With increased access to the internet and false marketing ploys, gluten is often presented in a bad light. Misconceptions about gluten are swarming across the web and it can be difficult to find accurate information.
In fact, if asked, many don’t even know what exactly is gluten. Gluten is a name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. Those with celiac disease can’t ingest gluten or their body will mount an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption.
The science can be complicated and, combined with false advertising, has given gluten a bad reputation.
There are however many benefits to consuming foods containing gluten. In fact, a recent study published in BMJ found that “long term dietary intake of gluten was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease; the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk.”
The Southland Times covered the report:
Harvard University research has found that gluten consumption is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, potentially putting a spanner in the works for the lucrative gluten-free industry.
By 2020, the global gluten-free trade is projected to be worth over $11 billion. If healthy-heart organisations catch on to this new study, that mightn’t be the case.
It’s estimated that only one per cent of people in the Western world have celiac disease, the clinically-defined intolerance of gluten that causes inflammation and intestinal damage.
An estimated more than 12 per cent of people follow gluten-free diets, however, either because they are “gluten sensitive” or they have a misguided opinion that gluten is somehow bad for your health. One US survey in 2013 even found that up to 30 per cent of adults actively try to avoid gluten…
However, gluten-free food on its own is not necessarily bad for you. Yes, it often contains highly-processed ingredients in lieu of gluten. But there are some healthy options available (e.g. some gluten-free bread and similar items) if you look at nutritional panels closely enough.
We encourage you the read the article in its entirety and to eat more wheat!