What is Gluten and Should I Avoid it?

What is gluten?

There are always new diet plans and diet myths emerging. Some come and go fairly quickly, while others stick around and end up being considered a sensible and effective diet by many.

So-called health gurus have been pushing gluten free diets for a while now, but are they actually the way forward, and is gluten really bad for you? 

We’ll debunk many of the myths surrounding gluten in this article and will give you a definitive answer to both of those questions.

What is Gluten?

Before diving deeper and exploring whether or not gluten is actually bad for you, it makes sense to first explain what gluten is. 

Simply put, gluten is a type of protein that is found in countless foods, including cereal, bread, and pasta to name a few. It doesn’t contain any essential nutrients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inherently bad for your health. 

What is Gluten

Should I Avoid Gluten?

For some people, it’s very important to completely avoid gluten. For example, people suffering from celiac disease will have an immune reaction if they eat gluten which results in inflammation and potentially serious damage to their intestinal tracts and some other parts of the body.

Roughly one in 100 people suffer from celiac disease in the United States – and there are many other people who don’t have this condition but are “gluten sensitive”. 

These “gluten-sensitive” people have symptoms such as bloating and sickness when they consume foods that contain gluten, so it’s also important for them to eat a gluten-free diet. 

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What About the Rest of Us?

If you don’t suffer from celiac disease and aren’t “gluten sensitive”, there’s little evidence to suggest that you can benefit from following a gluten free diet. 

In fact, as sticking to such a diet greatly limits the foods you can eat, it can inadvertently result in you failing to get enough of the right nutrition and can have a negative impact on your health. 

So, instead of focusing on cutting out gluten, you should simply try to eat a well-balanced diet with a good mixture of protein, carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins. 

How Did This Myth Emerge?

As mentioned, there are plenty of myths similar to this which crop up all the time. 

The myth about the benefits of eating a gluten free diet spread so quickly because most people know very little about gluten (they don’t even know that it’s a protein) – and it’s easy to be afraid of something you know very little about. 

The fact many so-called health gurus jumped on the gluten free train made it spread at a very fast rate, but this doesn’t change the fact that for most people, there’s no benefit in avoiding gluten.

A Quick Summary

  • Gluten-free diets are on the rise, but is gluten actually bad for you?
  • In short, unless you suffer from celiac disease or are “gluten sensitive”, there’s little to no evidence that eating gluten is bad for your health. 
  • Instead of following a simplistic diet like this and cutting one thing out, you should focus on maintaining a well-balanced diet that you tailor to your fitness and health goals.
  • For example, if you’re trying to lose weight you should focus on maintaining a caloric deficit by a combination of working out and avoiding high-calorie foods.