I’m a simple man, meaning, I like things to be simple, especially when someone is explaining something to me. I’m going to use this site not only to share awesome food but to share some useful info and simple pragmatic opinions. These days when you are after information you tend to get on google, type in what you’re looking for and either trawl through wikipedia or a bunch of other sites to eventually reach an answer that probably could have been summed up within one or two paragraphs. Well, my mission is to make everything on this site simple, so today I’m going to hopefully do that for you.
There’s a lot of hype around gluten and gluten-free products/diets at the moment so I’m going to give you the simple facts about gluten, what it is, why it affects some people and is it really something that you should avoid, or is it just a trend?
What is gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein found in certain grains, primarily wheat, rye and barley. It got its name from the Latin term ‘gluten’ which mean ‘glue’.
Why does gluten affect some people but not others?
For most people, when we eat food containing gluten, our bodies treat the gluten-food the same as it would as any other type of food (i.e. not a foreign invader). However, in certain people when gluten food is digested, their body detects a threat and sends an alert to their immune system which tells their body to attack the gluten. When this ‘attack’ occurs, it damages the wall of the small intestine which can lead to a range of health problems, a big one being nutrient deficiency (the body’s in-ability to extract the good stuff from foods).
Should you avoid gluten?
If you suffer from gluten sensitivity or have been diagnosed with Coelic/Celiac disease then yes, it is recommended that you avoid foods containing gluten, it’s common sense, I don’t want to be bed-ridden if I don’t have to be, right?
Well what about if you don’t suffer from any symptoms when eating gluten foods?
Let’s clear up the first myth. Being gluten-free isn’t going to help you lose weight, in fact, some gluten-free foods actually contain more sugar than their counterparts. If you don’t have any side affects from eating products that contain gluten, then all that means is that your body is functioning the same as 95% of the world, and that is, that your immune system is not triggered to start attacking your own body.
Is gluten-free just a trend?
Diets and diseases are a big part of our world, always have been and always will be. Companies harness the power of both diet trends and diseases and as the consumer we need to be aware of this and do our own homework. So do I think gluten-free is a trend? I think this, gluten-free is a way of life for sufferers of Coelic/Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, that has opened the flood gates to research and debate. Where you have research and debate, you get mixed messages about what it really is and isn’t, and then from this, there are good and bad advocates that push a whole lot of facts (some of which are unconfirmed) and fears in our face in the hopes of either opening up our minds to health and living (the good guys) or opening up our wallets (the bad guys).
Will eating gluten products make me healthier?
No and no, gluten is really just a neutral substance that is found within certain foods that can help fuel or promote a healthy diet e.g. whole grains (note – eating grains all day is not good either, but I’ll do a post on that in the near future).
My personal opinion is this, if eating gluten foods impacts your health or way of living then yes, avoid it at all costs, however, if you are thinking about going gluten-free because your friend told you that you can lose weight or that it causes cancer, then I would suggest doing some light reading first and if you don’t like reading then give it a go. As I say, if it makes you feel good, do it. If it has a neutral impact on your life, question it. If it makes you feel a whole lot worse, stop it.
For some gluten free recipes see my gluten-free food category.
Hope this helps you with a basic understanding of gluten and gluten-free things! Des