Wheat gluten — also known as wheat flour or simply “gluten” — is used in all kinds of food and drinks products. People with celiac disease are allergic to gluten and are well-accustomed to avoiding any kind of products that contain it, but people without the condition also realize that gluten may have some unfavourable after-effects on digestion and their overall health.
So what is wheat gluten, what kind of effect does it have on the body and what gluten-free substitutes are available?
What Is Wheat Gluten?
Gluten is the naturally occurring protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. It’s used in many foods and drinks products for numerous reasons, but mainly because it acts as an effective natural binder that gives food a stodgy, stretchy quality.
It’s most commonly used in dough to stop it from splitting and tearing. And it’s put to good use in making things like bread, pasta, pizza and cereals — as well as drinks like beer — but it’s also found in some whole grain foods like oats if they are contaminated with cereals containing gluten. But does this matter if you’re not allergic to wheat gluten?
How Does Wheat Gluten Affect the Body?
Although it’s a common ingredient in many foods and drinks, gluten doesn’t provide the body with much in the way of nutrition. People with celiac disease can have a severe allergic reaction to gluten. It can cause inflammation, irritation and damage to their digestive system and other parts of the body if ingested. But it can still cause an upset stomach or diarrhea for people without the disorder.
It’s estimated that gluten sensitivity may affect 7% of the US population, and gluten-free diets have become more popular as a result of increased awareness. People often report feeling less bloated after meals and less likely to experience problems like stomach cramps or a loss of appetite after starting a gluten-free diet. But while avoiding gluten has several benefits, it also has one or two drawbacks.
Gluten-free foods can cost more than their gluten-rich counterparts — making gluten-free diets more expensive to maintain — but more pressingly, gluten-free foods are less fortified with key nutrients like folic acid or iron. This can leave nutritional gaps in your diet that can lead to more serious health problems. So what can you do to maintain your health if you’re avoiding gluten?
Is a Gluten-Free Diet the Healthiest Option?
While ditching the gluten can provide you with several benefits that can greatly improve your life, you might be missing out on essential nutrients that aren’t found in gluten-free foods:
- Vitamins A, D, E and K
- Vitamin B12
- Folic Acid
Gluten-free multivitamins containing these vitamins and minerals can give your body the support it needs while following a gluten-free diet. They have the same nutritional content as regular supplements, so you can give your body the nutritional boost it needs while avoiding gluten and any of the unpleasant digestive troubles or allergic reactions it can cause. BestVitamin Best Multivitamin makes a simple and convenient addition to your diet and is perfectly suited to people following restricted diets as it’s gluten-free, non-GMO and vegetarian friendly.
For more targeted health benefits, gluten-free supplements like SISU Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin and Salus Floravit Liquid Iron Formula make it easy for you to stay on track with more specific nutritional requirements that might not be covered by a multivitamin supplement alone.
What's a Good Substitute for Wheat Gluten?
If you’re planning on cutting gluten out of your diet, it can be hard to find adequate gluten-free substitutes, particularly if you make many meals from scratch. Most kinds of flour made from grains contain gluten, but NOW Almond Flour makes a great gluten-free substitute, meaning you can create homemade, gluten-free food for your family to enjoy.
At Vitamart.ca, we understand how important it is to have as many options as possible to support your health naturally. We stock hundreds of highly effective gluten-free vitamin supplements that mean you won’t miss out on any key nutrients from following a gluten-free diet, no matter your family’s dietary preferences.
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