Ask Jess + Health & Lifestyle + Nutrition Advice + Nutritious Foods

Is a Gluten-Free Diet Really the Healthiest Option?

14 July 2020
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Hi angels!

There is so much noise and “facts” in the health industry. It can get super difficult to know what’s true and what isn’t! Over the coming weeks, I want to talk through some of the myths in the industry, and share the truth behind what marketing messages want you to believe!

Many people believe that adopting a gluten-free diet is really beneficial for their health… Even if they have no sensitivity or intolerance to gluten. So let’s dive into whether this is true or not…

What is gluten?

Gluten refers to a group of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Each type of grain contains a different amount of gluten and other proteins. 

Eating a gluten-free diet

Many people have started to go for gluten-free options when it comes to choosing breads, pastas, cereals and other foods. 

Why? A gluten-free diet has become popular thanks to social media and food marketing, with many people and brands promoting various health benefits of avoiding gluten. 

Is it really beneficial?

Completely eliminating gluten is beneficial for people with coeliac disease and gluten intolerance (where the consumption of gluten can cause short-term bloating and abdominal pain). However, people without these diagnosed conditions who have adopted a gluten-free diet due to its perceived health benefits may experience negative consequences from going gluten-free. 

What you may not know

  • Many gluten-free foods are not nutrient-enriched. They may be deficient in dietary fibre, iron and B Vitamins such as folate, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. 
  • Many gluten-free packaged foods contain higher levels of saturated and trans fats and salt than their gluten-containing counterparts, to help them taste better.
  • A gluten-free diet requires serious commitment, as it is somewhat restrictive. The stress involved in maintaining this diet may have a negative impact on your emotional health.
  • Strictly avoiding gluten with the intention of improving your health may encourage an obsessive or negative relationship with food. 
  • Avoiding gluten for a period of time due to potential health benefits may actually create a sensitivity to the protein when you finally re-introduce gluten containing foods.

So what’s the alternative?

It’s super important to incorporate good sources of whole grains into your diet. Think sourdoughs, rye, seed breads, oats, brown rice and spelt! These whole grains contain plenty of fibre, to keep your gut happy and healthy, and your digestion strong and regular. They also have a bunch of B Vitamins in them, which are great for energy and supporting your nervous system.

Complex carbohydrate sources like these are a really important source of energy for your brain. People usually feel much better on these sources of carbs, instead of refined carbohydrates like white breads, sugars and white pasta.

I recommend having a serve of these complex carbohydrates with each meal, so you feel energised and at your best!

 

Bottom line, if you don’t need to avoid gluten for health reasons, it’s perfectly healthy to include in your diet as part of a balanced lifestyle!

For more health advice, nutrition tips and 24/7 access to our team of nutritionists, try the JSHealth App today!

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