You may have considered going on a wheat-free diet, but what are the facts? Our Nutritionist, Lucy-Ann takes a quick look into no wheat meals and healthy snacking.
Wheat and gluten are sometimes confused as same thing, but are in fact two different groups of proteins although they are often consumed at the same time. However, gluten is not exclusive to wheat and is also in other grains such as rye, oats, spelt, barley and kamut grain. Found in thousands of everyday foods, wheat can be difficult to avoid, especially in more heavily processed foods such as bread products, cakes, biscuits, buns, pizzas and wraps. Even simple foods can have wheat and gluten in them – microwave meals, soups and sweets use it as filler, but is wheat really something worth troubling yourself to avoid?
Why people choose a gluten and wheat-free diet:
- Wheat is a common dietary allergen which can cause immune-related, digestive and weight management difficulties.
- Gluten appears to be an appetite stimulant according to Dr William David, author of ‘Wheat Belly’.
- Wheat can be addictive! Polypeptides from gluten can cause a mild euphoria which encourages people to eat more.
- A starch in wheat (known as amylopectin A) quickly converts to blood sugar which has been linked to diabetes and weight gain.
- Wheat contains a protein called WGA, which has been linked to digestive problems and gut inflammation.
- Wheat consumption can also lead to a condition known as ‘leaky gut’ which contributes to low-grade inflammation linked with cancer, heart disease, cancer and auto-immune problems.
- Diets high in wheat have a high glycaemic index (GI), which has been linked to diabetes and obesity.
So what about gluten?
For those with a diagnosed gluten allergy (also known as Coeliac Disease), gluten can pose a number of health risks, including digestive complications and inflammation. Recent studies have shown that Coeliacs are not the only ones at risk, and even people without a full-blown allergy can experience problems after consuming foods containing gluten. So why is gluten causing these problems?
- As wheat is a human-processed food, our bodies are not naturally adapted to processing grasses and grains, particularly wheat.
- The hybridisation of wheat results in higher gluten levels in everyday foods.
- The volume of food products today that contain wheat and grain.
Are wheat and gluten affecting me?
If you have been experience digestive problems, it may be that you are allergic to gluten to some degree. A good way to test this is to cut out wheat and gluten-rich foods for a few weeks and see if things improve. Fortunately, most supermarkets will have gluten-free alternatives and its becoming increasingly common to see these at eateries and restaurants also. Be wary of hidden sources of gluten such as within soups, tinned foods and microwave meals.
The benefits of a gluten and wheat free diet
- Enjoy improved digestion and healthier insides
- It can contribute to weight loss
- You will have more energy through the day
- Improved moods and mental functions