Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
More and more people are now avoiding gluten and as a result the sale of gluten free food is also on the rise. So are there any benefits of going gluten free? Let’s take a look…
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains like rye, wheat and barley. Gluten is also regularly hidden in a majority of processed foods such as low fat and fat-free products, refined grains (pizza, pasta, spaghetti, bread, biscuits, cakes and pastries), soups, sauces, sweets and various ready-made foods.
About 1 in 100 people have celiac disease.
For individuals with celiac disease, the consumption of gluten triggers an immune response that damages the microvilli of the small intestine, disrupting their digestion and preventing the absorption of nutrients.
A study published in 2008 in the Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology Journal stated that celiac disease is a disorder caused by the ingestion of gluten and this causes inflammation (1).
People with celiac disease would benefit from a gluten free diet. A majority of people without celiac disease are also deciding from a lifestyle perspective to adopt a gluten free diet.
So what are the benefits of gluten free?
Here are 3 benefits of gluten free…
1) Gluten free can help you lose weight
Helping you lose weight is one of the benefits of gluten free. Majority of refined carbohydrates such as bread, pizza, pasta, spaghetti, pastries etc. contain gluten. When you consume these refined carbohydrates, it causes a quick rise in your blood sugar level.
This sugar is stored in your liver and muscles and the rest is stored as fat. Constantly eating these refined foods will keep your blood sugar level elevated, causing you to store more fat.
A study published in 2005 in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that there was a link between eating refined carbohydrates and being overweight. The study also found that overweight individuals were more prone to eating excess refined carbohydrates (2) .
The type of carbohydrate you eat is important.
Good carbohydrates such as vegetables and some fruit will not cause a quick rise in your blood sugar, preventing you from storing fat but bear in mind that it is important to eat more vegetables and less fruit.
2) Gluten free can help keep your brain healthy
Helping to keep your brain healthy is one of the benefits of gluten free. Foods that contain gluten promote inflammation.
Chronic inflammation anywhere in your body can cause destruction on your brain.
A research published in the Oxford Journals suggested that food proteins like gluten contain opiod peptides that may go from your gut to your brain and cause symptoms of various brain disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease (3).
3) Gluten free can help to keep your thyroid glands healthy
Helping to keep your thyroid glands healthy is one of the benefits of gluten free. The structure of gliadin, the protein part of gluten is strongly similar to that of your thyroid gland. When you eat foods containing gluten, gliadin triggers an immune response that causes damage to the lining of your small intestine and disrupts your digestion. The antibodies also cause your immune system to attack your thyroid glands.
A study published in the Hepatogastroenterology Journal found a link between thyroid disease and gluten intolerance, it stated that if you have an autoimmune thyroid disease and you consume foods with gluten, your immune system attacks your thyroid glands (4).
There are numerous benefits to going gluten free but it is important to bear in mind that, because a food is labelled gluten free, it does not automatically make it healthy.
You should still always read the labels of gluten free foods.
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1. Quaka-Kchaou A, Ennaifer R, elloumi H, Gargouri D, Hefaiedh R, KochIef A, Romani M, Kharrat J, Ghorbel A (2008) Autoimmune Diseases in Coeliac Disease: Effect of Gluten Exposure. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 1: 169-172 PUBMED.
2. Ma Y, Olendzki B, Chiriboga D, Hebert J R, Li Y, Li W, Campbell M, Gendreau K, Ockene I S (2005) Association between Dietary Carbohydrates and Body Weight. American Journal of Epidemiology, 161: 359-367. OXFORD JOURNALS.
3. Dohan F C (1988) Genetic Hypothesis of Idiopathic Schizophrenia: Its Exorphin Connection. Oxford Journals Schizophreniabulletin, 14: 489-494.
4. Akcay M N, Akcay G (2003) The presence of the antigliadin antibodies in autoimmune thyroid disease. Hepatogastroenterology, 50 Suppl2:cclxxix-ccixxx