AUBURN, AL- Gluten-free products are becoming increasingly popular as society is becoming more aware of what gluten is and the impact gluten can have on the body. It is becoming more prevalent to see products with gluten-free labeling at not only restaurants but also in grocery stores.
In order to understand what all the hype around gluten-free foods is, you have to first know what gluten is. Gluten is a mixture of two proteins that are responsible for the chewy texture of wheat. So what about that sounds like you need to go on a gluten-free diet? Well, it is not quite as simple as chewy textured bread.
When asked why it is becoming so popular to see gluten-free labeling on products, Helen Jones, a regional nutrition agent with Alabama Extension, offers her insight on the growing popularity of living gluten-free. “There is a growing population of people who have somehow heard that gluten-free is healthier or think of it as fashionable,” said Jones. “When they remove gluten from their diet, they’re inadvertently taking out a lot of processed foods and are really feeling the benefits of eating healthier foods.”
Where people go wrong is assuming that gluten is bad and not fully understanding that gluten is only bad if you are gluten intolerant or if you have celiac disease. There are advantages as well as disadvantages to having a gluten-free diet.
“Eliminating gluten may improve mood and relieve fatigue,” said Jones. “The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness states that eliminating gluten reduces stomach upset, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, gas, bloating and constipation in those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.” For those who suffer from celiac disease, a gluten-free diet will help keep the body from many dangerous side effects that could harm the body. Many people are choosing the gluten-free diet as a means of losing weight and that is not necessarily a result of not eating gluten.
Although most large grocery stores carry gluten-free foods, these packaged foods typically have a higher price tag than regular foods containing gluten. “Eliminating gluten may cause deficiencies in fiber, iron, riboflavin and other nutrients abundant in gluten-containing foods, such as whole-grain bread and pasta,” said Jones.
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