I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but suddenly, everyone seems to be gluten intolerant. According to Google Trends, interest in gluten has now doubled since 2011. Gluten-free products, where two or three years ago you’d be hard-pressed to find, are now an extremely lucrative business, the market value coming up last year at $90 million in Canada and a whopping $4.2 billion in the U.S.
It is, by far, the trendiest problem to have.
However, less than 1% of the population in Canada are actually affected by celiac disease — the disease where consuming gluten affects your small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients. Other people have gluten intolerances, where consuming gluten gives causes a wide array of discomfort. The problem we have today is that a lot of people are linking their digestive abnormalities to gluten sensitivities, when that really may not be the case.
Here are some of the risks that come out of going gluten-free:
It puts you at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies
This is the most significant risk. Whenever you cut out an entire food group, you’re cutting out all the nutrients those foods provide. Whole grains are rich in fibre, manganese, zinc, selenium, folate, and a lot more. Gluten-free alternative foods are not as nutrient dense.
You still can be eating a nutrient-rich diet without gluten, it’s just that most people don’t.
You’ll be spending more money
Gluten-free alternatives often come at a premium. In the grocery stores, you’ll find a smaller variety of alternative ingredient cereals, all pricier than your average Cheerios. In many restaurants today, they will have “gluten-free” substitutions for usually a dollar extra.
Gluten-free foods are hard on your intestines
There are many products developed with alternative ingredients that don’t contain gluten. Ingredients such as tapioca starch, rice flour, and corn flour that are popular alternatives to wheat flour, do not contain a sufficient amount of probiotic fibre. In other words, you don’t get as much good gut bacteria.
In order to replicate the binding properties of gluten, the ingredients are also heavily processed. And chemicals are never going to make your gut jump for joy.
You’re going to miss a lot of food
Gluten is like corn: it’s found in everything. It’s not just bread, pasta, and cakes. No, gluten is also found in soups, salad dressings, soy sauce, hot dogs, potato chips, etc. It’s everywhere. For those who can’t have gluten, even trace amounts will trigger reactions. So just avoiding grains is not going to cut it, if gluten is your problem.
If you’re someone who loves food, as most people do, you’re not going to be able to enjoy the things you love to eat.
You stress yourself out
What with the extra money you need to spend and all the good food you’ll have to avoid, it’s going to be too easy to fall into a slump. Money is always a big stresser, and especially when it’s money you need to spend for your health. You constantly have to look for the inconspicuous ingredients that contain gluten at the grocery store, so grocery shopping becomes an active mission.
And when somehow, even after all your careful scrutiny, you get a reaction, you feel hopeless.
The good news
Most people’s gluten intolerances are incorrectly self-diagnosed. Gluten may not be your ailment. So consult your doctor about your dietary issues before choosing to go gluten-free!
[quote_center]What are your thoughts on the gluten-free trend?[/quote_center]
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