Gluten is a protein found in most grains including wheat, rye and barley. Derived from the Latin word for glue (that’s right…glue!), gluten is what gives bread dough its elastic texture.
For Celiac disease sufferers, gluten triggers a heightened immune response in the small intestine, and therefore must be strictly avoided. But there’s a growing subset of the population being diagnosed with “non-Celiac gluten sensitivity,” for which gluten can not only cause gastrointestinal symptoms, but also headaches, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, depression, and anemia.
For this reason, we are seeing a growing number of gluten-free food products lining store shelves – everything from gluten-free flour to pancake and muffin mixes. And perhaps because of this increasing prevalence of gluten-free products, many folks erroneously believe that gluten-free is synonymous with healthy.
While gluten-free products may be easier on your small intestine, from a weight management point of view they are a really bad idea.
Here’s why gluten-free products will make you fat.
Gluten-free products are typically made from rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, buckwheat, cornstarch, xantham gum – or some combination of the above. These highly refined ingredients spike the blood sugar and trigger insulin release – the fat storage hormone. Insulin’s primary job is to store fat for later use. The problem is that in order to be able to burn stored body fat, insulin must be low. And insulin is never low if you eat a high carb diet of gluten-free products.
Bottom line: Eat gluten-free (hint: eat real food!), but be very skeptical of products that are marketed as gluten-free. Please don’t fall into the trap of assuming that all gluten-free foods are healthy. Marketers have exploited our lack of knowledge around this subject, and as always, it behooves us to do our own research into the foods we put into our bodies.