‘Do I Need to Eat Gluten Free’ by Kate Pollard was originally published in Great Health Guide (Oct 2015) and we thought you’d love to see one of our favourites again. A Gluten free diet does not automatically mean a healthy one – the two terms are simply not interchangeable. That being said, if you have a gluten intolerance, of course avoid gluten at all costs. However, most people do not experience issues when consuming gluten.
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NUTRITION: Do I Need To Eat Gluten Free?
written by Kate Pollard
Gluten free products are lining the supermarket shelves, but does ‘gluten free’ mean ‘healthy’? The short answer is no.
Gluten is a protein found in foods, particularly wheat, rye, barley and oats. People with coeliac disease need to have a strict gluten free diet, which means checking all ingredients as well as cross-contamination to manage their condition. Some people are gluten intolerant and others experience reduced gastrointestinal symptoms by decreasing the amount of gluten in their diet. However for the majority of people there are no issues eating foods containing gluten.
Gluten free is often confused as meaning healthy, however many foods with this label are often not a nutritious choice and will not be a ‘weight loss fix’ as they’re often marketed. Many packaged products, such as biscuits and cakes, simply swap a few ingredients for gluten free alternatives which makes us believe that they must be better for our health.
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You may have heard someone (or a celebrity) say they lost weight or improved their health by changing to gluten free foods. This results in many people questioning their current gluten containing diet. Many healthy foods are naturally gluten free, but it’s not the lack of gluten that makes them healthy. The following list are naturally gluten free:
Meat, fish and chicken (without crumbing or marinating)*
Majority of dairy*
Nuts and seeds
Legumes and lentils
*Gluten is often added in the processing of the foods e.g. crumbed meat or sausages.
So don’t believe everything you read on a packet! Many healthy foods are naturally gluten free, but it’s not the lack of gluten that makes them healthy.