A healthy diet is a combination of various macronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Following a healthy diet keeps you fit for years and protects you from multiple diseases and deficiencies. There are different types of diets you would have heard about ranging from keto, gluten-free, vegetarian or non-vegetarian diets. All these diets are designed in a manner that focuses on a specific goal. Therefore, we must study the different diet plans and pick the right one depending on our purpose.
A gluten-free diet is a food combination in which we exclude all gluten-containing ingredients. Gluten is a structural combination of prolamin and glutenin proteins primarily found in grains such as wheat or rye. According to research, foods high in gluten may trigger celiac disease. Celiac is a chronic immune disorder which damages the small intestine. This disease affects nutrient absorption by the body causing serious health complications in the long run.
A gluten-free diet can help you prevent contracting the disease. Along with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet can heal the damages caused to the small intestine.
Why is Gluten Bad For Some People?
Most of us ingest gluten in our diets since most cereals contain some amount of it. It is safe to say that gluten suits most of us as we enjoy products that contain gluten without experiencing any side effects. However, some people cannot tolerate even a small presence of it because they suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. Some people with wheat allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity try avoiding gluten-containing foods. Let us discuss two significant reasons why gluten is bad for some people.
Celiac disease is uncommon. The chances of you having Celiac disease is scarce. Research says that only 1.4% of the world population suffers from Celiac disease. It is an immune reaction to gluten-containing foods like wheat, barley and rye. If one with celiac disease doesn’t avoid gluten, they are at the risk of inflammation damage and small intestinal lines. It may also lead to medical complications and reduce the absorption of nutrients from foods. Symptoms include diarrhoea, bloating, wind fatigue and low blood count(anaemia) following an intake of food that contains gluten.
The natural treatment for celiac disease is following a strict gluten-free diet. However, one is yet to find a complete cure.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition in which a person cannot digest gluten. It is an intestinal symptom that causes indigestion of gluten-containing foods. It does not target celiac disease or any gluten allergy or wheat allergy. The primary method to treat this condition is to follow an ATI diet (amylase/trypsin inhibitors) or a gluten-free diet. Symptoms of NCGS are bloating, constipation, stomach pain, fatigue, and headaches on gluten consumption.
Health Benefits of Gluten-Free Diet
A gluten-free diet has many health benefits, especially in treating digestive problems. Here are some significant benefits of adopting a gluten-free diet.
May Relieve Digestive Symptoms
Following a gluten-free diet can fix digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhoea, gas, fatigue or constipation. Studies have shown that a gluten-free diet helps treat celiac disease or other digestive issues. In addition, it has other digestive impacts like increased BMI, reduced adiposity gain, and reduced risk of digestive-associated complications.
People with Celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity may suffer from some chronic inflammation in the intestine. Chronic inflammation may lead to other health problems as well. A gluten-free diet reduces chronic inflammation, especially for celiac disease patients. There was also a bit of improvement against inflammation in non-celiac gluten sensitivity patients. However, it is still unclear if a gluten-free diet also ultimately helps to cure non-celiac inflammation.
May Boost Energy
People with celiac disease often feel weary and dizzy due to poor food and nutrient absorption. Automatically, when you switch to a gluten-free diet, your digestion of food will improve along with the elimination of any vitamin deficiencies that you may have. In addition, it will automatically boost your energy.
Helps You Lose Weight
It is common for your body to drop weight when adopting a gluten-free diet. This is because you avoid fast food and high-calorie gluten products. These foods get replaced by gluten-free fruits and vegetables.
The HealthifyMe Note:
There are various health advantages of a gluten-free diet. For example, it helps improve digestion and relieves symptoms like bloating, diarrhoea, gas, etc. Also, it helps reduce inflammation, aids in weight loss and boosts energy.
There are many gluten-free diet options available on the internet. Most try to follow those plans. However, creating your diet plan is easy by including gluten-free products in your meals based on your preference. Below are a few gluten-free food items commonly present in a gluten-free diet.
- Meats and Fish- Meats and fish contain high protein and healthy fats. Approximately all meats and fish are gluten-free except battered or coated meats.
- Eggs- A strong source of protein, vitamin D and zinc, eggs are gluten-free and low in carbohydrates.
- Dairy- Plain dairy products like plain milk, plain cheese or unflavoured yoghurt contain no gluten. These are a rich source of vitamin B and calcium.
- Fruits and Vegetables- All fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Try to consume green leafy veggies as they are high in the overall nutritional index.
- Grains- Although all grains are not gluten-free, some like- corn, millet, amaranth, oats, buckwheat, rice, and quinoa belong to the gluten-free category.
- Starch or flour- Some starch-containing foods and vegetables like potatoes, corn, corn flour, or soy flour are gluten-free foods.
- Oils and spreads- All oils and some kinds of butter, including nuts and seeds, are gluten-free. However, they are high in calories, so it is better to consume them moderately.
- Herbs and spices- Spices like turkey and organic seasonings are all gluten-free so you can enjoy a spicy taste in your gluten-free diet.
- Beverages- Most beverages and drinks are gluten-free except for a few beers.
Diet Other Than Gluten-Free Diet
We have discussed gluten diets so far. However, there are other diet plans also which have their benefits. It isn’t easy to compare a gluten-free diet and other diets given that the other diets can also be gluten-free. For example, one who wants to lose weight and has no medical condition can also go for a gluten-free diet low in fat or calories. In addition, several eating plans combine well with a gluten-free diet.
This diet plan came into vogue in 1960. It took inspiration from people who live near the Mediterranean sea. Its popularity first grew in Italy, Turkey, and Spain. This diet plan can treat cardiovascular diseases, decreases the rate of ageing and promotes healthy living. Studies state the Mediterranean diet is an ideal nutritional model for cardiovascular health.
Mediterranean diet foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and some oils. It is similar to a gluten-free diet. One can combine a Mediterranean diet with a gluten-free diet by replacing those whole grains with some gluten-free ones. You can try quinoa or brown rice to replace some other grains so you can follow both a Mediterranean and gluten-free diet.
Read more about the Mediterranean diet.
A vegetarian diet is different to a gluten-free diet in a number of ways. The vegetarian diet includes foods from plant sources only or some dairy products. On a gluten-free diet, you can eat gluten-free non-veg food like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, as long as it doesn’t contain any trace of gluten. The vegetarian diet’s primary purpose is to avoid any meat sources for food and rely on plant and herb-based foods. It has some protective benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. However, it would help if you avoided some vegetarian diets that contain processed foods high in sodium and calories. Combining a gluten-free diet with a vegetarian diet is tricky as you need to replace meat and other animal food or seafood with some plant-based gluten-free foods.
Low Carb Diet
Generally, low-carb diets are to help in weight loss or management. You might have heard about the keto diet. These high-fat and low-carb diets are the most popular and effective weight-loss diets. There are many low-carb diets, some of which are designed purely for weight loss, and some are to treat certain medical conditions. The typical low-carb diet is a restriction on carbs. Though gluten-free foods are low in carbs, it becomes easy to follow both low-carb and gluten-free diets simultaneously. Here’s an essential guide to a low-carb diet.
Gluten-Free Diet v/s Other Diets
It is not ideal to compare a gluten-free diet and another diet as they have their own set of benefits and limitations. One must choose the best diet depending on their requirement and specific medical condition. For example, a gluten-free diet is for people with Celiac disease or other gluten allergies. However, very few people suffer from this problem. Other than that, gluten-free food is good for everyone as it keeps your digestive system and intestines healthy. If you love to enjoy a low-carb, vegan or want to have Mediterranean diet, you can go for a combination of that diet with a gluten-free diet. It will give you the benefits of both.
Diet and Weight Loss
As diet plays a vital role in weight loss, you must choose your foods accordingly. In this article, we have discussed gluten-free and some similar diets. Research has found that people on a gluten-free diet are more likely to lose weight than on any general diet. Some other diets are other than gluten-free diets that aid in weight loss like the Keto diet, Low carb diet or low-fat diet. All have different mechanisms of weight loss. If your target is weight loss and you do not want to risk Celiac disease or even if you are an average human, it is good to follow gluten-free foods in your weight loss diet. It is an ideal diet for everyone who has weight loss goals.
The HealthifyMe Note
Gluten is a protein composed of prolamin and glutenin found primarily in grains. Celiac disease is a chronic immune disorder that affects nutrient absorption in the small intestine. Therefore, the key aim of this diet is to serve gluten-free products to patients with Celiac disease.
Gluten-free diets are focused on diet plans for gluten-free foods. These diets are popular among people with gluten allergies or certain medical conditions like Celiac disease. However, following a gluten-free diet is always beneficial for those with digestive problems. You can also combine a gluten-free diet with other weight-loss diets or some vegetarian or Mediterranean diets. Gluten-free diets and other low-carb diets, such as Mediterranean diets, are suitable for people with weight loss goals. One can combine a gluten-free diet with other diet plans by making some adjustments. It makes your diet more reliable and beneficial than any other diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is a gluten-free diet healthier than a regular diet?
A. The diet is healthy or not entirely depends upon the nutritional index of that diet. However, there is little evidence to show that having a gluten-free diet is beneficial for your digestive system and beneficial over other diets. A gluten-free diet generally contains low-carb foods.
Q. Why are many doctors against a gluten-free diet?
A. Gluten-free diet is specially designed for those with Celiac disease or some other non-celiac gluten sensitivity or allergies. Doctors are against it because if one opts for gluten-free foods without a prescribed condition, it may make them lose out on essential nutrients and cause digestive issues in the long run.
Q. What are the disadvantages of a gluten-free diet?
A. Gluten-free diet is always considered healthy for those with some medical condition or who have a poor digestive system. However, there are some disadvantages also as you might lack some vitamins and minerals which you could have got from general diet foods.
Q. Is a gluten-free diet a healthy alternative for everyone, or has it become more of a fad diet?
A. Gluten-free diet is always a safer diet. Even if you do not suffer from gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, you can still consume a gluten-free diet as it keeps your digestive system healthy and is an excellent precautionary measure against Celiac or non-celiac sensitivity
Q. What happens when you stop eating gluten?
A. Having low gluten or none is beneficial for most of us. It helps reduce bloating and internal organ inflammation and gives you clearer skin, more energy and less brain fog. Your intestinal health may also improve if you have specific gluten food allergies.
Q. What happens to your body when you stop eating gluten and sugar?
A. When you stop eating sugars, it will help you avoid unhealthy extra calories, keep your metabolism high and aids in weight loss. Having low gluten or none at all is beneficial for most of us. It helps reduce bloating, and internal organ inflammation and gives you clearer skin, more energy and less brain fog.
Q. What three food items contain gluten?
A. Most of the grains you are consuming contain some amount of gluten in them. So you might be unable to completely block gluten as it is a common compound in many grains. For example, a good amount of gluten is present in wheat, barley and rye.
Q. Should everyone be gluten-free?
A. It is not compulsory to be gluten-free. Even 99% of the population can have gluten-containing foods, and they might not get any gluten complications or side effects. Furthermore, only 1% of people suffer from gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. So if you are among that 1%, then only it is necessary to avoid gluten.
Q. What happens if you stop eating gluten and then start again?
A. If you are an average human with no medical condition, having gluten stop or start won’t affect your body too much. However, suppose you are sensitive to gluten and start eating gluten after some days of a gluten-free diet. In that case, you may face bloating, tiredness, inflammation, etc.
Q. Will I lose weight on a gluten-free diet?
A. Gluten-free diets mostly contain low-carb foods. Also, following a gluten-free diet keeps you low in calories and restricts you from high-calorie foods like fast foods. However, you must avoid some gluten-free, high-calorie foods like cakes, pastries and snacks. In addition, the gluten diet promotes weight loss. So you can combine it with a weight loss diet.