Although very few people know what gluten is, many believe that it may be better to remove it from their diet. Awareness on gluten has increased in the past year, as has the number of gluten-free products found on grocery shelves.
First of all, what is gluten? Gluten is a protein naturally found in several types of grains, including wheat, rye and barley. Properties of this protein include giving elasticity and moistness to the dough.
For many people who suffer from celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is the only way to prevent symptoms. Not only must they replace some elements in their diet, but they must forever ban all foods that contain gluten. Adjusting to a gluten-free diet can be challenging, since gluten can be found in several foods, such as salad dressing, cold cuts and even beer.
In Quebec, a little more than one person out of a hundred will be diagnosed with a gluten allergy in their lifetime. Eating gluten may have dire consequences on the health of these individuals. Anemia, bloating, diarrhea and fatigue are some of the symptoms of this disease. However, people who haven't been diagnosed by a doctor should be wary, since following a gluten-free diet may expose them to nutritional deficiencies. Whole-grain cereals which contain gluten are part of a healthy, well-balanced diet, and are an excellent source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates found in cereal products help nourish our muscles and brain. Therefore, unless you have a medical reason to do so, going gluten-free won't make you healthier.