The gluten free topic has become very sensitive. Either you are a party member of the eye-rolling department when you hear the “gf” buzzword or an associate of the party that feels misunderstood.
However, nothing is just black or white in life. Let’s investigate this topic without judgment. After all both parties want the same thing: doing what we think is best and the healthiest for us.
A. The eye rolling party – Why people are annoyed by the gluten free hype
- Everything is now marketed as gluten free
Every possible product in the supermarket has now a gluten free counterpart. And products that always have been gluten free such as rice crackers, Greek yogurt, juice, nuts and popcorn are marketed as gluten free.
Well, this is how capitalism works. Demand creates supply. Welcome to our world. If it bothers you, try to ignore it.
However, to a small number of people that require a strict gluten-free diet this information is crucial. Remember that nowadays gluten is found in nearly every processed product, from lipstick to salad dressing.
The rest of us should just be happy, that there is labeling that informs us what is or isn’t in products.
- Gluten free products are not healthier
Swapping a box of white wheat flour for a box of white rice flour is not a healthier choice. A lot of gluten free products contain tons of refined sugar, processed fats and chemicals like preservatives, food color or artificial flavor.
Totally true. Again the power of capitalism. The food industry wants to make money – not necessarily create healthy products. So a processed gluten free product lacks as many nutrients as a processed gluten containing product.
- Gluten free ambassadors pretend to have gluten sensitivity
Why does that make you mad? Why bully someone that is standing up and sharing their experience? Everyone just tries their best. The conclusions might not be right but we all make mistakes.
We all want to believe that what we are doing is right. I think we should give kudos for those stepping forward and making an effort to embrace change.
B. The gluten free party – Why people might feel better on a gluten free diet
So let’s investigate and find some understanding why people experience improvements in symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue and trouble concentrating when going on a gluten free diet.
- Gluten antibodies may attack our thyroid not our gut
Some studies suggest that the molecular structure of gluten is similar to the tissue of our thyroid gland. So if we are sensitive to gluten, our immune system produces antibodies that destroy thyroid hormones and the thyroid gland.
Going gluten free can than improve energy, contribute to weight loss, better sleep and balanced emotions.
- We swap simple carbohydrates for foods of higher quality
With a gluten free diet we give up flour-based foods like bread and pasta and might eat foods of higher quality. Flour-based processed foods are the worst sources of carbohydrates and impact our body negatively:
- They influence the blood sugar balance and leave us with low energy and sugar cravings.
- They start fermenting in the stomach if eaten with protein and fat, which contributes to gas, belching and bloating.
- They have tons of calories but no nutrients.
- We are intolerant or sensitive to wheat, rye or barley
You might be surprised what your body can be sensitive to. An IgG antibody blood test gives you insights into your personal world of sensitivities.
However, sensitivities are not allergies but the immune system may have a delayed reaction to triggers, which it then produce symptoms. So it might not be the gluten we are reacting to but other potential allergens and troublemakers in grains.
- Herbicide residue on grains may be killing healthy gut bacteria
A study from 2013 in the journal Entropy proposes that herbicides residue on grains might kill healthy gut bacteria.
The most commonly applied weed killers today are based on glyphosate. Glyphosate kills plants and was thought to be non-toxic to humans because of the different make up of our cells.
The herbicide residue on food we eat may act like an antibiotic. It won’t harm human cells but can kill bacteria.
Gut bacteria are crucial for vitamin synthesizes and proper digestion. If your gut flora is out of balance you experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain and constipation.
Going on a gluten free diet does not automatically mean that it is a more nutritious or balanced diet. Processed gluten free products still contain processed sugar, sodium, preservatives and other artificial ingredients.
However, making gluten free choices can lead to feeling healthier because we reduce other triggers that strain our body, especially our immune system. In that case people are not gluten intolerant but simply think that the improvements are a result of cutting out gluten.
A healthy diet doesn’t come out of a box. A healthy diet contains a balance of fresh vegetables and some fresh fruit, protein, healthy fats and little starchy carbohydrates. Gluten sensitive or not.