How to Maintain a Gluten Free Diet and Still Stay Healthy?
What is Gluten?
Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm (a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour). Gluten both nourishes plant embryos during germination and later affects the elasticity of dough, which in turn affects the chewiness of baked wheat products.
Gluten is actually composed of two different proteins: gliadin (a prolamin protein) and glutenin (a glutelin protein).
Though “true gluten” is sometimes defined as being specific to wheat, gluten is often said to be part of other cereal grains — including rye, barley and various crossbreeds — because these grains also contain protein composites made from prolamins and glutelins.
Why is gluten bad?
Gluten isn’t necessarily bad, but some people are gluten-intolerant, meaning their bodies produce an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten from wheat and related grains during digestion.
The most well-known form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, which affects one in every 141 people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.
When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages their intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients.
Wheat allergy is a rare type of gluten intolerance — it’s a classic food allergy marked by skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal reactions to wheat allergens.
Recently, scientists have become aware of another potential form of intolerance called nonceliac gluten sensitivity.
After consuming gluten, patients with gluten sensitivity may experience many celiac disease symptoms, such as diarrhea, fatigue and joint pain, but don’t appear to have damaged intestines.
In cases of gluten intolerance, doctors typically recommend a gluten-free diet. Patients must avoid eating any foods and ingredients that contains gluten, including bread, beer, french fries, pasta, salad dressing, soy sauce and even some soups (unless otherwise marked as “gluten-free”).
In recent years, many people without gluten intolerance have taken up gluten-free diets.
Experts worry, however, that going on these diets without explicitly needing to could be detrimental to a person’s health, as gluten-free foods are often nutrient-deficient.
So How to Maintain a Gluten Free Diet and Still Stay Healthy?
Just as with any type of diet, a gluten free diet can be as healthy or unhealthy as you make it.
That being said, you should be aware of how to make the best choices to get the very most out of your gluten free diet.
A good multivitamin can be a great idea, no matter what type of diet you eat.
This can help bridge any nutritional gaps in your diet, and keep you as healthy as possible.
If you are not sure what type of multivitamin is best for your needs, contact your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
These professionals should be able to recommend a good option to meet your specific needs.
Stay Away from Junk Food
You should be just as wary of these foods as you would if they contained gluten.
Having dessert occasionally is fine. Eating sweets daily is probably not a good idea.
Think Low Carb
This does not mean that you have to go “carb crazy” and cut them out entirely.
However, sticking to a lower carb diet can be beneficial, when you eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean sources of protein.
Just as with other types of diets, a good exercise program can do wonders for your health, even when on a gluten free diet.
Studies show that even just thirty minutes of brisk exercise per day can be quite beneficial.
A simple walk down the street, a short jog, or a play session in the back yard with your kids can raise your heart rate, burn extra calories, and make you feel better all the way around.
Staying healthy without gluten does not have to be a big mystery.
The same concepts you would incorporate into your life if you were not gluten free, essentially hold true when you are.
Remember to limit refined foods, watch your junk intake, increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat, and get plenty of exercise. It is just that simple.