To really understand why foods without gluten have specific benefits, you need to know what gluten is in the first place. Most people have a general idea, but the dictionary tells me that gluten is a general name for groups of proteins found in various types of wheat, rye, barley and triciale. It is a natural emulsifier and thickening agent, sort of like corn starch or eggs, and it acts as a kind of natural glue that helps foods to hold their shape and stay together. It’s present in every product that uses whole grains, and the majority of things made from flour contain gluten as well.
So what are some of the benefits to gluten free food? Well, there are some known benefits if you happen to suffer from celiac disease. That causes the body to attack its own small intestine when digesting gluten, and it can lead to inflammation, bleeding and other issues in the digestive tract. Some people don’t necessarily suffer from celiac disease, but they do still have a natural sensitivity to gluten, and it can cause digestive woes for them too. The benefit of gluten free food for these people should be immediately apparent – their bodies simply feel better if they don’t eat gluten.
For those without allergies, sensitivity or diseases which react violently to gluten, the benefits of gluten free food are less pronounced, but they do still exist. In many cases, avoiding foods with gluten in them leads to a reduction in the intake of cakes, cookies, pastries, breads and similar foods; eating less of these types of food is generally a good idea unless trying to put on weight with lots of empty calories. However, gluten free varieties of these foods will still have the same calorie counts, or they might even be higher thanks to adjusted ingredients to keep the food palatable.
So, you can’t just eat whatever you want. Who would have thought it? Besides watching your calorie intake, you need to make sure you get the right vitamins and minerals, even if you’re trying to go gluten free. It’s never a good idea to just cut out whole groups of foods from your diet, especially if you don’t have something to replace those items with. That just leaves a huge void in the nutrients your body is used to getting, and it might seem like a little thing, but you’ll feel the effects of that deprivation before you know it.