Why is gluten getting the boo-ten?
Gluten, gluten, gluten.. What are you exactly? Why does everyone hate you? Why are people avoiding you even when they don’t have an intolerance to you? And are you really unhealthy?
In the last several years or so, we’ve all been hearing a lot about this mysterious food component, gluten. People have warned others to steer clear from it because of the negative effects it supposedly has on your health. This controversy surrounding gluten has become big business in the health industry and has given birth to the, ‘gluten-free diet’, gluten-free products and menus designed around gluten-free foods. With Inside Out producing gluten-free products and our strong passion for health, we wanted to delve into the gluten topic and ask, “do people even know what gluten is?” and “is it really bad for you?”
Commonly associated with wheat, many people think gluten is a carbohydrate, when in fact it’s actually a protein! As many people are already aware, gluten can be found in wheat but also oats, barley and rye and is responsible for the dough’s elasticity. Although it originates from these grains, foods can still contain gluten even though they might not have these grains because they can be hidden among ingredients and cross-contamination can occur in the farming or manufacturing process. Only foods that are labelled, “gluten-free” on their product packaging can be assured by the consumer that they are free from gluten. From a manufacturer’s perspective and by law, gluten-free claims need to be validated by a food lab to show that no gluten has been detected in food products.
For many of us, our bodies can tolerate gluten just fine. However for others, their bodies may react abnormally to gluten causing inflammation, and potentially lead to long term issues such as chronic system inflammation, poor nutrition, malabsorption, osteoporosis and many other diseases. Not fun! This is known as coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder. In our small intestine, the lining is covered with finger-like projections called villi which help break down and absorb nutrients in food. For individuals with coeliac disease, this lining is left inflamed and damaged from being exposed to gluten and if left untreated, can cause the villi to flatten. This leaves the body unable to absorb nutrients!
Fortunately, if you experience some of the symptoms (bloating, flatulence, headaches, fatigue, and diarrhoea) you can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. If you experience some of these symptoms but your blood test comes back negative, you may just be sensitive to gluten. And yes, there’s a HUGE difference to being sensitive to gluten and having coeliac disease so don’t mistake one for the other.
The question is, if you aren’t gluten intolerant and don’t have coeliac disease, should you avoid gluten?
Definitely not! Gluten itself doesn’t offer many health benefits, but many foods that contain gluten, such as wholegrains, are also rich in an array of vitamins and minerals such as fibre, B vitamins and iron. So if you skip on foods that contain gluten, you’ll also run the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Not only that but man, almost all foods that make you salivate contain gluten! And unfortunately, if you are sensitive to gluten, there’s little to no point to just going on a “sort of gluten-free diet” because even trace amounts of gluten can have an effect on your body.
So what do we think? We think there’s definitely no reason why you should go gluten-free if you’re not sensitive to gluten or have coeliac disease because not only are you missing out on beneficial nutrients but you’re also missing out on some damn good and tasty foods! If you’re unsure or have some symptoms, we always recommend you see your health professional, and work out with them a way to manage changes to your diet and nutrition – please do not self-diagnose and treat yourself! As for why we claim gluten-free on our products? Simply, we want as many people to enjoy our products as possible. Given that our products are cleanskin and that they provide a great alternative to those suffering from one or more sensitivities or allergies, we ensure our manufacturing facility stays a gluten-free zone!
If you have any questions or queries about this topic or anything I’ve written in this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org .