Gluten Free vs Grain Free
Scroll to the bottom to see the colourful infographic. A simple and easy way to understand the difference between gluten free and grain free.
So we’ve all heard about going gluten-free. Is it necessary? Is it the latest fad diet? Is it for everyone? What about healthy whole grains? And what is so wrong with gluten anyway, surely we’ve been eating bread for thousands of years right?
Gluten-Free Junk Is Still Junk
So what is gluten?
Gluten is just one of the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. It can also be found in makeup, medication, sweets, ice cream, sauces, paint, sunscreens and even lipstick. Many people have to avoid gluten because they have Crohn’s disease, are a coeliac or suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
These are conditions that when gluten is eaten it inflames the gut. Symptoms include pain, discomfort, bloating, skin rashes, weight loss, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and/or constipation.
What is an allergy?
A true allergy is where your body protects itself from an allergen such as peanuts or shellfish. Reactions can be mild or cause an anaphylactic shock that requires emergency treatment with adrenaline, otherwise, it can be fatal.
An autoimmune disease is where the body protects itself from an allergen by attacking its own healthy tissues. Symptoms can be take days, months or years to show such as arthritis, thyroid.
An intolerance is where someone cannot tolerate a type of food such as lactose. The immune system is not involved, but symptoms are just as severe.
So what about the rest of us who have no symptoms and no problem whatsoever eating gluten?
Even without obvious symptoms (I never had any) gluten affects the permeability of the stomach lining. This porous lining now allows toxins, bacteria and large proteins to pass through the walls and enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation.
It is inflammation within our bodies which are now understood to be the basis of many adverse health conditions.Gluten Free vs Grain Free - which is healthiest? Remember this - gluten-free junk is still junk
The Gluten Free Market-
This is now a multi-billion dollar industry that has sprung up because of the marketing surrounding gluten-free goods. You can now buy gluten-free bread, cakes, biscuits, cakes, pasta, sauce, soups and pretty much any other baked good you can think of.
Gluten-free does not always mean wheat free. “Some manufacturers use wheat that has had the gluten removed to make gluten-free foods. Therefore you need to exercise a bit of caution, as all gluten-free foods are not necessarily safe for you to eat if you have a wheat allergy or intolerance. Some products help by actually saying “wheat & gluten free” on the label.” Source: Wheat-Free.org
Take a look at the nutrition panel, you will see how high the carbohydrate content is and any vitamins or minerals it contains, are usually added because it is fortified. Gluten-free products are incredibly expensive and some may say, akin to junk food.
Sadly advertisers and marketing gurus (“who base their careers on fluff and wonder” – Nigel Latta) give us nutritional advice and sell them to us as being healthy. Gluten-free products swap gluten for high carbohydrate alternatives. There is even gluten free, wheat free weet biscuit! It is marketed as low in sugar (yes, this is true) but it is 75% carbs – which raise your blood sugar!
Don’t be fooled by marketing and hype. Don’t read what a product doesn’t contain, read what it does.
Healthy Whole Grains-
Look at the nutrition panel of most bread and they will proudly state they contain fibre, vitamin B’s and folic acid to name a few. These vitamins and minerals are fortified to the bread because the milling process removes most of the nutrients and healthy fats from the wheat.
Wholegrain bread is better than refined white bread if you have to choose but try no bread as often as you can. It’s cheaper and healthier. Eat more sandwich fillings (the nutritious element).
You’ll gain far more nutrients this way than any lost by missing out the 2 slices of bread.
Why is wheat so bad now? People have been eating it for thousands of years! –
Modern wheat is not the same as the wheat our grandparents and ancestors ate. Wheat used to be 6ft tall but has been genetically modified to a shorter semi-dwarf plant that it is easier to harvest, bred to be resistant to viruses, contains 20-30% fewer nutrients, and contain more gluten. Wheat still contains phytates which are indigestible, making the trace vitamins present unusable. So the wheat today is not the wheat our ancestors ate.
Aren’t whole grains the base of the healthy food pyramid?
It was an easy solution to feed America on cheap grains and food stamps. Wheat lobbyists pushed for more wheat consumption and subsidies.
America was facing a malnutrition crisis. Fast forward to today, obesity is at its highest rate and so is T2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
What changed? Wheat, grain and sugar consumption.
So what is a grain and how does it affect my blood sugar?
Grains raise your blood sugar as much as table sugar. So eating bread, pasta and rice leave you just as much at risk of developing diabetes as eating sweets and sugary foods to excess.
Recommendations for diabetics were always reducing sugar, bread, rice and potatoes. These are good practices to live by. The most common examples of grains are wheat, oats, corn, rice, quinoa, millet, sorghum, bulgar.
How else do grains affect my body?
Grains may cause leaky gut (with or without symptoms) which allows toxins such as bacteria, viruses and larger proteins to bypass the protective lining and enter the bloodstream. This causes autoimmune conditions and inflammation which are related to asthma, depression, migraines, PCOS, arthritis, fatigue,
Advertisers hope if they add a “gluten-free” label or “contains healthy whole grains” slogan on the box, they may convince consumers they are buying a healthy alternative, regardless of what else has gone into the product. And by labelling products as gluten-free or healthy whole grains, studies show that people will consume more.
Is going grain free restrictive? Aren’t you giving up entire food groups?
Vegetarians give up entire food groups, all we do is give up grains.
It may appear to be restrictive purely because grains are now found in just so many ‘products’. Those products are modern inventions.
Most of what we see on the supermarket shelves just wasn’t available 10 or 20 years ago. By eating real food and have a balanced, varied approach, you eat far more nutrients than ever before.
What my family eats is similar to what our grandparents ate. Meat, fish, vegetables and plenty of healthy fats. No bread or pasta is required to bulk up our meal anymore. All these do is crowd out the nutrition.
So to say a product is healthier because it is gluten free or contains healthy whole grains is misleading and naïve.
Gluten-free products are incredibly highly processed food ‘products’ which are more a product of industry than real food. Don’t swap real food for gluten-free foods.
Yes, you remove gluten from your diet but are replacing them with high carb high substitutes which will make your blood glucose skyrocket, cause weight gain, increase fat storage and poor lipid results.
How To lead a healthy lifestyle and take charge of your health –
By eliminating grains, sugar, refined carbohydrates and seed oils, we are setting the foundation for reducing inflammation in our body and our risk of all the major diseases associated with old age. Alzheimer’s, T2 diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, stroke.
Making the change to grain free, sugar-free and no seed oils can be difficult. I always recommend starting slowly. Don’t go hardcore and remove everything at once.
Begin by removing the obvious sources of sugar (cakes, biscuits, sweets, drinks), then start to remove the bread and pasta, then remove the rice and so on. Make it easy on yourself and your family.
If your children find this change too hard, you won’t continue. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing either.
Don’t think because you can’t eliminate all these foods entirely, you may as well not do it. Every little step you take, allows you to gain better health. Be proud of any changes you make. Keep going. Read labels.
And remember this: Grains are used to fatten animals before slaughter and grains are force-fed to geese to produce fatty liver disease which is used to make foie gras. Do you want to either of these to happen to you?
Healthy oils include:
- Avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter.
What to eat:
- Base all your meals on the simple guide of meat, fish, veggies, berries, nuts and healthy oils
- Avoid the bread, cake, biscuit, cracker aisle.
- Buy ingredients, not products.
- Buy food that your grandmother would recognize
- Avoid cereals
- Avoid processed food and takeaway food
- Avoid low-fat foods, they are high in carbs and heavily processed
- Read, read, read labels. You soon get to know what to/not to buy
- Make it simple
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