Living Gluten Free
Gluten intolerance is estimated to affect only 1% of the population, yet around 5% of the population are on a total or partly gluten free diet.
The number of people choosing a gluten free lifestyle is on the rise and the growing number of gluten free food choices at their disposal in restaurants and cafes, and on supermarket shelves and in recipe books is a testament to this.
For those people who have been diagnosed with coeliac disease (spelt celiac in the USA) changing to a gluten free diet is a necessity to avoid short term symptoms and long term health damage.
But what about the other 4% of the population, why do they choose to go gluten free and is it the right thing to do?
Why some people choose to go gluten free
There is a raft of reasons why people might choose to restrict or totally avoid foods containing gluten. Among these are:
- They generally feel better without gluten in their diet
- They believe that a gluten free diet is generally healthier
- They believe gluten makes them feel bloated
- They believe that gluten makes them put on weight or prevents them from losing weight
- They believe they have more energy when they avoid foods containing gluten
- They believe avoiding food with gluten reduces sugar cravings
What do the experts say?
Like most things in life, the experts seem to be divided about whether a gluten free diet is appropriate for people who are not medically diagnosed with coeliac disease.
I’ve read numerous accounts of naturopaths and others who believe that everyone would benefit from a diet that restricts or totally eliminates gluten.
I’ve also read numerous accounts from dietitians, nutritionists and others who suggest that eliminating gluten from your diet if you don’t have intolerance to gluten isn’t necessarily healthier and could even lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Significantly for those people who want to lose weight and are on a weight loss diet, avoiding gluten may lead to weight gain, rather than weight loss, as some studies appear to suggest.
Recent surveys suggest that as many as one in three Americans are trying to avoid or cut back on their gluten intake and as many as fifty percent of them believe that a gluten free diet is healthier than a regular diet.
Australia tend to be follow or be very similar to the US in many respects, especially those related to diets, so we wouldn’t be at all surprised if surveys here achieved similar results.
For those people who have coeliac disease, 75% of whom are estimated to be undiagnosed, moving to a gluten free diet may be the only option they have for managing their symptoms and avoiding longer term health issues associated with this disease.
For the rest of us, the choice is really ours.
Regardless, it is important that if we do choose to go gluten free, that we are correctly diagnosed if that choice is for medical reasons or we get the right advice from professionals like dietitians if it’s for lifestyle reasons.
For most of us, the traditional approach to a healthy diet of “moderation in everything” rather than the total elimination of some things is usually the best approach.
If you would like to include more gluten free choices in your diet, you may be interested in our range of gluten free recipes.
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For more information on coeliac disease:
Read our Gluten Free Foods and Coeliac Disease article or visit:
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy
Celiac Disease Foundation
This article was written by Scott Haywood.
Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.
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