Nowadays, gluten-free is the biggest thing on everyone’s lips.
People are paying extra to buy products without the ingredient, and every bakery or café is promoting their sale of gluten-free treats.
And while it is definitely great news for those who have an intolerance, Coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin condition), those who don’t are missing out on some pretty important benefits.
So what is gluten, and where can I find it?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It can also be found in whole grains related to wheat.
And while it doesn't offer any nutritional benefits itself, the whole grains that contain gluten do.
In fact, those who opt for a gluten-free diet can miss out on the following nutritional benefits:
1. Protein: wheat gluten flour is rich in protein while a 4oz serving of seitan contains HALF your recommended daily intake of protein.
2. Iron: many people don’t know that gluten is rich in iron, although how much your body absorbs depends on how you are eating the ingredient. In fact, iron deficiency is a factor for those prescribed a gluten-free diet.
3. Fibre and B vitamins: Especially gluten-rich whole grains.
All of these play a part in helping to lower the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
When SHOULD you say goodbye to gluten?
Anyone experiencing dizziness, headaches, or problems with coordination after eating foods containing gluten may be suffering from a gluten-intolerance, which can cause inflammation in the body.
However, you should always talk to your GP before you eliminate gluten from your diet as it is much harder to get a diagnosis if you stop eating it.
In fact, unless you have been advised to give it up, you will only be limiting your source of carbohydrates and reducing your intake of whole grains.
And, unfortunately, not all foods being marketed gluten-free are healthy; some are high in saturated fat, calories and contain little in the way of nutrition.