Gluten Free…GF…we’ve all seen this cropping up on menu’s, café signs, loaves of bread, in supermarket shelves and even on packets of…rice?
Being Coeliac for the past decade, I have become very used to ordering gluten free food to ensure that I don’t suffer the pains and unfortunate reactions that coeliac sufferers experience after being ‘glutened’. Over the years, I have noticed many new GF products crop up on supermarket shelves and make their way into our pantries which is great for those whorequire a gluten free diet but unfortunately seem to be becoming a bit of a marketing ploy to sell ‘healthier’ and more expensive products.
The other thing I have noticed is the number of people joining the ranks of gluten free’ers in a bid to achieve better health and people buying gluten free options because they are of the opinion that it is somehow better for you. This post is to clear up this myth and shed some light on the issue of Gluten.
So, what is gluten exactly? Gluten is the protein component of wheat and barley. Just to clarify once and for all, no rice contains gluten. If you see anybody trying to use ‘GF’ as a selling point for rice or a rice dish – they are just trying to charge more for it. It is this protein component that a percentage of the population lacks the correct enzymes to break down and digest effectively. These people suffer from coeliac disease and, if they consume gluten, they will damage the lining of their intestines and decrease their ability to absorb vital nutrients from all the other food they eat. They will also suffer from many symptoms of inflammation and ill health. These people need to avoid gluten at all costs.
Gluten itself is not a problem for the general population and replacing ‘normal’ food items with gluten free versions eg. Bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits…the list is endless, will not put you on the path to better health, it might just help you to lose weight in your wallet. While some people may have seen weight loss results after cutting gluten from their diet, it is likely that this result is actually from cutting breads, pasta,other refined carbs and processed foods from their diet in a bid to be gluten free.
Gluten free packaged food is just as healthy or unhealthy as its wheat based counterpart and will have zero benefit to most people. Despite popular belief, gluten free food will not help you lose weight, increase energy, train better, grow taller or achieve world domination. The only differences between the two options (gluten packet food v gluten free packet food) is the type of flour used – they will still contain sugar, preservatives, potentially unhealthy fats, chemicals and many other foods that should be limited in everyone’s diet.
As always, I strongly recommend that anybody who is concerned about food intolerances seek medical advice and undergo some simple medical tests to determine what food groups , if any, they are intolerant to and should avoid. In cases of genuine allergies and intolerances, cutting out these food groups will clear up a large range of health concerns and decrease the inflammation that will have been previously caused through the consumption of these foods.
For everyone, decreasing inflammation is still the key to achieving optimal health and vitality. To achieve this, I recommend people look in to decreasing their consumption of breads, pasta and refined carbohydrates and increasing vegetables, proteins and healthy fats.
Stay tuned for future articles with some great ideas to help you get your nutrition on track and increase your performance within your training.