Wheat is one of the most common grains in our diet and is present in almost everything: from toasted bread, to children’s cereals until the delicious pasta we cook for lunch with the family. But in recent years, the debate about if foods with gluten are beneficial to our health, has transformed from what was known before as an essential nutrition, into one of the main villains to avoid.
Why eliminate gluten: necessity and choice
According to the Coeliac UK, 75% of people with coeliac disease in Britain are not diagnosed. Nevertheless, the number of people diagnosed in the UK with coeliac disease has increased between 1990 and 2011, explained a study from The University of Nottingham. Those living with the disease must follow a gluten-free diet for life, because it is the only way to control this autoimmune disorder. However, it is estimated that an average of 1 in 200 people follow a gluten-free diet for reasons other than being coeliac. Either by a sensitivity to the protein or with the idea of becoming healthier or achieve weight loss, it was claimed that after following a gluten free diet their life encompassed more vitality and energy. The truth is that: the gluten disputehas never moved a society so much like today.
Why are new cases of intolerance increasing? For cardiologist William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, one possible explanation is that wheat nowadays has nothing to do with what our grandparents ate, but “is a plant created from genetic research conducted in the 60s and 70s. The main difference is that it has a new protein called gliadin; one of the crucial proteins which allow bread to rise during its preparation. The gliadin contributes to some metabolic disorders like the feeling of heaviness and appetite changes, “in most people, the gliadin stimulates appetite and causes them to consume about 440 calories more per day, every day,” says Davis.
The Gluten Craze: Is It Healthy?
After some doctors began to suggest the elimination of gluten from patients’ diets to treat various chronic and autoimmune diseases, many people saw this scheme as a way to be able to lose weight and increase energy. The gluten-free diets generate much controversy among scientists, however if there is something that all experts agree on, is that not all products which are wheat or gluten-free are entirely healthy. Some gluten-free products contain an elevated nutritional level, but others contain more fats, and are not as rich in nutrients like those containing gluten. The gluten-free substitutes are not enriched with iron and can lead to the development of vitamin deficiencies so in both cases it is always advisable to follow a rich and varied diet.
Many nutritionists also recommend using wholemeal wheat instead of refined, white wheat, but Davis is adamant that: “With some exceptions, foods made of wheat flour, even if it is wholemeal, raises blood sugar levels more than other foods. When the health authorities recommend replacing white wheat for wholemeal wheat, they are proposing to change something bad, to something less bad. “, he says.
A gluten-free diet for weight loss?
For many, after sugar, grains containing gluten are one of the main culprits when it comes to losing weight. The gluten proteins have an addictive power which does not lead us to feel satisfied easily. By removing these foods and stabilizing your blood sugar it is easier to get into a weight loss routine. Davis continues, “Many people have told me when they’ve eaten wheat, they couldn’t stop. For binge-eaters or bulimics, they experience 24-hours-a-day food obsessions.
So lots of people intuitively know intuitively that they have this addictive potential because if they’ve had eight hours in which they didn’t have anything made of wheat, they’ve had insatiable cravings, nausea, nervousness, anxiety, headache, paranoia. It’s not just a matter of calories or carbs; it’s all the other mind effects”. In order to lose weight, or possess a healthier way of eating, you need to stop merely eating and start nourishing yourselves. The food industry is one of the largest businesses in the world, and their main objectives are profits and income, however many gluten-free products are made from other ingredients which are not the best; rice flour, potato flour, cornstarch, and tapioca starch. All these ingredients increase insulin levels and end up being stored as body fat, “That’s why I call these gluten-free replacement ingredients ‘junk carbs’. Let me state this unequivocally: Gluten-free foods made with these junk carb ingredients make you fat “, concluded the doctor. Natural products such as meat, fish, vegetables and fruits do not contain gluten, are easily digested and are super nutritious.
Advice: Before undertaking a gluten-free diet consult your specialist. For more information visit: https://www.coeliac.org.uk/home/