What is Gluten by Dr. Sara Celik, Naturopathic Doctor at www.drsaradetox.com
10th Feb

Trendy Diets | What is Gluten, Anyway?

What’s not to love about the healthy, gluten-free diet, right? Perhaps you feel less bloated and have more energy since going gluten-free. And, let’s face it – the cool kids are juicing, doing hot yoga, and living a gluten-free lifestyle, so why not you?

Well, unless you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac disease, is it really a good idea for you to be avoiding wheat and other gluten containing products?

Many of my patients who are intolerant to gluten have no idea why people follow a gluten-free diet by choice.

They often complain to me that their dietary plan is restrictive, expensive, and places a burden on their social life. So why on earth has this diet become the latest trend?

I think it’s time we chat about what gluten really is, why you “think” you feel better keeping it off your plate, and why going gluten-free doesn’t mean you’re leading a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s take a closer look at how wheat has changed over the last 50 years.

Today’s wheat is not even close to the wheat that Mother Nature provided us with. In fact, it’s been drastically transformed using modern technology and harmful chemicals to increase revenues for big corporations.

Simply put, unregulated crossbreeding of wheat has led wheat to go wrong.

Various man-made changes in our wheat supply have altered a protein called gliadin, which is a polypeptide present in gluten.

Due to the artificially modified gliadin component, many people are facing health problems today, such as:

  • digestive issues
  • fatigue
  • inflammation
  • skin problems

Although gliadin is present in crackers, breads, pastas, and baked goods made from barley, kamut, rye, or spelt, wheat remains the grain with the highest amount of this difficult-to-digest protein.

So if gliadin is the real issue, what exactly is gluten?

Gluten is a protein composite, made up of gliadin and glutenin. Quinoa, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet are gluten-free grains, which do not contain gliadin protein.

Many people claim they feel better eliminating gluten from their diet.

They report weight loss, increased mental clarity, and better digestion. However, are the positive effects they’re experiencing a result of eliminating gluten or the result of a healthier diet – increased vegetables, lean protein, and low-carbohydrate?

Some researchers claim that a placebo effect may even be at play. Who’s to say?

All I know is that embracing a “gluten-free” lifestyle does not equal a “healthy” lifestyle.

Many gluten-free foods are unhealthy, difficult to digest and lack vitamins and nutrients that the body needs, not to mention many of these foods products have a high glycemic index. High glycemic foods cause spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, food cravings, and fatigue.

People have this idea that “gluten-free” equates to “healthy”, so they’ll eat gluten-free treats like brownies or cookies, gluten-free chips, and gluten-free pasta like it’s going out of style.

What they fail to realize is that these products should still be consumed in moderation and are not supportive of good health.

If going gluten-free means you’re eating a diet that’s rich in natural whole foods, then you’ve likely made some positive changes to your lifestyle. However, if going gluten-free means you’ve found gluten-free alternatives to Ruffles chips and Pillsbury Doughboy cookies, you may wish to re-consider your “healthy” lifestyle.

Eliminating gluten may be the best thing you can do for your health or it may not. At least now you know that living a gluten-free lifestyle goes far beyond fitting in with the cool kids.


Dr.Sara Celik
Dr. Sara Celik is a board-certified Naturopathic Doctor and is the Spokesperson for Renew Life Canada. She is a leader in the health and wellness industry and is regularly featured as a sought-after expert on television programs and in health publications. Dr. Sara carries over 15 years experience and her clinical practice and work in the community Is focused on digestive health, detoxification and weight loss.
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