Have you ever been to the store and seen the words “gluten-free” on a food package? Why do people require or chose to eat gluten-free food products?
Gluten-free items are foods that do not contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten can cause some individuals discomfort when consumed, such as in the case of a gluten sensitivity, allergy, or celiac disease. Although most people eliminate gluten from their diet when they have a gluten intolerance, others may eliminate gluten from their diet due to personal reasons or preferences. Can eating a gluten-free diet make us sick when we don’t have a gluten sensitivity, allergy, or celiac disease?
Gluten allows baked goods such as breads to be chewy and have an elastic quality. Gluten-free breads may feel more dense and have a slightly different texture. Gluten-free breads thus tend to be higher in calories, fat, carbohydrates, and salt. Gluten-free bread may also lack other vitamins typically fortified in gluten-containing breads, such as thiamin and folic acid. Eating gluten-free foods most likely would not cause digestive issues but may increase the number of calories you consume each day.
Individuals with other digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet. You should talk with your doctor if you suffer from IBS to determine if eliminating gluten from your diet would be beneficial. Gluten-free foods items are not necessary for a well-balanced diet in those who do not suffer from a gluten sensitivity, allergy, or celiac disease. Additionally, you may save money and improve your health by choosing whole grains such as whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Author: Mercedes Martin
Editor: Kaitlyn Longstaff
Public Health Scientist: LaCher E-W, MPH