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This Vs. That: Gluten and Gluten-Free

Whether it is for allergic, dietary, or simply personal reasons, many choose to partake in a gluten-free diet. Today we explore the differences between gluten and gluten-free products and what it really means for your diet. First, let’s understand what gluten is.

Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is sometimes referred to as ‘glue’, as it helps bind foods and helps them keep their shape. It helps bread rise and get its fluffy texture, and it is surprisingly included in many other products that most consume everyday. These products include cereals, soy source, and toothpaste. Though gluten has no specific benefits, the foods it comes in do. For example, whole wheat provides fiber, which helps to maintain a healthy stomach, and many cereals and breads are the major source of vitamin B for people.

A gluten-free diet can also provide health benefits, as the non-gluten grains like quinoa, buckwheat, etc. are very healthy. Specifically, flours made from those grains are often healthier than conventional white flour due to the nutritional benefits they have. That being said, not all gluten-free foods are healthier than their wheat-based counterparts, and can, at times, actually be unhealthier. Once of the main elements to keep in mind is that gluten-free foods often lack the vitamins that are added to wheat-based products, meaning that you might need to supplement those in other ways in order not to develop deficiencies.

Overall, both gluten and gluten-free diets can be very balanced diets, and with the growing popularity of gluten-free products, it has become easier to make the switch if that is something you are interested in!