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This dietician says gluten is good for you and here's why

Cutting out gluten healthily can be tricky as you need to replace it with other foods that are more expensive and not as tasty, writes Fiachrá Duffy.

Fiachra Duffy

OH, HOW I wish there were just one single food I could cut out and as if by magic I would be free from risk for a range of diseases, my skin would be silky smooth, and I would grow another foot and better cheek bones.

Alas I live in reality where no such feat of food-wizardry is actually possible.

Genetics are responsible for how tall I am, the colour of my hair (ginger for those wondering) and in general for how I look; if I’m not getting my big break as Ireland’s Next Top Model I have only my parents and their genetics to blame for that and not the gluten in my diet.

So why the fascination?

We are only human after all. We can’t help but aspire to beautify ourselves…how many hours are spent trying to make those eyebrows match (remember, they’re sisters not twins), or pumping iron in the gym for better definition?

We aspire to make ourselves more aesthetically pleasing to those of the sex we are attracted to in the vain hope that they just might be attracted back. And in this pursuit of love we draw inspiration from those that we find pleasing to the eye.

Surely, we tell ourselves, if they do it and they look like that then I too can just cut out gluten or dairy or whichever nutritional bad guy happens to be lurking in the fridge this week and wake up as beautiful as them, pushing those pesky thoughts to the back of our mind that try to remind us that they likely have an entire style team to ensure not so much as a hair is ever out of place.

Cutting gluten healthily can be tricky

So by now (I hope) you have come to realise that recent articles linking gluten to a whole range of diseases are nothing more than modern day witch doctoring; pedalling the promise of health, better looks and clearer skin to the unsuspecting.

The truth is that you can’t really cut out gluten so much as cut out foods containing gluten such as porridge, breads, and pastas; foods that are a healthy and wholesome and cheap source of carbohydrates and energy for our bodies.

shutterstock_155224478 Source: Shutterstock/Sea Wave

So whilst technically you can cut out these foods, doing it healthily can be tricky as you need to replace them with other foods that are likely more expensive and not as tasty.

We’ve all heard the stories of people cutting out gluten and feeling so much better afterwards and there are two main reasons for this and neither of them are actually related to gluten.

Firstly, most of us eat a lot of white pasta and white bread, two foods that can make us feel sluggish and bloated. This is because most of the fibre has been removed during processing and not at all because of the gluten content.

When people switch to gluten-free alternatives or remove these foods from their diet they feel better – simply because they’re eating foods with way more fibre meaning a slower, more consistent energy release and no more bloatedness.

Secondly, there is also a touch of peer pressure about it all; villainising gluten has become a common trend endorsed by everyone from celebrities to our families and friends so to go gluten free is now just as much about making a social statement as it is about health.

Anti-gluten bandwagon

shutterstock_276008429 Source: Shutterstock/Teri Virbickis

So yes, you can cut out gluten if you wish, but simply switching to wholegrain, wholesome breads and pastas will make you feel much better without compromising cost or flavour.

The only people who actually need to cut it out are those who have been diagnosed by a medical doctor with either coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, most of the rest of us are just jumping on the anti-gluten bandwagon!

Trust your registered health professionals. These are people who have devoted their lives towards helping others through using only evidence-based, research-supported treatments that have been proven to work. If you want to find out if you should be cutting out gluten or about any other medial or dietary issue then go to your registered health professional and be safe in the knowledge that they will do their best for you and your family.

Trust your doctor, trust your dietitian.

Fiachrá Duffy is a Registered Dietitian with the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and a current competitor in this year’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition for his weight loss app – The Digital Dietitian. You can contact him at fiachra@kcalculator.ie.

Read: 5 reasons you shouldn’t try a gluten-free diet>

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