What is it?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat (also oats, barley, and rye) that gives any baked good (think bread, cakes, cookies, croissants, etc…the list is endless) a structure. The crusty bread or soft interior of your favourite bread is all thanks to gluten.
Celiac Disease vs. Gluten-free
About 1% of Canada’s population has celiac disease, but many more are undiagnosed. To diagnose celiac disease, gluten has to be eaten and those who suffer health complications from eating gluten would rather not suffer through them in order to be diagnosed.
Many, many other people have chosen to eat a gluten-free diet for a variety of reasons. Some swear by books like Grain Brain and Wheat Belly, which have spread myths about what gluten does to the body. Some people have chosen to eat gluten-free simply because they lost a large amount of weight when they took it out of their diet for a period of time.
The problem with this “solution” is this: because gluten-containing products are usually a primary source of carbohydrates for many people, the reason weight is lost is because the main source of dietary energy has been removed. It’s not actually because of gluten.
If you choose to eat a gluten-free diet, there are an increasing amount of products to choose from. The science to create a “gluten” that will help create bread and other baked goods that will mimic real gluten is also improving.
The increase in choice of products is both good and bad. Good because it gives everyone who eats a gluten-free diet more options. On the other hand, it can make it a little more difficult for people with celiac disease to find what they need.
Celiac disease absolutely requires a gluten-free diet. It’s not an option. The health complications are serious and could lead to other more serious health issues.