In recent years, gluten-free living has become a worldwide phenomenon. Today, more people than ever are buying, cooking and eating foods devoid of gluten, which is considered to be a main culprit for problems such as unexplained weight gain and fatigue, digestive issues and bloating.
While there may be a vast amount of information available explaining the benefits of the gluten-free diet, the scientific proof behind it is surprisingly minimal. In fact, several health professionals are concerned that gluten is largely misunderstood, and that many people do not even need to cut out this key ingredient.
So if you are interested in the idea of going gluten-free, we advise you to check the following to ensure it is the right lifestyle choice for your health and well-being.
Understand why gluten can be a problem for some people
Gluten – a protein found mainly in wheat – is a sticky, glue-like substance that is hard to digest. There are many different sources of gluten, and people with sensitivity to this protein will react in different ways depending on the type of wheat they eat. Eating commercially produced, over processed products, for example, tends to cause more bloating than the consumption of organic, whole grain bread.
In some cases, sensitivity to certain foods may indicate a wheat intolerance rather than a gluten intolerance. If you can eat grains such as barley and rye without a reaction, this may apply to you. On the other hand, if you have signs of coeliac disease, it is very likely that you will need to consider eating a gluten-free diet.
Be aware of how your body responds to gluten
Everyone is different and will respond to gluten differently. Pinpointing your exact reaction to gluten and how it makes you feel health-wise is essential for choosing a diet that works best for you.
Many people can eat wheat but afterwards tend to feel a lot of discomfort and bloating. Therefore they may prefer to keep their wheat consumption to a minimum.
The following symptoms are key to look out for which may indicate signs of food intolerance – particularly to gluten:
- increased tiredness
- feeling unmotivated
- emotional sensitivity
- constant cravings for sugary foods and carbohydrates
Keep a food journal
Keeping track of what you eat and how you feel afterwards can be valuable for identifying what foods work for you. This can also be useful if you choose to see a professional, such as a nutritionist who will look at your notes to find patterns in what you ate and felt. If gluten is significantly affecting your health and well-being, a nutritionist can help you to adapt your diet so it incorporates healthy gluten-free options.