The Benefits of a Gluten-free Diet
If you are a celiac sufferer, the benefits of going gluten-free are obvious. You get to alleviate some serious side effects to gluten including saving the lining of your small intestine from being under constant attack. Gas, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea is side effects of gluten intolerance, as well.
If you are not a celiac sufferer, but instead are seeking the benefits of going gluten-free for the simple reason that it is the talk of town, you can still find many benefits from this change in diet. They include, but are not limited to:
- Mental clarity may be a benefit. After removing gluten from their diets, many individuals report having more mental clarity. These individuals say that after months or years of “being in a fog” that the fog dissipates for them after being on a gluten-free diet. They also suggest that their memory loss and forgetfulness seem improves.
- Fatigue seems to decrease. Consumers of a gluten-free diet may find that his or her issues with sleep will improve once they remove gluten from their dietary intake. A better night’s sleep and feeling less drowsy during the day may be good enough reasons for the sleep deprived to give the gluten-free lifestyle a try.
- Maintaining weight is a desired goal. Losing weight and maintaining the weight loss is a desired goal for millions of people. Many people report that they were finally able to lose weight and keep it off after they changed their diet to be gluten-free.
- Gluten could be life threatening. While mental clarity, fatigue and weight loss are all good reasons to give this diet a try, if you have celiac disease, going gluten-free can save your life.
For celiac suffers, even a tiny amount may have an adverse effect on the body. It can cause iron deficiency and anemia as well as Osteoporosis. Gluten can also set off a very serious reaction for some folks, including anaphylactic shock which can be fatal.
While many other individuals praise the fact that they are on gluten-free diets and tout benefits such as an overall feeling of well-being, energy increase, and alertness, none of these attributes have been conclusive in persons with only a small sensitivity to gluten.
For all of the good that a gluten-free diet does, it isn’t without its faults.
The Downfalls of a Gluten-free Lifestyle
Whole grains and wheat products have been a staple for the human diet for ages, and with good reason. By opting for a gluten-free lifestyle you might be unnecessarily eliminating vital nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Four such nutrients include:
Niacin – Niacin helps to keep your skin, hair and eyes healthy. It assists with maintaining a healthy nervous and digestive system. Niacin also helps convert carbohydrate into energy which is important if part of your goal for a gluten-free diet is to lose weight.
Iron – Iron has so many important jobs in our body. It carries oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide from them. It helps produce energy and hormones. Iron even plays a role in fighting against infections.
Vitamin B – Vitamin B has many parts and each part provides its own set of benefits. Generally speaking vitamin B is instrumental in maintaining a healthy immune & nervous system.
Zinc – Zinc may not be something you think about often, but its job is as important as any other nutrient. Zinc assists our immune system with responding to threats. It also plays a role in brain function and reproduction.
If you choose to seek out a gluten-free diet, you should consult with your primary care doctor before taking on this new lifestyle. In addition, you should be prepared to take a daily supplement to make up for any lost nutrients.
Nutrients may not be the only thing lacking in a gluten-free diet. Many people complain about the lack of variety available and taste in gluten-free foods. Gluten-free products definitely have a distinct taste and once you have eaten a certain variety of pasta for several years, you may never get used to the gluten-free kind.
Cost is another downside to this diet. Gluten-free products are very costly. Although you may be able to find gluten-free products on the shelves of supermarkets, they will still typically be expensive, especially while gluten-free continues to be the ‘in fad’ in the eyes of consumers.
Be prepared to become a label reading guru if you choose to go gluten-free. Gluten is found in many unsuspecting foods such as spaghetti sauce, soy sauce, and in some packaged products, as well. You will need to extremely wary of labels and plan to spend extra time shopping, at least in the beginning stages, if you are going totally gluten-free.
Cooking at home is less expensive than purchasing prepared products; however, this can be time consuming and cumbersome. You can certainly buy gluten-free pancake mixes, muffin mixes, cake mixes, and bread mixes, but be prepared for a little bit of mess and some extra time involved in preparing your own gluten-free menus, especially if you start from scratch.
Dining out, eating at another person’s home and vacationing can all be extremely difficult while trying to maintain the gluten-free lifestyle. You will need to make certain that your wait staff, hotel staff, and hosts are all aware of your lifestyle choices. If they won’t indulge you, you may have to skip the event or prepare your own meal ahead of time and take it with you.