In recent years, the gluten-free diet has become increasingly popular. But if you don’t have gluten intolerances or celiac disease, is it really good for you?
How the gluten-free diet became so popularThe gluten-free craze began in 2018, when it was reported that the entire menu at the Golden Globes was gluten-free. Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Jessica Alba avoid foods that contain gluten due to sensitivities, whilst Lady Gaga is also known to have dropped gluten from her diet in 2011.1
And whilst the stars promote the health benefits of going gluten-free, we’ve explored how the diet impacts your body and whether you should consider giving it a go.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in many popular foods such as bread, pasta, and wholegrains. If you don’t have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity it isn’t harmful. In fact, gluten-containing whole grains, such as bulgur and barley, are rich in fibre and vitamins, which are essential to promoting good health.Yet for people who do live with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it can be harmful. When ingested, gluten can cause a reaction which damages the lining of the small intestine, which prevents the body from absorbing key nutrients, leading to a number of symptoms, including abdominal pain, headaches, anaemia, and depression.2
Should I avoid gluten?
For people who aren't fighting gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten is not a health necessity, however many people who experience symptoms are unaware of the cause.In fact, as many as 83% of people with celiac disease don’t know they have it. This means that foods like bread, bagels, pasta, pretzels, cookies, cakes, and crackers are making them sick, and they have no idea why.3
If you experience bloating, headaches, abdominal cramps, or nausea after eating, try keeping track of the foods your consuming and the symptoms in diary. If you see a correlation between gluten intake and unpleasant symptoms, you may want to consider cutting it out of your diet and monitoring any changes.
Are there health benefits to going gluten free?Research published in 2017 in the Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology suggested that gluten may cause intestinal symptoms, even in people without celiac disease. These include altered gut function and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).4
If you are considering going gluten-free, whilst it may seem like you’re missing out on some of your favourite foods, there are a number of health benefits to be reaped.
By cutting back on gluten, it may encourage you to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, leading to a healthier way of living. Swapping a sandwich for a salad could definitely help if you’re trying to lose weight.
Many people say that they lose weight, feel less fatigued, and have less joint pain on a gluten-free diet. It’s likely that these benefits are attributed to the exclusion of unhealthy foods.
Last updated: 10 June 2020