SHOULD WE ALL BE GLUTEN FREE?
Coeliac awareness week is 13-20 March. It’s a week where we both consider those who can’t eat dietary staples many of us take for granted, and think about our own health too.
This serious disease, that affects the small intestine and comes with a plethora of other associated problems (eg. tiredness, depression, mouth ulcers, etc.), is present in around 1 in 70 Australians yet it is estimated that 80 per cent are still undiagnosed, partly because people think the only symptom is feeling sick after eating gluten. Diagnosis is so important as people with this debilitating disease are at higher risk of other illnesses.
Coeliac Australia seeks to ensure more people are diagnosed as early as possible and has set up an online assessment for people to check if they are at risk of coeliac disease.
But, should we all be avoiding gluten? Is it the enemy?
Whilst a gluten free diet is necessary for those with coeliac disease, wheat allergies or gluten sensitivity, many people without such issues who choose to eliminate wheat from their diet, often speak of the benefits to their health. But is there any truth in this?
Unfortunately, there is not much to back up the testimony of the celebrities, athletes and general public who are advocates for the health benefits of going gluten free. However, feeling better for not eating gluten is the driving force behind many people taking up and sticking to this lifestyle.
Although the medical benefits of being gluten free (if you don’t have coeliac disease or a gluten or wheat intolerance) have not been proven, there is a general consensus amongst the medical community that if you elect to take on this diet, you must make sure you take into account nutritional deficiencies that you may
experience. Bread, cereals and other everyday foods that contain gluten, are also a source of many vitamins and minerals, so it is important that these are incorporated into your diet in another way.
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