New research has revealed that gluten-free diets continue to rise in popularity, with almost half the nation (46%) having tried or have incorporated gluten-free foods in their diet. Over a third (36%) of Aussies have opted for a gluten-free diet to eat healthier, and almost a quarter (23%) to lose weight
The research by Kellogg’s Australia also however, that 52% are unaware gluten-free diets often lack essential nutrients such a dietary fibre, and an important component for digestive health.
This leaves us with the pressing question of whether or not eating a gluten-free diet is better for us. To answer this, we’ve called upon molecular nutritionist Dr Emma Beckett to share some insight.
Going gluten-free will make me “healthier”
It’s easy to think that because gluten causes symptoms in some people, that it’s “bad” for everyone. Eating a gluten-free diet can be beneficial for those who have been medically diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, or coeliac disease. The research revealed however, that only 3% of those surveyed have gone gluten-free due to an actual diagnose of coeliac disease. Unless medically diagnosed, it’s not necessary to be cutting gluten or any specific foods from your diet, as this could be detrimental to your health and leave you at risk if not receiving essential nutrients such as fibre for good digestive wellbeing. It is important that we’re getting variety from the foods we eat, to ensure that we are receiving the correct amount of essential nutrients needed for optimal health.
Common misconceptions about eating gluten-free
A lot of people opt for a gluten-free diet as they believe it’s trendy, with this research revealing Aussies (36%) do it to be healthier, with almost a quarter (23%) of respondents nationwide losing weight. The concern here is that only 1 in 10 Australians recognise that gluten-free diets often lack essential nutrients such as fibre. Many often think that gluten-free products are a healthier choice, however numerous gluten-free options like pasta and desserts typically have more calories than their gluten-containing counterparts.
There’s also lots of nostalgia for “simple” and “clean” eating and gluten-containing grains take some processing to be pleasant and easy to eat, but people have been milling flour in various ways since ancient times. I also find that many people want to eat more protein to develop lean muscle when looking to get fit and healthy, however often don’t realise that gluten is a protein.
Is eating gluten beneficial for those who aren’t gluten intolerant
Foods containing gluten are often those that are high in fibre, such as wholegrains, breads and breakfast cereals. When it comes to dietary fibre needed for good gut and digestive health, high-fibre cereals are a great way to start the day with a dose of fibre. For those who are gluten-free, high fibre gluten-free cereals are not so easy to find, but innovations such as high fibre Sultana Bran Gluten Free, are now available to help with getting enough fibre.
So, to answer your question of whether gluten-free is actually better for you, the key thing to remember is that cutting any type of foods completely from your diet is never healthy – unless you suffer from a medical diagnosis or intolerance. Remember, moderation is key and that it’s important to be getting a variety from the foods we eat in order to ensure we are receiving essential nutrients needed for optimal health.
Dr Emma Beckett’s tips for going gluten-free
Regardless of whether you are medically diagnosed, self-diagnosed or just want to eat healthier, it’s important to ensure you are still getting all the essential nutrients you need. Below are my top tips for those eating a gluten-free diet.
Tip 1: The research has shown only 1 in 10 Australians has recognised gluten-free diets lack essential nutrients such as fibre, an important component for digestive health. Fibre is essential for our body as it feeds the good bacteria living in our gut, so if you go gluten-free, make sure to look for high fibre options like Sultana Bran Gluten Free
Tip 2: Include plant-based foods to as many meals as possible when eating a gluten-free diet, to ensure you’re receiving essential nutrients such as fibre. This can be as simple as adding fruit and legumes to your lunchtime salad or switching your dinner options to include more vegetable components.
Tip 3: Swap your daily coffee for a small homemade juice or smoothie that includes whole fruit or fresh leafy greens such as spinach or kale.