There are many reasons people are making the decision to go gluten-free these days. For some, they are part of the 1% of the population who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, while others are dealing with a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). There are even plenty of people who are cutting out gluten just to see if it makes a difference in their lives.
No matter what your reasoning for going gluten-free may be, you might be wondering what you can expect from making this lifestyle change. To help you better understand what changes may occur with your mind and body, we’re sharing what happens when you go gluten-free. Here’s what you need to know before making this change:
1. You Probably Won’t Lose Weight
By now, you’ve probably heard of someone cutting out gluten in an attempt to lose weight. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Simply eliminating gluten from your diet doesn’t mean you’ll be consuming less calories, fat, sodium, or sugar. Many gluten-free versions of your favorite foods contain other ingredients that make them just the same (or possibly worse) than the gluten version.
What’s really important is that you pay close attention to the nutrition labels on foods. Look at the ingredients list and opt for items that are cleaner. You want to see a shorter ingredients list with things you can actually pronounce. You’ll also want to take a look at the nutrition facts to see the total number of calories and fat.
Going gluten-free doesn’t mean you are destined to eat unhealthy versions of your favorite gluttonous foods. You can still make smart choices if you do your research. It’s also wise to focus on healthy foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
2. Your Mood May Improve
Consuming gluten can cause a variety of issues for those who have an allergy or sensitivity to it. For example, eating gluten has been linked to brain fog and feelings of depression. Italian researchers confirmed these findings when they conducted a study using a pill containing gluten and a placebo.
The study participants who took the pill that contained gluten found their symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, brain fog, and depression were much more severe. The Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics journal discovered that people with a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity saw an increase in depression symptoms when eating gluten.
If you’re wondering if gluten has had an impact on your mood and brain function, you can try eliminating it to see what happens. If you notice a difference after a few weeks without gluten, it just might be contributing to the issues you’ve been dealing with.
3. Digestive Issues Can Disappear (Or Flare Up)
For many people who have an allergy or sensitivity to it, consuming gluten causes a lot of gastrointestinal problems. It can leave you dealing with bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomach cramps. Eliminating it from your diet can help ease these symptoms, so it’s worth noting what you’ve eaten whenever you experience any of those issues.
Alternatively, you also might notice an increase in digestive issues after cutting out gluten. The reason for this is because removing gluten can decrease the amount of fiber you get in your diet. A lack of fiber can cause the very same issues mentioned above. The bacteria in your gut feasts on fiber and produces a short-chain fatty acid, known as butyrate. This keeps your intestines healthy and ensures they’re functioning properly. So, if you are going to cut out gluten, you want to make sure you’re still getting plenty of fiber in your diet on a daily basis to ensure your gut is healthy.
4. You Might Consume More Arsenic
When food companies make gluten-free versions of different foods, they often reach for rice or rice flour as a substitute. The issue here is that rice is a source or inorganic arsenic, which is because arsenic is often found in water, soil, and fertilizer. This can lead to the development of lung cancer, skin cancer, bladder cancer, and heart disease, as stated by Consumer Reports.
Due to this information, you should look very closely at what you’re eating. Pay attention to how much rice is in the gluten-free products you purchase and how much rice you’re actually consuming. You can still enjoy gluten-free products that don’t contain rice by opting for breads and pastas that don’t contain rice flour.
5. Those Grocery Shopping Trips Could Become More Expensive
Unfortunately, the reality of gluten-free living is that many of the products are more expensive. You’re going to pay more for gluten-free bread and pasta than you would when buying their wheat-filled counterparts. In most cases, gluten-free items contain more costly ingredients, plus special practices have to be put into place in order to avoid cross-contamination with other products that may contain gluten.