There's a lot of confusion over the gluten free "movement". Why is everyone all of a sudden sensitive to it? Even if I'm not, should I avoid gluten? Is gluten as gross as it sounds? I'd love to clear some of that up for you today.
Firstly, there are a few theories as to why gluten allergies are popping up more frequently these days, but the one I find most compelling is that the quality of processed food in our country has gotten so poor that for those who eat too much of it, their bodies have a harder time handling proteins like gluten because they are working harder to cleanse out other toxins. This is not the case for everyone (especially not those who have celiac disease-an autoimmune disorder), though it explains a lot! Secondly, the reality is that if you are not sensitive to gluten and you eat an otherwise healthy diet, then there is no reason to avoid the naturally occurring protein because here's where things can get complicated.
There is a common misconception that any gluten free bread is healthier than any wheat bread. This is sometimes the case when comparing a whole grain gluten free bread to, say, Wonderbread. However, as with most food comparisons, the proof is in the ingredients list. Let's compare an all purpose gluten free bread with a high quality whole wheat bread.
The white gluten free bread will contain a long list of refined ingredients like rice flour, modified tapioca starch, potato starch, and a number of preservatives. A good quality wheat bread, on the other hand should contain only whole wheat flour, water, honey, sea salt, and yeast. I'm not saying that gluten free bread is unhealthy across the board. In fact, I love a well-made gluten free pizza crust. I'm simply wanting to show you how just like choosing between conventional breads at the grocery store, the label must be considered!
So my suggestion? If you're sensitive to gluten, clean up your diet and do some gut healing work. See if this clears up the sensitivity for you. If not (or if you truly have a gluten intolerance...or truly love gluten free bread), then look for whole grain gluten free alternatives containing ingredients like brown rice flour, oat flour, and quinoa flour as your go-tos. Your gluten intolerance is valid and you deserve the best quality grains you can get your hands on! Reading labels can take some getting used to, but I know your body will thank you and I hope you'll feel empowered by the new awareness it gives you in making nutrition choices.