural seasonings.