Gluten-Free Eating: for Whom, and Why?

Gluten-Free Eating: for Whom, and Why?

Posted by Geneviève Nadeau on Jun 05, 2012 | Food And Nutrition


In the world of nutrition, gluten is currently the talk of town. If ‘gluten-free’ products have surged in popularity, it is due in part to the critical needs of people suffering from coeliac disease (or gluten intolerance). That said, some consumers are also increasingly seeking gluten-free food simply to improve their health or to feel better. So should everyone convert to this new trend?

Discovering Gluten

When talking about gluten, we are refering to a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. Even if oat does not contain gluten, there is a significant risk for it to be contaminated by this protein. Besides, gluten does come with some delicious assets! After all, it is responsible for the soft texture that characterizes bakery products like bread and cake.

Did you know that approximately 300,000 Canadians suffer from coeliac disease and that many of them are unaware of it? The scientific community is still struggling to explain the cause of this intolerance. What we do know is that in order to eliminate symptoms associated with it – such as diarrhea, anemia, and muscle pain – we must eliminate absolutely all gluten from our diet. Indeed, we must watch out even for a toaster or a bowl of margarine that could be contaminated with gluten. ‘Gluten-free’ eating thus rhymes first and foremost with vigilance, rather than merely with health and well-being.

Enjoy Life without Gluten

When we go on a gluten-free diet, it is also very important to pay extra attention to products that constitute potential hidden sources of this compound! Thick sauces containing wheat flour, coated meat, beer, drugs, and beauty products can all hide it. Even the smallest dose of gluten, when introduced in a coeliac person’s alimentary canal, can damage that person’s bowels, which in turn can bring back symptoms. In the long run, this can carry significant health risks, including bowel cancer.

Fortunately, many products are clearly labelled ‘gluten-free’. Hain-Celestial offers a variety of gluten-free options, among which are:

  • Rudi’s sliced breads, hamburger buns and tortillas, made of rice flour or whole grains flour (brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc.)
  • Arrowhead Mills® corn based pasta
  • TERRA Chips®, exotic vegetables chips whose popularity goes way beyond gluten-free adepts!

Everyone in ‘Gluten-Free’ Mode?

With the data currently available to us, we cannot recommend a gluten-free diet to the entire population not suffering from coeliac disease. Banning wheat-based cereal products is not risk-free! Most of them are enriched with multiple vitamins and minerals like folacine, thiamine, and iron. Therefore, we must be aware of adequate substitutes – or run the risk of dietary deficiency. Meeting with a dietician can, in this regard, be of great help.

Gluten-free eating is a treatment in reaction to a disease. If you experience pain after ingesting gluten, you should not stop consuming before having run a blood test and an intestinal biopsy. Doing so could lead to flawed tests results and delay the diagnosis.

Even if you tolerate gluten, nothing prevents you from enjoying gluten-free food for its great taste!