Gluten Can Be Great For Almost All Of Us
May 9, 2019
Just 1% of people have celiac disease, while 0.4% have a medically diagnosed allergy to wheat. So why does it seem like everyone’s gluten-free now? Because almost a third of Americans are cutting down or eliminating their gluten intake.
If you’re one of them, it might be because you have a gluten sensitivity. Whether perceived or diagnosed, the results are the same. It might also be a way to cut out excess carbs and sugars. Hey, you can’t sneak that pastry if you can’t eat any pastries, right?
Therein lies the problem. When you avoid gluten, you might inadvertently avoid valuable nutrients too – not to mention an excellent source of energy.
The Magic of the Glycemic Index
If you ever said, “That went right through me,” about gluten, it might come down to the GI. And no, not gastrointestinal. Generally speaking, the lower the score on the Glycemic Index, the slower it’s digested. This minimizes the spike and crash of glucose that’s caused by eating foods with high scores on the GI. For example, both steel cut oats and pasta contain gluten but low on the Glycemic Index. Meanwhile, white bread and rice rank sky-high.
Here’s a helpful list of examples from Diabetes.org!
Look for Whole Grain and Whole Wheat
If you’re on a strictly gluten-free diet, it’s still easy to find dietary fiber (beans, beans, and more beans).
But beyond being an excellent source of fiber, whole grain is packed with multiple B vitamins as well as minerals like iron and magnesium. Combined, you’re getting a boost to bowel function and improve your immune system and metabolism. Iron deficiency is also a common condition shared by many women, and both whole grain and wheat are healthy sources of this important nutrient.
So white bread isn’t simply bad by comparison, its alternatives are outright healthy.
Gluten Health Benefits and Nutrients
Avoiding gluten can lead to developing serious nutritional deficiencies — like a lack of iron and calcium — among many others. So going from gluten-free to buying the right gluten products can instantly restore what you’re unnecessarily restricting in your diet. Besides, the proper amount of fiber is crucial to living your best life, and products rich in grains have been shown to reduce the risk of many illnesses such as heart disease. Also, replacing foods that have a high GI score with low scoring items can absolutely help you lose weight – and maintain a healthy range.
Gluten You Should Avoid
While you’re out shopping for buckwheat and quinoa — both of which you should go ahead and add to your shopping list now — you might come across some tempting gluten-rich options. Pastries are obvious no-no’s, but basically any type of bagel that isn’t whole wheat is going to be high sugar, little fiber, and zero nutrients. If you buy an onion bagel, you’d be only getting all the nutrients from the little pieces of onion they put in the dough. White bread and most cereal is high on the GI too. The bottom line – if eating the bread product is bad for blood sugar, skip it.
What to Do If You Have an Undiagnosed Issue
In the case of any kind of dietary advice, talk to your doctor or a certified dietitian. We’re all different, which is great. But it also makes providing universal advice difficult – if not impossible. Around 6% of Americans have a diagnosed gluten sensitivity, which means it’s likely that even more have an undiagnosed issue. Consult with your health professionals to ensure your diet is right for you.