The Benefits of Being Gluten-Free
Gluten allergies affect between 6-7% of U.S. men and women each year and can cause severe gastrointestinal problems along with other health complications. It is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat plants and other grains. It acts as a binding agent in many processed foods and can add protein, texture, and flavor to bread, pasta, and other foods made with wheat. Gluten is found in a number of products, from soups and sauces to condiments, deli meats, veggie burgers, imitation crab meat, and many other food types.
Those with a gluten allergy or medical condition can still eat all of their favorite foods by making them with gluten-free flour. There are multiple gluten-free flour alternatives, such as almond flour, buckwheat flour, rice flour, or coconut flour. Gluten-free foods can be just as tasty as their gluten counterparts and are a much healthier alternative for anyone concerned about their overall health. Continue reading to learn more about what gluten is and the benefits of eating a gluten-free diet.
What Is Gluten and How Does it Impact Your Health?
Our society has a misguided relationship with food that has led to serious health complications that are negatively impacting our overall well-being. Gluten is typically found in wheat but is also in rye, barley, and triticale, a hybrid wheat made from rye and barley. You can find gluten in several products, from beer, soy sauce, thickened soups, taco seasoning, deli meats, cooking sprays, veggie burgers, imitation crab meat, and many others.
If a person has a gluten sensitivity, they can experience a number of symptoms that include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe stomach cramping
- Mental confusion
- Skin rash
In rare cases, individuals can develop anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction to gluten that can cause respiratory failure and shock. Determining if you have a gluten allergy requires a blood test from your regular doctor to see if you have abnormal levels of antibodies caused by your body’s immune response to gluten. The most common types of gluten-related illnesses include celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, gluten ataxia, or dermatitis herpetiformis.
The Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
You do not need to be diagnosed with a gluten allergy or other illness to begin instigating a gluten-free health plan. While there is nothing wrong with gluten for people without gluten sensitivities, there are several benefits of gluten-free diets that you should be aware of. Some of the top gluten-free benefits include:
- Elevated energy levels – Gluten-rich foods can take a lot of energy to process, leading some people to feel tired after a big meal. Plus, those with gluten allergies can experience inflammation, which can stop the absorption of certain minerals and nutrients and can slow down the digestive process.
- Eliminates bloating – Gluten can lead to a buildup of gasses in the stomach, which can lead to bloating. If you experience a lot of gas after a meal, try eating a gluten-free meal to see if that reduces the amount of gas buildup you experience.
- Increases bone density – Those with gluten sensitivities don’t get enough calcium and iron as mineral absorption is decreased by inflammation in the intestines. Eliminating gluten can reduce stomach inflammation and allow for more nutrients and minerals to be absorbed so your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly every day.
- Improves cognitive functions – Gluten-heavy meals take a lot of energy to process and can slow your mental capacities. One of the major benefits of gluten-free diets is it helps people stay mentally focused throughout the day. Your gut health is very important to your mental health, and a gluten-free diet is perfect for staying mentally active.
- Reduces processed food intake – Eating a healthy, gluten-free diet means you will be spending more time in the kitchen cooking your meals. There are a lot of benefits of home cooking that go beyond your physical health. It is a bonding opportunity for couples and families and can help children learn healthy eating habits early on.
While gluten is not technically bad for you, it can negatively impact certain men and women with gluten intolerance or celiac disease and trigger uncomfortable symptoms and bowel-control issues. A gluten-free diet can naturally improve your health, lower inflammation, and reduce the need for certain medications.
Healthy Eating with Gluten-Free Recipes
Many people today still feel that restricting their diets to certain foods means eating bland, tasteless meals that they have zero interest in eating. Fortunately, that is far from the truth, as there are plenty of seasonings and spices that you can use to add flavor to gluten-free meals. Here are some healthy gluten-free recipes that you can try if you want to cut gluten out of your diet. Most of these recipes only take 20-30 minutes to prepare:
- Grilled flank steak with tomato salad – This easy-to-make recipe includes grape tomatoes, fresh cilantro, jalapeño peppers, and garlic, along with protein-rich flank steak, and is perfect for those who love grilled steak.
- One pot garlic shrimp and broccoli – Seafood lovers can try this recipe that calls for healthy broccoli florets, red bell peppers, lots of garlic, and plenty of raw shrimp.
- Goat cheese and fresh herb omelet – If you are looking for a healthy breakfast, grab some eggs, goat cheese, fresh parsley, and chives for this quick and easy breakfast.
- Salmon with curried yogurt and cucumber salad – Another seafood favorite is this light cucumber salad with salmon cutlets, cucumber, fresh cilantro, yogurt, and curry powder for some added spice.
Those who don’t want to give up bread completely can purchase gluten-free bread or learn how to make their own gluten-free bread and pasta. You can also grow a lot of the seasonings and vegetables for these meals at home with indoor and outdoor gardens.
Eating Gluten-Free for a Healthier You
A gluten-free diet does not have to be boring or tasteless. There are plenty of wheat substitutes that you can use to bake your favorite foods without triggering gluten allergies or symptoms of celiac disease or other medical conditions. There are plenty of benefits of being gluten-free, and the longer you continue eating a healthy diet, the more physical and mental benefits you will discover.
For more healthy eating tips, check out these articles for more ways to improve your diet and overall health.