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Gluten - What is it, and should I avoid it?

The CSIRO Healthy Diet Score 2016 report revealed that 12.1% of Australians eat gluten-free, however many of us would struggle to define what gluten even is.

In summary, Gluten is a family of proteins, glutenin and gliadin, found in grains such as wheat, spelt, rye and barley. These two proteins make for a sticky, web-like material that aerates your food (e.g. making your bread fluffy instead of dense) but causes small bowel damage to those with Coeliac Disease. The immune systems of those with this condition react abnormally to gluten, causing the lining of the bowel to inflame and flatten, impacting gut health and nutrient absorption.

With 12.1% of Australians adhering to gluten-free diets, but only 1% of the population being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, we can see that many have made the personal choice to eliminate foods containing gluten from their diet without a medical diagnosis. If you’re unsure of whether eating gluten free is right for you, it may be worth considering the following points:

Pros to eating Gluten Free

Better gut health

Many claim that eating large volumes of gluten leads them to bloating, cramping and/or diarrhea, and completely eliminating gluten eliminates the chance of poor gut health.

Help with weight loss

Foods that contain the most gluten, such as breads, pastas, cakes, are typically high-carb. Avoiding such foods could therefore assist with weight-loss.

Gluten free options continue to improve

The choice and availability of gluten free eating options is continuing to improve, with many menus highlighting what is and isn’t gluten free.

Cons to easting gluten free

High sugar

Many ‘gluten free’ foods contain sugar and additives to help improve the taste of the product.

Cost 

Gluten free products are often expensive, due to being 242% more costly to manufacture than products with less strict guidelines.

Be wary of the valuable nutrients that are found in foods that commonly contain gluten, such as fibre, and ensure that your gluten free diet includes these nutrients.

Lack of variety

Although gluten free catering is becoming more accessible, gluten free dishes at restaurants are often hard to come by, or dull in comparison to the rest of the menu options.

Yikes, no beer

You’ll have to give up beer.

Before making drastic changes to your diet, consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

 

dietary restrictions guide

References

Medical News Today

News.com.au

Three Bakers

SBS

Women's Running