Over the last few years, Gluten-Free items have become incredibly popular.
So popular, that you might even be wondering IF you should be going to Gluten-Free.
While many people might need to shift to a gluten-free diet, not everyone really needs to. In many cases, people might transition to a gluten-free diet without even taking a look at the rest of their dietary habits – or, without even thinking too hard about why they are going gluten-free.
I had a friend just a year or so ago that was adamant that she needed to remove gluten from her diet – she was often bloated, feeling sluggish and after asking several friends, was sure that she was making the right decision. She was also obsessed with drinking soda – and eating out multiple times a week. As much as I wanted to mention to her that gluten might be the case, her obsession with soda was more than likely one of the reasons she was always sluggish and feeling bloated.
While many people might need to be making that shift, certainly not everyone needs to. Companies know that there is big money to be had in the gluten-free industry, and as a result, marketing is VERY heavy. New products are created almost daily to meet the needs of people that are looking to venture into these lifestyle changes.
When people make the switch to to gluten-free, they often times neglect fresh foods, and foods that are naturally gluten-free. Many of them shop for natural (not to be confused with “organic”) and packaged gluten-free foods, and some will consume ONLY natural gluten-free sources.
Gluten-free foods bring relief to many – but even after switching to gluten-free items, some people may not even feel any relief from their problems. Gluten-free is NOT organic – and although making the switch to gluten-free might be an avenue for some, it’s not a substitute for healthier eating habits.
What’s the Problem with Gluten-free Foods?
Gluten-free products can be great for those who need to find relief – but the problem with many of them is that they are oftentimes more refined than items that are not gluten-free. MANY of the gluten-free items available in stores are processed foods – which hold little to no nutritional value.
During the refining process, these items are highly processed – manufacturers forego gluten, but make up or that gluten through rice, potatoes, corn and tapioca flour. ALL of those items are highly refined, and can create a rise in blood sugar that’s even greater than whole grain based products. Moreover, these items are nutritionally deficient from Iron, Calcium, vitamin B12, Zinc and more.
Take for example the 99 Only store – you can oftentimes find gluten-free refrigerated cookie dough, granola bars, and even snack type foods for just $.99. Unfortunately, most of them are processed, lacking in nutritional value, and high in sugars. Gluten-free does not equate to healthy.
While they might be gluten-free, they certainly aren’t much better than their traditional counterparts.
If you are looking to make a dietary move to be gluten-free, there are 4 reasons to ditch the gluten-free aisle in efforts to shop cleaner, healthier, and food that will be better for you long term.
#1 – Gluten-free products lack nutrients.
In comparison to fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and lean animal meat (protein), gluten-free products are much less nutritious. During the manufacturing process, grains are refined – and as you know, anything that refined loses valuable vitamins and minerals that your body needs. And while your body can take a multivitamin to replenish those items, synthetic vitamins are never anything close to getting what you need through real sources.
#2 – Gluten-free products are high in sugar.
Unfortunately, when ingredients are taken OUT of food, usually they are replaced with other ingredients that might not be as healthy. For example – when you see fat free foods, they are usually always made with extra sugar (to compensate for the lack of fat), and manmade fats. The same goes for gluten-free items – although the gluten has been removed, manufacturers have replaced many of the materials to allow longer shelf life, and better taste.
Too much sugar can throw your gut health off balance – weakening your immunity, and creating a breeding ground for candida (yeast), and chronic diseases.
#3 – Gluten-free products have preservatives & refined oil.
Yikes – yuck and yuck! The purpose of preservatives is to increase the shelf life of a product to ensure that it doesn’t develop mold or bacteria. And while that might just be convenient for some… it’s not good for your diet. Those unnecessary chemicals can affect your gut health when compounded over time. Avoid buying those items that are in a box may be convenient, they are not the best option when it comes to your long term health.
Not only do they have preservatives to help them stay on the shelf longer, many of these gluten-free items include cheap oils (rapeseed, canola, vegetable, and even safflower). Canola Oil is corn-based, and in most cases genetically modified – a poor nutritional choice. These oils are rich in Omega 6 Fatty Acids which can lead to inflammation – versus foods that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
#4 – Gluten-free items can still contain gluten.
It’s crazy to think that this is the case, but it is — gluten-free foods can also still contain small traces of gluten, too…while manufacturers may claim they are gluten-free, they are not completely “gluten-free”. Many of them are processed in facilities along with wheat – and while they might take proper precautions, they aren’t completely clear of ALL gluten.
While those trace amounts might seem trivial in the big scheme of things, if you are eating a great deal of processed gluten-free items, those trace amounts can add up rather quickly.
What you Can Do
Shopping in the gluten-free aisle really isn’t required if you are on a gluten-free dietary restriction. There are many wholesome, organic, and fresh foods that are naturally gluten-free and fairly inexpensive.
Aim for organic vegetables and fruit from your local farmer’s market or CSA, raw nuts, pasture raised beef and eggs from your local farmer, and healthier oils (over refined) and you might just see a noticeable difference in your health without having the high cost of making a transition to go gluten-free.
Once you remove gluten from your body, and you refine your diet to include pasture raised beef and eggs, raw nuts, and local, organic vegetables and fruits and you still find your body has sensitivities, you might want to ditch processed dairy for raw dairy, or forego soy until your sensitivities subside.