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HEALTH

Should You Ditch Gluten?

This guy did and look at him now. Here’s what you need to know before taking the plunge What’s all the fuss? Your supermarket suddenly has more gluten-free products than it does bored checkout chicks. Anti-gluten advocates are holding up weight loss, faster recovery, increased energy, improved digestion and clearer skin as rewards for coming aboard. Tennis world No.2 Novak Djokovic credits his mid-career purple patch to quitting gluten. Strength guru Charles Poliquin says cutting wheat from your diet is step one toward sculpting a six-pack. And paleo proponents argue all grains contain anti-nutrients that sabotage good health. Should I believe the hype? Depends who you ask. Gluten is dividing the experts. Cardiologist William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, says gluten causes raging bouts of hunger, colossal blood-sugar swings and disease-causing inflammation. Others, such as Sonya Stanley, from the Dietitians Association of Australia, argue that unless you have coeliac disease or a diagnosed intolerance (like the Djoker does), you’ll be wasting your time scanning every food label in the supermarket. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with gluten,” says Stanley.

Words: Cassie White CREDIT: XXXXXXXXX

Will quitting it help me get a six-pack? Well, it might. Even if gluten is harmless in your case, a gluten-free diet tends to be a low-carb diet, a proven weight-loss strategy. Combine low-carb eating with Djoker’s monumental energy expenditure and you’re going to shred up. Anything else I should know? People with self-diagnosed gluten intolerance are often reacting to poorly absorbed carbs called FODMAPs, found Monash University. Instead of singling out gluten, get tested for irritable bowel syndrome, says dietitian Dr Naras

Gluten 101 ► What is it? A protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. ► W hat foods is it in? Bread, pasta, sauces, salad dressings, beer, baked goods and supplements – to name a few.

THE DJOKER CREDITS HIS CAREER PURPLE PATCH TO QUITTING GLUTEN

Lapsys. “It can be triggered by wheat or these indigestible carbs,” he explains. “But because wheat also contains gluten, people think it’s that.”

equals healthy: “If you take the gluten out, manufacturers need to put something back in to make it taste good, and that can mean extra fat or sugar,” says Stanley.

Any downsides to cutting out gluten? Besides feelings of deprivation after quitting beer and burgers? Your diet won’t be as varied and you risk missing out on nutrients found in wholegrain foods, though all these nutrients can be sourced from vegetables. You’ll also need to be a food detective, because gluten can turn up in almost everything. And don’t be fooled into thinking gluten-free

The verdict Unless you have coeliac disease, a diagnosed gluten intolerance or IBS that’s triggered by foods containing gluten, there’s probably no compelling reason to go gluten-free. But if you’re going to try it anyway, make sure you eat plenty of veg or grain substitutes like quinoa, as well as healthy fats. And be prepared to take out a second mortgage to fund your dietary experiment.

How to dodge it

Besides all the usual suspects, gluten and foods containing it go by many different names. For more information, visit coeliac.org.au.

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PB Health: Should You Ditch Gluten?