Purely Nutrition School // Gluten-Free , Grain-Free, What’s Best For Me?
So as you probably already gathered, we are passionate about providing our customers with delicious, gluten-free products ranging from Granola to Oatmeal to Muesli… And we also have a new line of Grain-Free Granola, with our Coconut Cashew + Banana Nut flavors (so much yum). You probably have heard of people being on a Gluten-Free diet or Grain-Free (sometimes referred to as paleo) diet. But tbh all these “diets” can get a little confusing. And we definitely never want to encourage someone to follow a certain health diet because it is “trendy”. However, we do believe there are definite nutritional benefits to eating gluten-free products or grain-free products, either all the time or just some of the time.
So class is in session, and today’s nutrition lesson focuses on the benefits and reasons for being free of gluten or grain.
So to start we want to break down this whole gluten thing. Since the majority of our products DO contain grains but no gluten, this is the obviously the route we tend to follow with our diets. Now to break. it. down.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. When it is digested, gluten will break down into different peptides aka strings of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of life and help your body to function as it needs to. A main issue that arises with gluten is that our digestive systems cannot fully break down all of these peptides, so they remain as macromolecules.
This is where Celiac Disease Comes In:
If you have Celiac Disease, then your body’s response to these macromolecules is triggering the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine. This attack destroys villi and makes your intestine super permeable, too permeable. A common name for this permeable intestine is “leaky gut”.
And all of this results in what?
When all this goes down in your gut, your body will not properly absorb the nutrients in your diet. And yeah, leaky gut is as unenjoyable as it sounds…
What if I’m pretty sure I don’t have Celiac Disease?
Even if you do not have CD, you may still experience to a small degree what is noted above. According to BMC Medicine, “Because of the high levels of gluten in modern wheat and the sheer quantities of wheat consumption in Western societies, all individuals, even those with a low degree of risk, are therefore susceptible to some form of gluten reaction during their life span.” Like CD, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCDS) is an autoimmune disorder, that affects many people. AND gluten is not the only culprit (gasp!). Highly fermentable (gas-producing) carbohydrates called FODMAPS can cause these issues. And FODMAPS can be found in dairy, fruit, and vegetables.
Ok great. I don’t want a leaky gut. What can I do?
So whether you know that you have CD and NEED to cut out gluten or not, it is important to listen to your body and take note when weird things happen to your digestion. Ask your doctor if you think you may have a gluten-sensitivity. And if you don’t have CD but want to give your gut a break, eat gluten-free products!
So gluten-free = healthy?
NO. no no no. People with CD will feel us on this one. Just watch this video from Jimmy Fallon and see how misunderstood gluten is… As Elizabeth says, “Get rid of that mindset of reading a label to see if it’s labeled gluten-free versus reading a label to see if it has good-quality ingredients.” Because truly when you go gluten-free, you are cutting off some significant sources of fiber, B vitamins, and iron. It’s always about listening to your body and making good choices for YOU.
Now for considering going grain-free: This diet is definitely not a 100% of the time thing for us, but we do like to give our bodies a grain-break every once in a while by choosing to munch on Coconut Cashew or Banana Nut Butter.
Why do people go grain-free?
Whether someone follows a “paleo” diet or is just restricting grains, a common reason has to do with insulin. Too many grains in the body will cause insulin levels in the blood to rise. Grains do not contain as much protein as other foods (which is also why they don’t keep you full as long); they are digested quickly thus raising blood sugar and then insulin. This causes a lot of the body’s systems to freak out. Because when your insulin level is surging it messes with appetite, energy level, etc. When you consume less grains, your blood sugar level will become more balanced which can reduce the requirements for insulin production and improve your cells’ sensitivity to this pancreatic hormone.
When people go grain-free they report that it helps with weight loss, improved skin, and overall healthier digestion. If you’re just generally trying to clean up your diet, it can also help you naturally intake more nutrients and minerals as you will eat more vegetables, fruit, etc. These foods will give you the same vitamins/minerals/fiber/nutrients that grains offer but with even more good and definitely less bad.
What do we suggest?
If you feel like you consume a lot of grains throughout the day, make a conscious effort to decrease that amount. If you are feeling sluggish or like your gut is out of wack, test grain limitation out. And if one way you can decrease grains is by opting for our Grain-Free over the Ancient Grain, GO FOR IT. That’s why we wanted to offer a grainless option. (Because a smoothie bowl without granola is just sad). Overall, we do believe that grains can offer a lot of nutritional benefit too, if you are choosing the right, healthier ones. And let’s be real, grains taste GOOD. (ALL IN MODERATION OF COURSE.)
In combination with other healthy foods — i.e. Avocado Toast or Peanut Butter + Toast, you can balance out some of the nutrient/protein issues by slowing down digestion and decreasing sugar/insulin surges, and adding some bonus nutritionally good stuff to the equation!
And more power to you if you can stick to a Grain-Free diet! Just you do you friend.
We hope that this post has offered a little bit of insight into all these GF trends. Ultimately, we believe it’s always about listening to your body, moderation, and looking for PURE INGREDIENTS.