Gooooooooooooood Monday morning FITTNation!
Every month, we present to you a nutrition edition of Motivation 101 to help gear your bodies in the right direction from a consumption standpoint. As the saying goes – Nutrition is 80% and Exercise is 20% right? Therefore it only makes sense that we would provide you with interesting posts to answer some of your questions regarding what to eat, how much to have, what’s “Bad” and what’s “good”, and so on, so that you’ll be better informed.
Allow me to present the topic of topics for today’s blog – GLUTEN
This 6 letter word has been put in the class of expletives lately, confusing many into wondering if it’s as bad as it has been labelled. Just what is it exactly? How does it affect our nutrition choices? Should it be avoided? Is it really the enemy?
My good friend Stacey Yunger takes a deeper look into this topic and gives us some insight on the matter.
Is Gluten the Real Enemy?
We’re not supposed to be eating gluten, right? Well, that’s not necessarily true. The truth is gluten is simply a protein that is found in wheat and other wheat products. It is responsible for the elasticity in dough and allows bread to rise. This is why gluten free products often have a different texture. Gluten is not bad for you, unless you have gluten intolerance, sensitivity to wheat or celiac disease. And even in these cases there are differentiations.
In the case of a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, there are symptoms and discomfort upon consuming gluten and it may be of benefit to eliminate some or all gluten from the diet. In the more severe case, celiac disease, a person must follow a strict gluten free diet as even the smallest crumb could cause symptoms. The ingested gluten destroys the intestinal wall and inhibits the absorbance of many nutrients. Since the gluten free lifestyle is a trend right now it is hard to be taken seriously with celiac disease. Restaurants offer gluten free menus to appeal to their customers, but they don’t necessarily take into consideration the severity of cross contamination when offering these menus.
There is definitely a hype surrounding gluten free diets at the moment, but following a gluten-free diet does not necessarily coincide with following a healthier lifestyle. This is not to say it is unhealthy, it is simply another way of eating. However, It is important to know that gluten free alternatives to many foods are usually substituted with fat or sugar to help replicate the flavors and textures consumers are used to. Eliminating foods containing gluten may also decrease fiber intake. Furthermore, there are many vitamins and minerals found in wheat products that may become too limited the diet as well.
The gluten free hype allows marketing campaigns a big advantage. More labels are being placed on packages claiming the product is gluten free whether the gluten has been removed or the product is naturally gluten free. For example, popcorn contains no gluten, along with rice, rice cakes, and most oats. Years ago it would be rare to find a gluten free sticker on a simple bag of popcorn, but now almost every bag has it. Naturally occurring gluten free foods are only a hazard when cross-contamination with gluten may occur. However, there is a perception that these snack foods are now healthier because they are labeled gluten free. It is important to become educated as a consumer in order to not be misled.
Another big claim surrounding a gluten free diet is that it helps with weight loss. Well, let’s look at it this way, gluten is found in many baked goods – this is normally one of the first to be cut in a gluten free diet. Before believing these claims, it’s important to get the whole picture. By following a gluten free diet many people tend to change eating habits in a positive way and end up eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods in turn cutting out calories. This is something that can be done whether or not gluten is present.
In order to test and diagnose gluten intolerance or celiac disease there must still be gluten in the diet. Therefore, before self-diagnosis of symptoms always get tested and go from there. The key to living a healthy lifestyle is to follow a balanced diet. Whether you choose to consume gluten or not should be based on your body’s ability to digest gluten.
Stacey Yunger is a registered dietician serving clients in the Montreal area. If you have any questions or would like a free evaluation, contact her by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trainer Profile: Kareem Rawlins
Experience Personal Training – 5 years | Nutrition Counseling – 3 years | Group Fitness – 3 years