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What is Gluten? And should you be on a Gluten Free diet?

 I never thought I would be getting inspiration from Deadpool to write a blog...

I never thought I would be getting inspiration from Deadpool to write a blog...

A lot of people associate gluten free diets with a healthy diet. We see it in the shops all the time. Products are advertised as ‘Gluten Free’ and we are put under the assumption that said products must be healthy because they don’t have gluten in them. But when a lot of people are asked, ‘what is Gluten?’, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be getting the right answers. 

So, what the hell is Gluten?
Gluten is a mixture of two proteins which are usually found in wheat, barley and oats (sometimes). Oh, that doesn't sound so bad...

Gluten Sensitivity
Some people have a sensitivity to gluten products which can cause reactions such as constipation, diarrhea and fatigue upon consumption. To truly test gluten intolerance, you would need a blood test and a biopsy of the small intestines. It is possible for some of these people to have a low level of Gluten in their diet. Research is still pretty limited on those who are sensitive to gluten but do not have Coeliac disease. There is a difference.

Coeliac Disease
If you are a coeliac, you have a permanent intolerance to gluten. No one knows what causes the disease but the only solution thus far is to stay away from any products that contain gluten. Research suggests that 1 in 100 people in the UK are affect by this disease. This has opened the doors for a huge market for gluten free products. Which is fantastic if you are a Coeliac… and maybe if you are in the top 1% too! (Check out the bottom of this article HERE for the price differences between gluten and non gluten products)

Why is gluten used in products?
Gluten makes up roughly 10% of the flour you use for making breads/cakes and provides the stretchiness (is that a word?) when the flour is moistened. The percentage depends on whether you are making breads (a higher percentage of gluten) or cakes (lower than 10%). So the right percentage is great for baking.

Is gluten healthy/unhealthy for you?
Having gluten in your diet has no direct affects if you are not sensitive to it.

So is there a benefit in going for gluten-Free products over gluten?
No. Just because the product is labelled ‘Gluten Free’, it does not mean that it is healthy. Sometimes it can be even more unhealthy to go for the gluten free option as found in this consumer report.

 This picture has probably wanted you to eat a muffin more than anything else. Had this been a chocolate chip muffin, I'd probably be on my way to an  Insomnia Cafe to type the rest of this blog.

This picture has probably wanted you to eat a muffin more than anything else. Had this been a chocolate chip muffin, I'd probably be on my way to an  Insomnia Cafe to type the rest of this blog.

Gluten free products have to make up for the lack of gluten to improve texture and flavour which can sometimes mean adding sugar and chemicals into the products. So a gluten free cake is still a cake that’s not good for you. Apologies if I’ve brought on that guilty feeling the next time you reach for a product labelled ‘gluten free’.

By going gluten free for the sake of it, you’re also losing a lot of nutrition benefits such as fibre from your diet. If you a coeliac, there are healthier options to make sure you are getting enough fibre in your diet such as adding beans, coconut, apples, pears, broccoli and kale.

A gluten free diet can be beneficial to you, if done right. And that’s by realising that you do need to replace the lack of fibre you would get from grains. And also that if something is labelled gluten free, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthy for you. A gluten free diet, usually results in a high protein, low carb diet. And for weight loss, I’ve found that it has worked for me and countless others I’ve trained in the past. But you have to keep monitoring what ever approach you decide to take for what works for you.