Food without gluten is the rage of the age. Largely, there are 2 categories of people – fitness conscious and those who have surrendered to their desires. The term gluten-free is more likely to be heard whilst in the company of the former type of people than latter. However, even health, fitness and diet-conscious people seem to follow perception more than reality. The result of a survey was partially published in a health magazine recently. Participants were served the 2 types of biscuits and chips – gluten-containing and gluten-free. The respondents vaguely claimed gluten-free food to be healthier even though all the 4 types of food served to them were gluten-free. It clearly reveals the myth that pertains to gluten-free food and the subsequent weight loss.
Bad Taste: Participants of the survey rated both the types of biscuits chips and similarly in terms of taste and flavour. They also rated the items similarly in terms of fat content, carbohydrate-content and calories. It means that food items without gluten are well-disguised in terms of flavour and meet everyone’s taste.
Better diet due to gluten reduction: Nearly 33% of the respondents in the survey stated that eliminating gluten from diet generally makes the overall diet healthier. In fact, the reality is almost exactly opposite. Those who completely eliminate gluten from their diet eliminate various nutrients that are vital for good health. Contemporary packaged food products contain certain minerals and vitamins but not folic acid. Thus, people get a few of the essential minerals and vitamins through such packaged food items as result of the government directive in many countries. However, eliminating gluten means lack of several essential nutrients such as folic acid, which necessary for proper development of foetus during the early periods of pregnancy.
Gluten-free items are healthier: Formulating packaged food items free of gluten compels producers to use alternatives for the same palatability, chewiness, texture, etc. Sugar and fat are handy substitutes for gluten and may be in higher concentration in such food items than those that contain gluten. Thus, the benefits are either neutralised or reversed.
Guaranteed weight loss: People think that gluten-free diet guarantees weight loss. Those who eat only gluten free food do lose weight but due to the significant reduction in carbohydrate consumption. However, increasing the quantity of vegetables, fruits and lean meat while eliminating fatty, oily, sugary and carbohydrate food items can yield similar effect. In fact, the latter may be more sustainable.
Improvement in digestion: A very common perception among people, especially those who advocate gluten-free diet, is that reduction in gluten consumption guarantees improvement in digestion. However, the reality is that gluten adversely affects digestive system of only those people who have genuine gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Apart from that, there is no other evidence of improvement in digestive system due to reduction of gluten consumption.
Conclusively, weight loss does not directly depend upon gluten, which can be reduced or even added to the diet according to the specific nutritional need of every individual.