Should You Eat Gluten?

There is an ongoing debate about gluten. Some say that it’s safe for everyone except folks who have celiac disease. While others argue that it should be avoided regardless of any health condition.

The name gluten comes from its glue-like consistence in dough. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, and barley. The most widely used gluten is wheat gluten. The most widely recognized gluten intolerance is Celiac disease, when the body’s immune system attacks the gluten like a foreign invader. In doing so, it also attacks the stomach lining.

While celiac disease has common symptoms including headache, skin rashes, depression, bloating, unexplained weight loss, some people experience no digestive symptoms at all. In fact, a study revealed that 80% of people with celiac disease didn’t know they had it. It is estimated that 1 percent of the population has celiac disease and up to 13 percent of the population has some form of gluten sensitivity including bloating, stomach pain, depression, diarrhea and tiredness.

Should I Eat Gluten?

One way to learn how gluten affects you is to simply stop eating it for a month or so. Try having gluten free grains and foods:

  • Brown rice
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Flax
  • Tapioca
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth

Fruits and vegetables are gluten-free naturally. Even if you are not sensitive to gluten, you are free to experiment. Sometimes I’ll go low gluten or gluten free for a while just for a change. While most people need not avoid gluten, it never hurts to take a break from time to time.

Gluten can be found in grains like:

  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Triticale
  • Farina
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Faro
  • Couscous
  • Wheat berries

Because these grains are used in so many different foods, the list of foods containing gluten is extensive. This list includes most breads, baked goods, certain condiments, pasta’s made from wheat flour, snack foods, many processed foods and more.

One of my favorite gluten free foods is red lentil pasta. You get 14 grams of protein, 35 grams of complex carbs, and 6 grams of fiber in each 2oz serving. It’s a low glycemic index food so it will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

The choice not to eat gluten does not have to involve an intolerance to it. You are free to experiment from time to time. Take a break from it for a while. See how you feel.

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