Fad diets are something of an American obsession these days.
Indeed, approximately 45 million of us go on one diet or another every single year.
Keto diets, paleo diets, vegan diets, Mediterranean diets, Dukan diets, 5-2 diets… You name it, and we do it. Until that is, the holidays come around and we can’t say no to another slice of Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie.
Of all the diets out there, though, going gluten-free has become one of the most popular. It’s literally everywhere these days! But why do people go gluten-free? And what actually is gluten?
Are you confused about the whole shebang and want answers to these kinds of questions? Let us help! Read on to discover all about gluten and the primary reasons people follow a gluten-free diet.
What Actually Is Gluten?
Very few people had even heard of gluten until fairly recently.
But now it’s everywhere.
You get gluten-free recipe websites, gluten-free options on restaurant menus (not to mention entire gluten-free restaurants), and gluten-free alternatives at grocery stores.
Despite gluten’s newfound ubiquity in everyday life, though, there remains a lot of confusion about it. Many people on the actual diet don’t even know what it is!
Gluten’s a term that’s been given to select proteins contained in wheat, barley, rye, and a wheat-rye hybrid known as triticale.
There aren’t any essential nutrients in gluten, but a clue to its function can be found in its name. Gluten acts as a binding agent (aka, a glue) that helps food hold its form and stay together.
You get it in a bunch of different (generally carbohydrate-heavy) foodstuffs. Think bread, pasta, cereal, beer, soups, and delectable baked goods to boot.
Now, what’s all well and good. Why do people go on a gluten-free diet though? More on that next.
5 Key Reasons to Stop Eating Gluten
In reality, there’s a whole range of reasons somebody might decide to stop eating gluten. From medical needs to personal preference and everything in between! They all count and they’re all common. Nevertheless, get ready for five of the most compelling explanations behind going gluten-free:
1. They Have Celiac Disease
Someone who’s got celiac disease definitely has the most pressing reason to go gluten-free.
They could literally die if they kept eating it! At the very least, they’d get very sick indeed. Even small amounts of gluten can cause significant damage and distress. This is because people with celiac disease can’t digest gluten properly.
Ingesting it triggers a response from their immune system, which attacks the ‘villi’ in their small intestine. Villi are elongated protrusions that facilitate the absorption of nutrients in your gut. Hinder their functioning and your body can’t get the nutrients it needs to operate.
All sorts of health-related issues can develop if the disease goes unchecked and untreated. Anybody who suspects they have it should avoid gluten, book an appointment with their physician, and consider getting this test panel.
2. They Suffer When They Eat It!
You don’t have to have celiac disease to suffer from eating gluten.
Some people are gluten sensitive instead. In other words, eating it does them no good whatsoever! In fact, their physical reaction to gluten can be just as extreme as it would be for celiacs.
The only difference is that it won’t do them long-term damage.
Everything from nausea and bloating to pain, diarrhea, headaches, and low moods can develop with gluten intolerance. Throw in the potential for weight loss, tiredness, and an array of other issues and it’s no wonder they avoid gluten at all costs.
3. To Be Healthier and Lose Weight
Pain, discomfort, and debilitating illnesses aren’t the only reasons people avoid gluten.
Many do it because they believe it’ll help them lose weight, feel better, and get healthier overall. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of evidence that skipping gluten delivers those kinds of results in and of itself.
However, the dietary changes someone might make in order to ‘go gluten-free’ could, in theory, make a positive difference. For instance, you might cut out bread, pasta, and sweet treats in favor of greens and legumes.
In so doing, you could reduce your calorie intake and eat a healthier diet all-around. The result? You’d lose weight and feel better.
It wouldn’t however, have much to do with the absence of gluten itself.
4. Because Gluten-Heavy Foods Aren’t Always Healthy
Not everybody’s confused though.
Some folks know they don’t need to go gluten-free and that the absence of it won’t deliver results by itself. But they do it anyway. Why?
Because many gluten-heavy foods aren’t particularly healthy.
Think about the list we included above – bread, pasta, and beer are hardly full of vital nutrients! Avoiding them in favor of more nutrient-dense foods would be a natural choice for health-conscious people.
Moreover, some other diets (such as the paleo diet) focus on foods that are all-but gluten-free anyway. You can end up going gluten-free by virtue of being on a totally different diet.
5. As Part of an Elimination Diet
Many people go gluten-free as part of an elimination diet as well.
Imagine suffering all the negative symptoms we discussed above (bloating, pain, tiredness, and so on) whenever you ate wheat-filled foods.
Over time, you’d probably come to suspect that you’re gluten-intolerant, right?
To find out once and for all, you could decide to cut it out from your diet. If the symptoms disappeared, then your suspicions would be confirmed. If the symptoms persisted, you’d know gluten wasn’t the culprit after all.
That, in a nutshell, is what’s called an elimination diet!
It’s about taking a systematic approach to uncovering the truth about a potential intolerance. By confirming your suspicions about a given food-stuff, you can then cut it out of your diet once and for all.
Why Do People Go Gluten Free? Now You Know!
America is a nation of aspiring abstainers. Every single year, tens of millions of us enter one diet or another in a bid for better health and slimmer waistlines.
Going gluten-free is one of the most popular diets of our times. Nevertheless, confusion remains about its virtues and why people decide to do it. Have you been wondering why do people go gluten-free?
Hopefully, this post has provided the answers you’ve been seeking. Read more articles like this one by searching ‘diet’ on the website now.