Gluten-free diets are becoming more and more prevalent as mainstream media, retailers and suppliers are jumping on this increasingly popular bandwagon. Many have touted the health benefits of this diet – but just because something is gluten-free, it’s not automatically healthy.
Think of the words “organic” or “natural”. We all think this is synonymous with “better” but cyanide, mercury, lead and tobacco can all technically be called organic and natural! Doesn’t mean they’re actually good for you though!
The same goes for “gluten-free”. Don’t get me wrong – there are definate and clear benefits that come out of gluten-free diets for those with Celiac disease, food allergies and intolerances. A gluten-free diet can even be quite healthy for everyone else too, but the key is in the choices that you make everyday.
If you are switching to a gluten-free diet by simply by finding substitutes for everything that you used to eat, you could be asking for trouble. If your gluten-free diet, for example, is filled with gluten-free pastas, cakes, muffins, cookies and breads – that’s not so good. That’s because most store bought gluten-free products are made with white rice flour (which has a nominal nutritional value), potato or corn starch (also common allergens with low nutritional value) and lots of refined sugar. And because gluten-free breads are harder to rise, they also contain much more yeast than their wheat counterparts.
The healthiest way to eat a gluten-free diet is to eat whole and unprocessed vegetables, fruits, meats and safe grains such as buckwheat, millet, quinoa and brown rice. Refined gluten-free foods like pasta and breads can be enjoyed as an occasional treat. And even better yet, you can prepare your own gluten-free baked goods with whole brown rice flour and natural sweeteners (like agave, honey and maple syrup). It’s easy to see how this type of gluten-free diet can be healthy for anyone, whether they have a dietary intolerance or not. So, gluten-free can be good for everyone afterall…