Millions of people have decided to eliminate gluten from their lives. First of all, we give up on bread, pasta, wheat flours and we end up eating all the foods that contain it. Is it, however, a right decision? Are gluten-free foods good for you?
Gluten-free foods have become very popular since celiac disease, a chronic digestive disorder, began to be talked about on the internet and other media. There are many, however, who are attracted to this “world” even though they are not celiacs.
Unfortunately, fashion is leading us to embark on a new diet based on gluten-free foods that can cause damage to health. If you are convinced supporters, we offer you some useful food for thought.
Do you have difficulty digesting gluten?
First of all, let’s clarify the meaning of two words.
- Celiac disease : permanent intolerance to gluten.
- Gluten : protein complex present in cereals such as wheat, barley, rye and all their derivatives. It can also be used in the industrial preparation of a large number of foods, due to its elasticity and softness.
According to the 2016 annual report of the Ministry of Health to the Parliament, celiac disease affects about 1% of the Italian population. This prevalence is similar in almost all countries of the world.
It is a permanent inflammatory disease that can cause damage to the gastric mucosa by hindering the absorption of all nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins).
Gluten-free foods: some figures
According to a BBC article, 70 million Americans have banned this protein from their diets. In the UK, on the other hand, 7% of adults avoid it for reasons of intolerance and allergies and a further 8% choose to buy gluten-free foods because they are in line with a healthier lifestyle.
Also in the UK, 60% of adults have bought gluten-free products and in one in 10 households there is one member who believes that gluten is bad for you.
According to Nielsen data released by AIC (Italian Celiac Association), there are about 6 million Italians who literally waste 100 million euros a year to follow the gluten free current. Even in Italy one in 10 people consider this diet healthier or ideal for weight loss.
However, merging into “gluten free” fashion just to lose weight is a big mistake, especially when the decision is not motivated by any analysis or specialist visit.
The pitfall lies in the fact that gluten-free foods that replace wheat or barley normally contain a higher amount of sugar and trans fats. These elements are the real enemies of health when consumed in excess.
This is why you risk gaining weight when you improvise a gluten-free diet without having the proper preparation. It is therefore important to be followed by a specialist.
Why exclude gluten from the diet?
A study conducted at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, states that there are no scientific reasons why a person without celiac disease should follow a gluten-free diet. On the contrary, according to Gonzalo Casino, head of the research, it is a negative diet for health, because it eliminates the fiber contained in wheat and other cereals.
Gluten is important for our body because it prevents cardiovascular disease and reduces the risk of some cancers and type 2 diabetes. Banning it from the diet can also cause intestinal disorders and respiratory diseases.
Beware of fashions
It cannot be denied that gluten is present in most fast-food products and, of course, excluding the latter type of food is a healthy choice. However, it is not just a question of eliminating this protein, but of reducing the consumption of refined flours, sugars and unhealthy fats.
The expansion of the gluten-free market, which is worth 320 million euros in Italy, is reinforcing the belief that this protein is dangerous.
If you want to lose weight, but don’t suffer from gluten intolerance, you should consider the consequences of this decision on your health. The alternatives that allow to reach the goal in a healthy way are numerous.