You’ve probably heard a lot about gluten. And even more probably  – in the context of a “gluten-free diet”.

But what is gluten and why are we encouraged to free our diet from it?

Gluten is a protein, often found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye.

Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture (have you tried glutinous rice?)

gluten rice

Most of us unknowingly love it, because gluten gives our favorite foods that special touch: It makes pizza dough stretchy, gives bread its spongy texture, and is used to thicken sauces and soups.

Gluten is also used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.

So why is gluten bad for you?

Actually, it is not bad for everyone. But it is extremely bad for people, suffering from gluten intolerance, or celiac disease.

Experts once thought celiac disease was a rare disorder, believed to affect one in every 10,000 people. However, a recent study of 2003 revealed that celiac disease is more prevalent than suspected before and affects one in 133 people.

HYDRA So here’s the question – should you go gluten-free?

Definitely yes – IF you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

But if you do not suffer form the above-mentioned conditions, you may find it unnecessarily difficult.

What can a gluten free diet give you?

There is a popular idea that a gluten-free diet is a ticket to a perfect body. But experts say that there is nothing magical about a gluten-free diet. What it can do is seriously limit the number of foods available to you. And yes, a gluten-free diet is a PAIN. Since gluten makes foods thick and tasty, it is added to everything from salad dressing to soy sauce to seasonings.

The diet can also backfire. Gluten-free is not a synonym to fat or sugar-free. So without gluten, food manufacturers often add more fat and sugar to bind food together. Example? A serving of gluten-containing pretzels has about 110 calories and ne gram of fat. A gluten-free version of the same snack is 140 calories and six grams of fat.

So, as always, we think that healthy moderation is the right choice.

As for those suffering form celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, stay tuned for our next post – “How to eat gluten-free in Hong Kong”


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