A gluten-free diet involves excluding foods with protein gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and spelled. People who are found to be intolerant to gluten experience severe symptoms such as discomfort and adverse health effects ranging from digestive problems, headaches, fatigue, constipation, bloating, hormonal imbalance, and anemia. However, a gluten-free diet is prescribed, which is claimed to bring about improved health, increased energy levels, and weight loss benefits.
A gluten-free diet is highly recommended for celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity to boost their health and relieve painful symptoms. Celiac disease refers to an autoimmune disorder whereby the body mistakenly harms itself by treating gluten protein as a foreign threat to the body. This disorder often leads to the gut wall being attacked, thus creating digestive issues in the small intestines. Such digestive problems may lead to the prevention of absorption of healthy nutrients from the food consumed and, in return, leads to the health decline of an individual.
Pros of Gluten-free Diet
1. Treatment of Celiac and Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: A gluten-free diet was initially developed for people who have celiac disease since gluten proteins triggered their immune system to attack and damage the lining of the small intestines, thus hindering the proper absorption of food nutrients adverse health effects to celiac patients. The introduction of a gluten-free diet gave a substantial immune boost to celiac disease patients. Moreover, the gluten-free diet has proved effective in treating non-celiac gluten sensitivity. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may experience similar symptoms with celiac patients when they eat gluten foods, although it does not necessarily mean that their small intestinal walls are damaged.
2. Nutritional Benefits: A gluten-free diet is a healthy diet, primarily when you focus on various foods and meal balance. Gluten-free foods include fresh meat, fresh vegetables, fish, fresh dairy products, poultry, nuts, rice, corn, sorghum millet, and many more. Individuals are encouraged to focus on whole foods that ensure a healthy, well-balanced diet to obtain the best nutritional value.
3. Weight loss: A gluten-free diet eliminates most of the junk foods from your daily menu and, in turn, leads to a decrease in the intake of unwanted calories in the body. Consumption of whole and unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean protein helps cut excessive calories that contribute to weight gain. A gluten-free diet tends to substitute high-calorie foods with natural foods.
4. Reduced Digestive symptoms: A gluten-free diet plays an essential role in treating digestive ailments such as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. Gluten-free foods promote better functioning of the gut bacteria that play a critical role in nutrient absorption. Proper nutrient absorption leads to be better digestive health as the digestive walls are correctly functional.
5. Energy Booster: People with celiac disease are often diagnosed with fatigue and tiredness due to nutritional deficiency. However, a gluten-free diet helps heal the small intestines and creates room for proper absorption of nutrients, which boosts the energy levels of an individual. A gluten-free diet eliminates the intake of high-calorie carbohydrates that may cause sluggishness and bloat.
6. Diet Safety: A gluten-free diet is safe to follow with proper nutritional planning by allowing for flexibility to choose different foods. This diet helps eliminate foods with high cholesterol levels, hence preventing the occurrence of heart diseases. A gluten-free diet will enable people to choose from less processed foods and introduce high-quality grains such as quinoa.
7. Awareness of Food: Adverts on a gluten-free diet have encouraged more people to choose to buy since they are becoming increasingly concerned about healthy diets. More people are keen on label reading of foods they buy to ensure proper diet.
8. Diet Adjustment: People with celiac disease tend to be lactose intolerant and are advised to avoid dairy products; however, there are gluten-free, dairy-free alternatives such as almond milk, dairy-free cheeses, gluten-free soy milk, and dairy-free yogurt that boost the intake of calcium.
9. Improve Lactose Intolerance: A gluten-free diet helps heal the small intestine walls, and with time, individuals can consume milk-based dairy products, although this change is usually gradual.
Cons of Gluten-free Diet
1. Price: Maintaining a gluten-free diet may prove costly since processed gluten-free products are likely to be two times more expensive than regular products. The process of refining products to be gluten-free is what makes gluten-free products expensive.
2. Gut Health: People without celiac disease and opt to partake in a gluten-free diet may experience adverse effects on their gut health due to damaged gut bacteria and immune functioning, which leads to the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines.
3. Weight Gain: Processed gluten-free products may contain high levels of carbohydrates and sugar, which causes weight gain; thus, people are advised to take natural, unprocessed gluten-free products. Another cause of weight gain may be attributed to the healing of the gut wall, promoting the normal absorption of nutrients to the body.
4. Low Fiber Intake: Constipation is a common side effect associated with a gluten-free diet since it offers fewer sources of fiber which contribute to proper bowel movements. Lack of fiber from natural sources might affect the digestion processes and lead to weight gain, poor gut health, ant oxidation, and inflammatory diseases.
5. Nutritional Deficiency: A gluten-free diet can be low in other nutrients found in wheat-based foods, which possess’ essential nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, folic, fiber, and vitamins A, B12, D, and K. Iron and folic are significant components for the formation of hemoglobin in the body, and lack of this may lead to anemia. People on a gluten-free diet tend to buy and more processed foods labeled “gluten-free,” unlike opting for more natural unprocessed gluten-free nutrition.
6. Affect Social Life: Most social life involves food, which makes a person on a gluten-free diet more careful and keen on the foods offered to avoid contamination of food with gluten, and some would go the extra mile and carry their food to events. People with celiac disease will more often avoid social events to stick to their gluten-free diet. Sometimes this might be draining because an individual may be required to do more planning and search in advance for hotels and restaurants that offer gluten-free diets to avoid inconveniences.
7. Type 2 Diabetes: Gluten is necessary for the body to help maintain a balanced diet, and avoidance of gluten may cause abnormality in metabolism and lead to the body being resistant to insulin or the pancreas stops producing it developing Type 2 Diabetes.