A gluten-free diet is not for everyone. But it’s worth considering if you are looking at your diet holistically.
The research continues to pour in regarding a gluten-free diet and the ramifications of the alternative. The most popular book “Wheat Belly” documents the controversy surrounding the consumption of wheat, wheat products, whole grains, and anything containing these byproducts in their ingredients. Gluten-free is mainstream now. Regular supermarkets are stocking shelves with entire sections of gluten-free foods, along with the natural food grocers, who label everything from water to bulk bin items to meat, as “gluten-free.”
It is becoming more of a cult in our society to adopt these habits, yet many health professionals and athletes are not so quick to jump on the bandwagon. Many feel as though their current dietary lifestyles they have maintained for many years are still suitable in their daily lives. To change from the comforts of what they have eaten since birth, to now eliminating the “bread of life” without any side effects, makes most athletes-both men and women- feel deprived. If there are no symptoms of celiac disease, inflammation, or obesity, the propensity to alter a regular dietary habit of whole grain products seems radical to many.
However, as the studies continue to reveal the negative impact of consuming anything wheat or wheat-related, there is a need to begin changing the way we look at our nutrition and return to more of a Paleolithic dietary lifestyle. A Paleolithic diet is very similar to a Mediterranean diet. More emphasis is placed on vegetables, fish, lean chicken/turkey, nuts, healthy fats such as coconut, olive, and avocado oils, non-acidic fruits low on the glycemic index (the amount of sugar content a food contains), and other foods that are more raw in nature and closer to the earth. Many illnesses can be alleviated, and possibly cured, with a more simplistic approach to our diets. The only addition of grains to the Paleo way of eating will come in the form of brown rice, quinoa, corn, and some almond products. Regular and sweet potatoes are also wonderful healthy additions. These are the most optimum alternatives to wheat and whole grain ingredients, while still giving you that sense that you are getting enough quality nutrition in your diet; just make sure not to go overboard on the complex carbohydrates—while they do contribute to the “fullness” feeling, too many starches offset the balance of protein to carb to fat ratio, which could lead to weight gain if exercise output is minimal.
The advantages of gluten-free foods are endless for both men and women:
1. Combating the obesity crisis and the “large belly” syndrome, which can contribute to the adult onset of diabetes.
2. Clearing up any skin problems that occur later in life due to minimized inflammatory foods in starches.
3. Helping with fatigue and chronic sleeplessness.
5. The ability to promote lean muscle tissue
6. Aiding a weak immune system, and any other inflammations that occur in the body as a result of wheat and whole grains.
There is a caveat to this, however, and it reveals itself in the form of moderation is key. As with any food, or new dietary lifestyle, going overboard with this new habit will promote the opposite effect. Similar to the fat-free food fad from years ago, the gluten-free food advantage is not without the caloric intake scenario. These products still contain sugar, fat, possibly some processed ingredients; it will be beneficial to maintain a level of prudence and read the ingredients. Plus, if it is gluten-free, this does not mean calorie free. The desire to eat more than is necessary is still prevalent, especially when you feel as though you are depriving yourself of “regular” food and eating a healthier diet. Being smart and diligent goes a long way in the gluten-free advantage. Reading labels, researching the internet on the best choices for you and your children, and introducing gluten-free gradually, as opposed to a complete overhaul, will make or break the effectiveness. Celiac disease is another front and center result of too much gluten in the diet. Many cases of children exhibiting the symptoms related to celiac disease need an examination by their physician before the decision to eliminate wheat and other gluten products. This will aid in their overall wellness as they grow up, and become healthier adults in the process.
The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of a gluten-free lifestyle. This is nothing new. It may feel like it’s not for everyone, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to pay attention to how much all that junk that you might consume is altering your health over the long haul. it is never too late to combat disease, take care of the integrity of the body, and promote quality nutrition in its most simple form.
Photo: NatShots Photography natacoustic / flickr