The rise in gluten intolerance has been astronomical over recent years. These days, you see food being advertised as “gluten free” in just about every restaurant and grocery store.
So, what’s going on? Are so many adults really gluten intolerant, or is this some sore of a “fad allergy?” If so many people are really developing gluten intolerance, what’s behind the meteoric rise? And, what are the health benefits of going gluten-free?
What Is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten is a protein found in cereal grain and wheat. It helps bread rise and gives it a chewy texture. While it has its benefits, it is also difficult for even people with healthy digestive systems to digest.
Gluten intolerance results when undigested gluten proteins accumulate in the gut, causing inflammation and a flattening of the microvilli of the small intestine. These microvilli normally absorb nutrients from food, but cannot do so if they are not functioning properly.
Gluten intolerance can manifest in a number of ways, from rashes and depression to chronic fatigue and anemia, and in extreme cases, celiac disease.
Health Benefits of Going Gluten-Free
So, why are so many people going gluten free? A great number of health benefits have been ascribed to diets that avoid gluten. Those with gluten intolerances who switch to a gluten-free lifestyle experience increased energy levels, higher morale, healthier skin, and improved health in their digestive systems.
Adopting a gluten-free lifestyle also means avoiding a great many processed foods which, in addition to being chock-full of gluten, are generally full of other unhealthy ingredients, too. So, going gluten free tends to also eliminate sugars, oils, artificial flavors and colorings, and other dietary no-nos.
In place of all of that processed food you might otherwise be eating, you’ll probably be snacking on healthier alternatives.
Substitute an apple for a piece of candy, and you’re eliminating the insulin spike and subsequent crash caused by sudden bursts of processed sugar. Instead, you’ll get the sustained energy caused by the fruit’s sugar being slowly absorbed from its fibrous flesh.
The fiber is good for you too, as it helps promote healthy digestion. And, instead of a bunch of ingredients you can’t pronounce, you’ll be getting vitamin C, and a little bit of iron, calcium, and vitamin A, too.
Easier Than it Once Was
In years past, gluten intolerant folks had little choice but to do their own research, carefully combing ingredient labels for the dreaded g-word.
Fortunately, food producers have taken notice of the increase in consumer demand for gluten free products. Many products that were always gluten-free are now being labeled as such. While gluten-free products were once a niche market, even big manufacturers are tweaking familiar products to make them gluten-free.
[Photo Credit: glutenfreelex]