Now I’m sure you have noticed the gluten craze building in the nutrition world. Tons of people saying gluten is terrible for you, and yet other sources say whole grain breads and pastas are wonderful for you! What should you believe? Which side should you join? Well, I’m going to give you both sides of the argument, so you can make the educated decision for your body! Let the debate begin!
Whole Grain Argument: The main point of the whole wheat argument is to eat only 100% whole grain products as opposed to bleached or enriched wheat. When wheat is bleached or enriched, it means that it has been stripped of its nutrients (and that’s why it has to then be enriched). This stripped down wheat acts as a simple sugar in your body- it burns quickly, so you become hungry shortly after, and it is ranked high on the glycemic index, which means it spikes your blood sugar. Wheat that has not been bleached and retains its nutrients is whole wheat. Products that are 100% whole grain are lower on the glycemic index, and digest slower, thus keeping you full longer. They are a great source of vitamin B, zinc, iron, and especially have a lot of fiber. B vitamins give your body energy, while fiber helps regulate digestion and can protect you from a multitude of health problems. Many nutritionists caution against going gluten-free because you run the risk of becoming deficient in those nutrients.
Gluten-Free Argument: First of all, what is gluten? It’s a protein found in wheat and other grains like barley and rye. It helps bread rise, keep its shape, and adds elasticity, which gives the bread its chewy and fluffy texture! However, Gluten has been linked to multiple health risks. As you may have heard, people who have Celiac Disease have an immune response to gluten (like an allergy). Studies have shown links between gluten consumption and thyroid disease or even so far as Alzheimer’s. Many people may even have gluten insensitivity- think of this like the difference between lactose intolerance and a milk allergy. An intolerance makes it uncomfortable to eat the food, while an allergy makes it dangerous to eat the food. Many find that by reducing or eliminating their gluten consumption, they get more energy, less “brain fog”, and other benefits.
Overall, both sides have benefits and problems. There is not an ultimate answer. The amount of information on the internet about both sides is enormous, and the best we can do is to become as educated as possible so that we may make the best decisions for ourselves. Do a little experiment- eliminate gluten from your diet for a week or two. How do you feel?
Peace and love!